Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Film Review: Back to the Future (1985) - 'Five Act Structure'

Back to the Future is a 1985 American Science Fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It follows the Story of Marty Mcfly who is transported back in time in a freak incident. He travels back thirty years and interferes with the first meeting of when his parents met and fell in love with each other. This causes great repercussions and so Marty is forced to seek help from his scientist friend in the past and attempts to match his parents, George and Loraine, with one another once again.

The five Act structure is an effective way of presenting a narrative at a steady pace which allows for characters to be presented effectively, as well as establishing the protagonist's current lifestyle, the problems which they must over come, the climatic finale, a final challenge and the new lifestyle. Back to the Future is an excellent example of the Five Act Structure

Act 1
The first act begins with establishing Marty's current lifestyle. He is a teenager still at school who aspires to be involved with music. He visits his scientist friend Doc Brown's house often and partakes in experiments. His home life isn't too much to look at as his father is constantly being bullied by his boss Biff, his mother smokes and it is implied she is an alcoholic, and his siblings both are not very successful. Marty receives a call for him to meet Doc in a parking lot nearby at midnight, this is the point in which Act 1 begins to transition into Act 2, as when Marty does meet Doc in the parking lot and discovers he has made a time machine, Doc is shot by a group of Libyans and Marty flee's into the past.

Act 2
The second begins to introduce the problems and trials that Marty's will have to overcome. These trials being getting his parents back together, finding a way back to his own time, and avoiding/defeating Biff so his father is no longer scared of him. Marty's only success within this Act is finding a much younger Doc Brown who does not know him, and he has to convince him that what he's telling is the truth. The two figure out how they can get Marty home, but they can not leave just yet as they have to wait for Lightning to strike, and Marty has to get his parents to fall in love.

Act 3
The third begins the climatic finale to the film, where Marty is trying to get his father and mother to fall in love at the dance, and he is successful as his father knocks out Biff, forever changing how Biff sees George and how George sees himself. The film comes to it's most climatic point as Marty and Doc are now in a race against time to connecting the time machine to a lightning strike. They have only one chance at sending Marty back to the future however before he takes off his car stalls and the wires become disconnected. It builds up into one last minute crescendo as Doc connects the wires just as the lightning strikes, and Marty gets the car started and whizzes by, with a loud crash and bang and a flash of fire Marty and the time machine disappear and Doc is left cheering at the success.

Act 4
The fourth act shows the aftermath as Marty has come home. He has crashed into the local cinema in his own time and is delighted. However Marty's expression quickly changes as he realises he only has a few minutes to save the Doc from being shot. The car won't start again and Marty runs on foot to the parking lot, and arrives in time to watch Doc be shot again. He rushes over to Doc, only to find he is in fact alive, and the message he left in the past got to him successfully, saving his life.

Act 5
The film has come to an end, where Marty has returned home back into his own time. However everything is not exactly the same as before, as his father is now more confident and a successful writer, subsequently his mother paid more attention to her lifestyle, and his siblings are now more successful. Marty finds Jennifer outside of his home and the two share a happy moment at the end of the film. That is until Doc Brown returns once again and hastily persuades both Marty and Jennifer to return with him back to the future.

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