- "They've saved the best trip for last... But this time they may have gone too far."
- —Tagline for the film
|Back to the Future Part III|
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Produced by|| Steven Spielberg|
|Written by|| Robert Zemeckis,|
|Starring|| Michael J. Fox, |
Thomas F. Wilson,
|Music by|| Alan Silvestri|
James Horner (Universal logo only)
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||May 25, 1990|
|Running time||118 min.|
|Preceded by||Back to the Future Part II|
|All Movie Guide profile|
Back to the Future Part III is a science fiction western comedy film starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Mary Steenburgen that opened on May 25, 1990. It is the third and final part of the Back to the Future trilogy, following Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II. The film is mostly set in the year 1885 with some time in 1955 and 1985.
Going to 1885
Like Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III picks up where the previous film left off. On November 12, 1955, Doc Brown is stunned to see Marty moments after sending him back to 1985 and he faints outside the Hill Valley Courthouse. Marty takes him back to the mansion to recover. Once Doc revives, he uses a magnifying glass to read aloud a letter from his future counterpart explaining that he has been accidentally sent back to 1885 by a lightning bolt, damaging the time circuits which Doc was unable to repair since the only suitable parts wouldn't be invented until 1947. Enclosed is a map describing where the DeLorean time machine is located, with the letter mentioning that in the DeLorean are instructions on how to repair it using 1955 components so that Marty can return to 1985; once he has arrived back, he must destroy the time machine. The 1985 Doc explains in the letter that he doesn't want Marty to come and pick him up from 1885; he is perfectly happy there and has accepted his new life as a blacksmith in the Old West, as well as fearing that unnecessary time travel will cause further damage to the space/time continuum. After they recover the DeLorean from an abandoned gold mine, the exacavation of which is documented using Doc's camera, they discover a tombstone bearing Doc's name and stating that he died on September 7, 1885, only four days after writing the letter. The tombstone also reads that Doc had been shot in the back by Biff's great grandfather Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen "over a matter of eighty dollars" and was erected for him "by his beloved Clara", a name which Doc doesn't recognize. Marty takes a photograph of the tombstone. Going against the 1985 Doc's instructions to go immediately back to that year and then destroy the time machine, Marty decides to go back to 1885 to rescue his comrade.
Doc restores the DeLorean to working order with replacement parts that are available in 1955. It is now equipped with oversized whitewall tires (to replace the original tires which had long since rotted away), and a tray of vacuum tubes strapped to the hood to replace the damaged time circuit control microchip. The time machine's flying circuits were also damaged, as mentioned in the letter, so the car will never fly again. Doc and Marty take the fixed DeLorean to the Indian-motifed Pohatchee Drive-In Theater outside of town. Marty, wearing a novelty cowboy costume, takes off from the back of the lot and heads towards the screen tower, reaching the required 88 mph and transports to September 2, 1885 just before hitting the tower.After surviving scares from Indians, the Cavalry chasing them, and a black bear residing in the cave Marty hides the DeLorean in (during which the DeLorean's fuel line is ripped), he finds refuge with his own great-great-grandfather Seamus McFly (also played by Michael J. Fox). He introduces himself as "Clint Eastwood", and Seamus, followed reluctantly by his wife Maggie, agree to help Marty find his "blacksmith friend". The next day, Marty goes into Hill Valley, and goes into the local saloon to try and find out where Doc lives. Buford shows up however, and picks a fight with Marty, in no small part due to the ridiculous "Western" clothing given to him by the 1955 Doc. The result is a chase that ends with Buford and his gang attempting to hang Marty from the partly-complete clock tower, at which point Doc shows up carrying a rifle with a full-size telescope attached to the top as a rifle-sight. Doc severs the rope with a single shot, saving his young friend. Buford then demands $80 from Doc to replace a horse he shot a few days previously, along with a bottle of Kentucky Red-eye, blaming a horseshoe Doc attached (a job which Buford didn't pay for). Doc refuses, and Buford promises to kill him. Doc takes Marty back to his workshop, and the two are set to return home when Marty mentions that the car is out of gas, much to Doc's horror. Marty is unconcerned, believing they can use "Mr. Fusion" to draw energy from any object placed inside to power the time machine, but Doc tells Marty that Mr. Fusion only powers the time circuits and flux capacitor. The actual car has always run on unleaded gasoline. "There won't be a gas station around until sometime next century...", hence they are out of gas and luck (the exact opposite problem to the first movie: enough power, not enough propulsion). Doc's first idea is to get a team of horses to pull the DeLorean to 88 mph, but this is obviously a flop, as the car barely breaks 20 mph. The second plan is to fill the DeLorean's gas tank with the strongest whiskey from the saloon; unfortunately this proves too volatile and destroys the engine's fuel injector.
