It’s the 35th anniversary of Back To The Future this year, and the 5-year anniversary of Back To The Hundreds, so there’s a lot to celebrate with our upcoming Back To The Hundreds II collection, releasing on Thursday, July 23rd.
This film franchise holds an extraordinary place in our hearts, and traces of its DNA can be found in virtually every other thing we work on. Our co-founder Bobby’s life is essentially the fourth movie in the trilogy, and his obsession with Back To The Future is highly contagious, even when we’re all socially distanced and wearing masks. Bobby’s excitement for this project quickly became our excitement, and it made our whole team want to go back and relive these adventures.
Thankfully, all three movies are now on Netflix in surprisingly stunning HD, and I still don’t know how they make old movies look new again. So crazy. I watched the first two installments this weekend and they brought back a flood of memories from when I was a kid, mesmerized by Doc and Marty’s travels through time and curious if it was all really possible. And now, here we are in 2020, past the future that Marty, Jennifer, and Doc traveled to, still trying to figure all of it out.
I remembered most of the pivotal plot points but there were so many little magical moments I had long forgotten about. One major theme that stood out immediately, especially in the first movie, was how Back To The Future is basically a musical. The entire film is driven by music, both in the actual storyline and by the legendary scoring of composer Alan Silvestri. While the spectacle of time travel and performances from an all-time cast may appear to be the most captivating component of these iconic blockbusters, it’s the music that truly keeps you fixed to the edge of your seat.
Music is what made Marty cool in the first place. The opening scene of the whole trilogy finds Marty dropping by Doc Brown’s house to use his absurdly powerful guitar amp and subsequently blow it out with one riff. In virtually every scene of the movie, we see Marty either putting on or taking off his headphones, letting us know he’s just as obsessed with music as we are. Then, before traveling back to 1955, Marty and his band, the Pinheads, audition for the school dance, only to be shut down swiftly by a cornball school administrator. We’ll get back to him.
The music in Back To The Future is triumphant, giving the listener the feeling of flying through the air in a gravity-defying Delorean themselves. Silvestri’s score is one of the best of all time, using a composition fit for an outer space epic to convey the vast unknown that is time. Silvestri’s masterful work is what gets your heart racing as Marty is chased down Main Street on a modified wooden scooter and once again on his hoverboard 60 years later.
Back To The Future wasn’t the only incredible film Alan Silvestri scored, either. Many of our all-time favorites are mere pages in his illustrious songbook. His work on Romancing The Stone led to him landing the Back To The Future gig, which he followed up with Predator, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Bodyguard, Forrest Gump, The Polar Express, all of the Avengers movies, blah blah blah, literally like every great movie of the past 35 years. I even left out FernGully, Cast Away, and Ready Player One because there just isn’t enough room to list all of his amazing scores. He also worked on Van Helsing, so, you know, it’s not like he’s a cyborg composer just picking perfect movies or something.
If your 35th Anniversary fix isn’t satisfied with Back To The Hundreds II, you can get your hands on a reissue of Back To The Future’s original soundtrack on multi-colored limited edition vinyl next month. Mondo Music remastered the album, which isn’t the complete score but a compilation of both highlights from Silvestri and pop songs that appeared in the movie like “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, Clapton’s “Heaven is One Step Away,” “The Wallflower” by Etta James, and Marty McFly’s rendition of “Johnny B. Goode,” among others. It even features brand new cover art from Drew Struzan, who illustrated all of the original Back To The Future poster art.
These songs all represent powerful points in the movie, none more so than “Power Of Love,” which is the song we hear when Marty puts on his headphones and skates to school, holding onto the back of a truck to make up a little bit of the time Doc Brown stole. It’s also the song the Pinheads play at their audition, albeit a little bit harder version, at least according to the judge on the panel that rejected him. But if you look past a little hair-and-makeup, you start to realize that the judge may have just never heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, considering he’s actually Huey Lewis.
While his band was already pretty popular, “The Power Of Love” went on to become Huey Lewis and The News’ first number one hit on the charts and skyrocketed them to superstardom. But they weren’t the only big-time musicians making cameos. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers appears as Needles in the two sequels and ZZ Top stops by for a rootin’ tootin’ cameo in the third installment to perform their song “Doubleback.”
For years, fans of the franchise and its music clamored for a stage adaptation, and rumors ran rampant after Back To The Future co-creator Bob Gale appeared at a Delorean convention in 2004 and answered a question about a possible musical by saying, “…Back To The Future would make a great Broadway Show. So someday, maybe that’ll happen. That’s something I’d like to see.”
In 2012, rumors became reality, as development on Back To The Future: The Musical began. Workshops with actors started in London and Los Angeles around 2014, with a target opening of 2015 in London’s West End to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the film and the date Doc and Marty traveled to in the film’s sequel. But due to creative differences and some shuffling among the staff, the show wouldn’t open until March of 2020. The musical was receiving critical acclaim in the first few weeks of performances before the Manchester Opera House, where the play was showing, had to shut down amid the Covid-19 pandemic. There haven’t been any announcements regarding a return, but hopefully, the show will go on and eventually make its way to the States, too.