The Worlds of Back to the Future

Critical Essays on the Films

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About the Book

A critical examination of the cultural, cinematic, and historical contexts of the Back to the Future trilogy, this book provides a multi-focal representation of the trilogy from several interdisciplinary fields, including philosophy, literature, music, pop culture, and media and gender studies. Topics include sexual symbolism in the trilogy and the oedipal plotting of the first film; nostalgia and the suburban dream in the cultural climate of the 1980s; generic play and performance throughout the trilogy; the emotional and narrative force provided by the films’ renowned musical scores; the trilogy’s post-modern references and allusions to the Western genre; female representations across the trilogy; and the Lacanian philosophical constructs in the characterizations of Doc Brown and George and Marty McFly.

About the Author(s)

Sorcha Ní Fhlainn is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies and American Studies, and founding member of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Sorcha Ní Fhlainn
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4400-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5765-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Introduction: It’s About Time
SORCHA NÍ FHLAINN      1

1. Back to the Future: Edipus as Time Traveler
ANDREW GORDON      29
2. “You Space Bastard! You killed my pines!”: Back to the Future, Nostalgia and the Suburban Dream
BERNICE M. MURPHY      49
3. “Don’t you think it’s about time?”: Back to the Future in Black and White
STEPHEN MATTERSON      62
4. “There’s something very familiar about all this”: Generic Play and Performance in the Back to the Future Trilogy
LUCY FIFE DONALDSON      73
5. Bury My Heart in Hill Valley, or, The Kid Who KO’d Liberty Valance
JOHN EXSHAW      91
6. Music in Flux: Musical Transformation and Time Travel in Back to the Future
CHRISTINE LEE GENGARO      112
7. Back to the Fifties! Fixing the Future
ELIZABETH MCCARTHY      133
8. “Mom! You look so thin!”: Constructions of Femininity Across the Space-Time Continuum
KATHERINE FARRIMOND      157
9. Ronald Reagan and the Rhetoric of Traveling Back to the Future: The Zemeckis Aesthetic as Revisionist History and Conservative Fantasy
CHRISTOPHER JUSTICE      174
10. “This is what makes time travel possible”: The Generation(s) of Revolutionary Master Signifiers in Back to the Future
MICHAEL WILLIAMS      195
11. Showdown at the Café ’80’s: The Back to the Future Trilogy as Baudrillardian Parable
RANDY LAIST      216
12. “Doing it in style”: The Narrative Rules of Time Travel in the Back to the Future Trilogy
JENNIFER HARWOOD-SMITH and FRANCIS LUDLOW      232

About the Contributors      255
Index      259

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Provides a fine set of college-level, critical essays examining the cultural and historical importance of the Back to the Future trilogy…. Any science fiction or film collection will find this an outstanding survey packed with insights perfect for a film analysis course in general or any close examination of the three movies”—Midwest Book Review