The plan to return to 1985Doc devises a plan to push the DeLorean with a train locomotive across a bridge over Shonash Ravine (which they know as Clayton Ravine) that has not been completed yet, but will be in use in 1985 when Marty arrives. However, Doc finds himself infatuated with the town's schoolteacher Clara Clayton after rescuing her from falling into the ravine. Afterwards, Marty realizes that Clayton Ravine was supposed to be named after her, remembering the story that it was named after a schoolteacher who fell in. Doc is shocked that he saved a person who was meant to die, and this deepens his resolve to destroy the time machine.
Soon after, Marty and Doc attend the town festival which is also doubling as the inauguration of the clock tower which is still being built, with Marty and Doc getting a photo in front of the clock before it is set in place. However things take a turn for the worse when Buford arrives to kill Doc, two days earlier than the date of death revealed on his tombstone. Buford reveals to Doc that the last time he shot a person with a derringer, a small pistol that can only fire a single shot, it took two days for them to bleed out. Marty foils his attempt to shoot Doc by flinging a plate at Buford's hand (causing the derringer to go off harmlessly in the air, wasting Buford's only shot) and tells Buford to leave his friends alone. When Marty starts to leave, Buford calls him "yellow", Marty's self-control crumbles, and now Marty is challenged to a duel that Monday morning.
The next day however, Marty notices that a photo he took of the Doc's gravestone has changed... now the tombstone is blank. Doc points out that the tombstone may be blank but since it's still actually present means that one of them could be dead on Monday. Marty tells Doc that he will leave with him in the DeLorean on Monday, but "if Buford Tannen comes looking for trouble, he's gonna get it." Doc warns him that he shouldn't get mad every time someone calls him a name because that what causes him to "get into that accident in the future" referring to the Rolls-Royce incident mentioned in Part II. Marty is curious at what Doc means, but the Doc does not tell because "it could make things worse". Marty tries again, and asks, "Doc, what is wrong with my future?" but his friend just answers "Marty, we all do things that affect the course of our lives. You gotta do what you gotta do, and I gotta do...what I gotta do".
Later that night, Doc tells Marty that he wants to stay with Clara in 1885 because he is in love with her, but Marty talks him out of it. Marty suggests that Clara come with them, but Doc rejects the idea and sadly notes that travelling through time is too painful. Going to Clara's house, Doc angers Clara by telling her that he is a scientist from 1985 and that he has a time machine. Clara thinks Doc is making fun of her and lying, so she slaps and rejects him. Doc, who is heartbroken, goes to the Palace Saloon to get drunk. The next day, Marty finds Doc at the bar before he drinks his glass of whiskey but is too late to prevent Doc from drinking it. Marty tends to the unconscious scientist and revives him just in time to fight Buford. Outside, Marty looks at the photo of the gravestone, and the name "Clint Eastwood" appears. However, Marty is able to defeat Tannen with a trick the real Clint Eastwood once used, and punches him into a cart full of manure. The sheriffs come to arrest him, and when asked if he has anything to say, Buford spits out manure, and exclaims, "I hate manure!" Marty looks at the photo of the tombstone, which was broken in half during his fight with Buford, just in time to see it vanish from the picture. Doc and Marty then leave to go "borrow" the locomotive.
Meanwhile, Clara prepares to leave town but then hears from a traveling salesman just how upset Doc is that he hurt her. Clara stops the train and returns to his workshop, finding the model that Doc prepared to illustrate his plan to push the DeLorean and realizes he was telling the truth. She quickly leaves to catch him.
Holding up the train, Doc and Marty tells him to decouple the train from the coaches. When the driver asks if it is a hijack, Marty and Doc look at each other, and Doc answers, "It's a science experiment!" In order to get the train up to 88 m.p.h., he is intending to use special Presto logs to push the train far above its maximum speed. This will destroy the train's engine, but should do the trick. They then put the DeLorean in front of the train and begin to push it, with Doc in the cab to insert the logs and Marty waiting in the car. Neither notices Clara catch up and board the train.As Doc is climbing on the outside of the train to reach the DeLorean, Clara blows the train's whistle. As there's no way to slow the train down in time before they hit the ravine Doc goes back for her, making the decision to take her back to the future. Before he can reach her however, the train releases an explosion as the final log ignites, causing Doc to lose his footing and Clara to hang precariously as the train sharply speeds up. Luckily, Marty is able to slip Doc the hoverboard he took back with him from 2015. Doc rescues Clara just in time. However the DeLorean is about to hit 88 mph and there's no time to get them aboard so Marty is forced to go back to the future himself. As the DeLorean hits 88 m.p.h. and disappears the train flies off of the bridge, crashing into the valley, and is destroyed in a spectacular explosion.
