Back to the Future Part III
|Back to the Future Part III|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Produced by||Neil Canton
|Screenplay by||Bob Gale|
|Story by||Robert Zemeckis
|Starring||Michael J. Fox
Thomas F. Wilson
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Editing by||Harry Keramidas
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||118 minutes|
Back to the Future Part III is a 1990 American science fiction comedy Western film. It is the third and final installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, and Lea Thompson. The film takes place immediately after the events of Back to the Future Part II. While stranded in 1955 during his time travel adventures, Marty McFly (Fox) discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Lloyd), trapped in the year 1885, was killed by Biff Tannen's great-grandfather Buford. Marty decides to travel to 1885 to rescue Doc.
Back to the Future Part III was filmed in California and Arizona, and was produced on a $40 million budget back-to-back with Back to the Future Part II. Part III was released in the United States on May 25, 1990, six months after the previous installment. Part III received generally positive reviews from critics, and although it was the lowest-grossing of the series' three films, it was commercially successful, earning $244.53 million at the box office, making it the sixth-highest-grossing film of 1990.
On November 12, 1955, Marty McFly discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown had become trapped in the year 1885. Marty, with the 1955 Doc, uses the information in Doc's 1885 letter to locate and repair the DeLorean. While retrieving the car, Marty spots a tombstone with Doc's name, dated six days after the letter. Learning that Doc was killed by Biff Tannen's great-grandfather, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, Marty decides to go back to 1885 to save Doc.
Marty arrives on September 2, 1885, in the middle of a United States Cavalry pursuit of Indians. While evading the pursuit, the DeLorean's fuel line is torn, forcing Marty to hide the car in a cave and walk to Hill Valley. Marty meets his Irish-born great-great-grandparents, Seamus and Maggie McFly, and also runs afoul of Buford and his gang. Buford tries to hang Marty, but Doc saves him. Doc agrees to leave 1885, but with the DeLorean out of gasoline and no more available, there is no way to accelerate the car to 88 miles per hour.
After some experimentation, Doc devises a scheme to use a locomotive to push the DeLorean up to speed. As Doc and Marty explore the rail spur they intend to use, they spot an out-of-control horse-drawn wagon. Doc saves the passenger, Clara Clayton, and the two fall in love. Buford tries killing Doc at a town festival, but Marty intervenes. Buford then goads Marty into a showdown in two days' time. Consulting the photograph of Doc's tombstone, Marty and Doc note that Doc's name has disappeared, but the date on the tombstone remains unchanged. Doc warns Marty that he, not Doc, might be killed by Buford.
The night before their departure, Marty and Doc place the DeLorean onto the rail spur. At Clara's house, Doc tells Clara he is from the future, but Clara believes it is an excuse to end their relationship and angrily dismisses him. Distraught, Doc returns to the town saloon to get drunk, but Marty rides to the saloon and convinces Doc to leave with him. However, Doc drinks a single shot of whiskey and (due to extreme alcohol intolerance) passes out instantly. Buford arrives early and calls out Marty, but Marty has finally realized his reputation is unimportant and refuses to fight. Doc revives after drinking the bartender's special "Wake-Up Juice" and tries fleeing with Marty, but Buford's gang captures Doc, forcing Marty to duel. Marty uses a firebox door from a stove as a bullet-proof vest, battling Buford on his own terms. During the fistfight that follows, Buford destroys the tombstone, is knocked unconscious and arrested for an earlier robbery. Marty and Doc depart to "borrow" the locomotive.
Clara is leaving on the train when she overhears a salesman discussing a man he met in the saloon, despondent about her recent breakup. Realizing the man is Doc, Clara applies the emergency brake and runs back to town. She discovers Doc's model of the time machine and rides after him. Doc and Marty, having stolen the train at gunpoint, begin pushing the DeLorean along the spur line, attempting to get it up to 88 miles per hour. Clara boards the locomotive while Doc is climbing towards the DeLorean. Doc encourages Clara to join him, intending to bring her to 1985. As she climbs to Doc, Clara falls and is left hanging by her dress. Marty passes the hoverboard to Doc, who saves Clara. They coast away from the train as the DeLorean disappears through time, while the locomotive falls off the unfinished bridge.
Marty arrives on October 27, 1985. He escapes the powerless DeLorean before it is hit by a freight train and destroyed. Marty discovers that everything has returned to the improved timeline. Marty finds Jennifer sleeping on her front porch. Later, he uses the lessons he learned in 1885 to avoid being goaded into a street race with Needles, avoiding a potential automobile accident. Jennifer opens the fax message she kept from 2015 and watches as the message regarding Marty being fired becomes erased.
Marty takes Jennifer to the time machine wreckage. As they survey the remains, a locomotive equipped with a flux capacitor appears, manned by Doc, Clara, and their two children Jules and Verne. Doc gives Marty a photo of the two of them by the clockworks at the 1885 festival. Jennifer inquires about the fax, and Doc tells them it means that the future has not been written yet. After the Browns bid farewell to their friends, Doc’s train converts into an aerial craft and roars off into an unknown time.
The earliest origins of the western theme for Back to the Future Part III lie in the production of the original film. Michael J. Fox was asked by Zemeckis, during filming for the original, about what time period he would like to see and responded saying he wanted to visit the old west and meet cowboys. Zemeckis and Gale were intrigued by the idea, but held it off until Part III. Rather than use existing sets, the filmmakers decided to build 1885 Hill Valley from scratch. The western scenes were filmed on location in Monument Valley. Some of the location shooting for 1885 Hill Valley was done in Jamestown, California, and on a purpose-built set at the Red Hills Ranch, near Sonora, California. Some of the train scenes were filmed at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, a heritage line in Jamestown. Whereas the original film played to a more materialistic idea of success, Zemeckis considered Part III more of a "human journey" with spiritual overtones.