Back in 1985
Upon arriving back to October 27, 1985 on Eastwood Ravine (named after Marty's pseudonym), the DeLorean returns to the present. As the car rides along the rails, Marty gets several strange looks from onlookers but is too relieved to be back to worry. A few seconds after the DeLorean finally stops, Marty suddenly heads a loud horn and sees a massive freight train heading towards him. He barely has time to bolt from the car before the train plows through and completely demolishes it. Marty returns to the wreckage seconds later, knowing that Doc's wishes have been fulfilled and the time machine has been destroyed but it upset as it means Doc is trapped in 1885 and Marty will not ever see him again.
Marty then reunites with his girlfriend Jennifer and his family (as well as Biff) at home - in relief that everything had returned to the now-normal 1985 after the events of Back to the Future Part II. On their way to the wreckage in Marty's truck, Marty runs into Needles and his gang, who challenges him to a speed race at a traffic light. Jennifer tries to persuade Marty not to accept it, but when Needles calls Marty a "chicken", Marty shifts the truck into gear and looks like he is going to take the challenge. However, a few seconds later, using his better judgment, he escapes the challenge by shifting the truck into reverse having decided he doesn't care what an asshole like Needles thinks of him; he then discovers that if he had gone on with the race, he would have hit a Rolls Royce (see Marty McFly page). In 2015, Jennifer had overheard Marty's mother and daughter talking about how Marty was sued by the driver and, because he injured his hand in the accident, he gave up his dream of being a rock star. She looks at the print-out she kept of Marty McFly's firing in 2015 as the words YOU'RE FIRED!!! fade away.He returns to the DeLorean's wreckage site with Jennifer. Thinking he would not see Doc again, Marty is surprised as the railroad crossing lights activate without a train in sight. The Doc has returned to 1985 in a new time machine, fashioned in the form of a modified 1880s-era locomotive,which runs on steam as the Doc says, with the Flux Capacitor located on the front. Doc is now married to Clara and they have two sons, Jules and Verne (named after Clara and Doc's favorite author, Jules Verne). He gives Marty a present... the framed photo that the two took in front of the clock, with the inscription "To Marty, Partner in Time. September 5th, 1885" Jennifer asks about the fax, and Doc assures her that the future isn't set in stone but whatever they make of it... and tells them to make it a good one. Marty asks Doc if he's going back to the future, but Doc tells him that he's already been there. The two watch as the train itself lifts off of the track and turns around in midair, much like the DeLorean did in Part I, accelerates toward the viewer, and with Marty and Jennifer waving goodbye the train vanishes into another time, as the movie and the story come to an end.
Release and recognitions
The movie grossed US$23 million in its first weekend of US release and $87.6 million altogether in US box office receipts – $243 million worldwide.
In 1990, the movie 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.
On December 17, 2002 Universal Studios released Back to the Future Part III in a boxed set with the first two films on DVD and VHS which did extremely well. In the DVD widescreen edition there was a minor framing flaw that Universal has since corrected, available in sets manufactured after February 21, 2003.
The three films were re-released in 2009 individually on DVD, and in a 25th anniversary set on October 26, 2010 on Blu-ray and DVD.
Cast and crew
- Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Seamus McFly
- Christopher Lloyd as Dr Emmett "Doc" Brown
- Mary Steenburgen as Clara Clayton
- Thomas F. Wilson as Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen and Biff Tannen
- Lea Thompson as Maggie McFly and Lorraine Baines McFly
- James Tolkan as Marshal Strickland
- Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer Parker
- Jeffrey Weissman as George McFly
- Matt Clark as Chester, the bartender
- Dub Taylor as Saloon Old-Timer #1
- Harry Carey, Jr. as Saloon Old-Timer #2
- Pat Buttram as Saloon Old-Timer #3
- Burton Gilliam as Colt Gun Salesman
- Robert Zemeckis: director/screenwriter
- Bob Gale: producer/screenwriter
- Neil Canton: producer
- Kathleen Kennedy: executive producer
- Frank Marshall: executive producer
- Steven Spielberg: executive producer
- Steve Starkey: associate producer
Universal logoUniversal Pictures had selected Back to the Future Part III to feature its then-new computer generated logo for the first time. This was in celebration of the studio's 75th anniversary. The start of the sequence displayed the former versions of the Universal logo before the new one. The new logo featured the UNIVERSAL rolling in from the right angle of the animated globe. It also featured a light orchestral tune by film composer James Horner. Universal continued using this logo up until 1997, when a more modern-looking revamp of this logo (and new music) was introduced.