The shooting of the Back to the Future sequels, which were shot back-to-back throughout 1989, reunited much of the crew of the original. The films were shot over the course of 11 months, save for a three-week hiatus between filming for Part II and III. The most hellacious part was editing Part II while filming Part III, and Zemeckis bore the brunt of the process over a three-week period. While he shot most the train sequences in Sonora, Gale was down in Los Angeles supervising the final dub of Part II. Zemeckis would wrap photography and board a private plane to Burbank, where Gale and engineers would greet him on the dubbing stage with dinner. He would oversee the reels completed that day and make changes where needed. Afterwards, he would retire to the Sheraton Universal Hotel for the night. The following morning, Zemeckis would drive to the Burbank Airport, board a flight back to the set in Northern California, and shoot the film.
Although the schedule for most involved was grueling, the actors found the remote location for Part III relaxing compared to shooting its predecessor. Rather than continue to explore Marty McFly's extended family, the writers found it natural to give the spotlight to Doc Brown. The role of Clara Clayton was written with Mary Steenburgen in mind. When she received the script, however, she was reluctant to commit to the film until her kids hounded her due to their love of the original. Lloyd shared his first on-screen kiss with Steenburgen in Part III. The Hill Valley Festival Dance scene proved to be the most dangerous for Lloyd and Steenburgen; overly zealous dancing left Steenburgen with a torn ligament in her foot. Shooting a film set in the Old West was appealing to stuntmen, who were all experienced horse riders. "We had every great stuntman in Hollywood wanting to work on Part III," recalled Gale in 2002. Tom Wilson desired to perform his own stunts and spent a great deal of time learning to ride a horse and throw his lariat. Filming was halted when Michael J. Fox's father died and when his son was born.
Alan Silvestri, through his longtime collaboration with Robert Zemeckis, returned to compose the score for Back to the Future Part III. Rather than dictate what the music should sound like, Zemeckis directed Silvestri as he would an actor, seeking to evoke emotion and treating every piece of music like a character. The photography in Part III was a "dream" for cinematographer Dean Cundey, who agreed with much of the crew in his excitement to shoot a western. The filmmakers sought a bright, colorful picture for each scene, with a hint of sepia tone in certain shots. Zemeckis desired a spectacular climax to the film; to achieve this, he coordinated the actors, a live steam train, pyrotechnics/special effects, and countless technicians at once.
Release and reception
The film grossed US$23 million in its first weekend of U.S. release and $87.6 million altogether in U.S. box office receipts (or about $152,376,558.90 when adjusted for inflation as of January 2011) – $243 million worldwide. On December 17, 2002, Universal Pictures released Back to the Future Part III in a boxed set with the first two films on DVD and VHS. In the DVD widescreen edition, there was a framing flaw that Universal has since corrected, available in sets manufactured after February 21, 2003.
Kim Newman of Empire gave the film four out of five stars, saying that the film "restores heart interest of the first film and has a satisfying complete storyline." He praised Michael J. Fox for "keeping the plot on the move", and mentioned that Christopher Lloyd and Mary Steenburgen's romance was "funny". He also said that the film's ending is the "neatest of all" and it "features one of the best time machines in the cinema, promising that this is indeed the very last in the series and neatly wrapping it up for everybody. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half out of four stars. Ebert said that the film's western motifs are "a sitcom version that looks exactly as if it were built on a back lot somewhere". Although Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised Christopher Lloyd's performance in the film, he also said that the film "looks as if it could be the beginning of a continuing television series." He also complained that the film is "so sweet-natured and bland that it is almost instantly forgettable."
In 1990, the film won a Saturn Award for Best Music for Alan Silvestri and a Best Supporting Actor award for Thomas F. Wilson. In 2003, it received AOL Movies DVD Premiere Award for Best Special Edition of the Year, an award based on consumer online voting.
Video and computer games
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2010)|
LJN released an NES game called Back to the Future Part II & III, a sequel to their game based on the first film. An arcade Back to the Future Part III game was also released that would eventually be ported to several home video game systems, including the Sega Genesis.
- Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis, et al. (2002). Back to the Future Part III. Special Features: The Making of Back to the Future Part III (DVD). Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
- Back to the Future 2002 DVD Feature: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale Q&A recorded at the University of Southern California
- Railtown 1897 State Historic Park Film Credits
- Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis, et al. (2002). Back to the Future Part III. Special Features: Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three (DVD). Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
- "$87,666,629.00 in 1990 had the same buying power as $152,376,558.90 in 2011.". Dollartimes.com. January 7, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
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- "Framing Flaws and Back to the Future Replacement DVDs". Whirlpool.net. May 19, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
- "Back to the Future Part III". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
- Newman, Kim. "Back To The Future: Part III". Empire. Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (May 25, 1990). "Back to the Future Part III review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
- Canby, Vincent (May 25, 1990). "A Trilogy Whose Future Has Passed". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
- "Past Saturn Awards". The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
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- Official website
- Back to the Future Part III at the Internet Movie Database
- Back to the Future Part III at allmovie
- Back to the Future Part III at Rotten Tomatoes