According to the DVD audio commentary, Bob Gale had originally suggested that the studio should use the Universal logo from the 80s so that all three films would be consistent. But Universal executives wanted to use the new logo, because they felt that Back to the Future Part III would be the studio's biggest film of 1990.
Back To The Future: Part III is the second movie in the trilogy to feature a major-label band on its soundtrack. Southern rockers ZZ Top contributed "Doubleback" from their 1990 album Recycler to the soundtrack, and the trio even have a cameo appearance during the town's festival scene as the band. (They are not credited as themselves in the movie, although their trademark appearance does not change for their roles.) The subsequent video for "Doubleback" also uses clips from the movie. This video is featured on the 2002 DVD release of the Back To The Future trilogy.
- Back to the Future Part III was possibly shot under the working title "Three". This was most likely done to try to lessen the amount of publicity.
- In the beginning of the movie, 1955 Doc Brown learns what happens to 1985 Doc Brown that causes 1985 Doc Brown to be sent to 1885. 1955 Doc Brown should then be able to retain this knowledge until 1985 to avoid the accident, just as he used knowledge of the future to wear a bulletproof vest during the first time travel experiment in the first installment of the series. However, it should be noted that when he first hears of his 1985 self being sent to 1885, he is initially receptive to the idea. Also, after someone has time traveled their memories would be the ones from the original timeline before they time traveled, even if they changed the timeline (Marty's memory doesn't change in the first movie), so Doc from 1985 wouldn't have the modified 1955 Doc's memory. Another way of looking at it is that the Doc that first creates the time machine does not know to wear a bullet proof vest until Marty goes back to tell his Doc's younger self. Also, the Doc that first creates the time machine has no knowledge of Marty from the past until Marty goes back and then returns. So, the Doc that is in the DeLorean that gets hit by lightning sending it back to 1885 doesn't know to watch out for the lightning because Marty hasn't told his older self yet. 1955 Doc is well aware of paradoxes and even later admits that "It sounds like a wonderful way to spend my retirement years" implying that he would let it happen anyway. Also knowing that Marty went back to save him adds to this theory.
- In 1955, while fixing the time circuits, Doc sneers and remarks, "No wonder this circuit failed; it says 'Made in Japan'." Marty replies, "What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan." His remark is based on the reputation of Japanese products that, until the "Golden '60s economic miracle", the products were often cheap and poorly made. By the 1970s (and even today), Japan has become one of the world leaders in technology.
- Doc tells Marty that his family, the Von Brauns, arrived in the United States in 1908, but changed their name to Brown as a result of World War I. Wernher Von Braun was a German scientist who is responsible for the design for the infamous V2 Rocket of the second World War, as well as assisting the Americans in their race to space in the 1950s.
- At the Pohatchee Drive-In Theater, Doc asks Marty who Clint Eastwood is. Marty looks at the poster next to him and says, "That's right; you haven't heard of him yet." The poster is for Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula, which starred Clint Eastwood in his first movies. Eastwood was not offended at having his name used in this film, and was reportedly rather amused at the notion.
- Despite the thriving business of drive-in theaters in the 50's (with over 4,000 in operation by 1958) and the use of real drive-ins in other movies (such as Grease and Ski Party), the Pohatchee Drive-In featured in Part III was only propped specifically for the movie. Built in the open plains of Monument Valley, Utah, it was immediately torn down after completion of the film.
- When Marty arrives in 1885 and rips the fuel line of the DeLorean, causing all of the fuel to leak out, fans often criticize the film for failing to have Marty siphon gas out of the other version of the car - the one that is still buried in the mine and which Marty will one day unearth (and from his point of view, already has) in 1955. However, it is unlikely that this car has any gas in it; when storing a car for long periods of time, one drains out all the fluids (including gasoline), and Doc would surely have done this before burying the car in the mine (this is borne out by a line of dialogue from 1955 Doc, after the DeLorean is unearthed from the mine. He says "I put gas in the tank" - thus, there must not have been any gas in the car when it was buried in the mine). Also, Marty would not want to risk damaging the other DeLorean because it would leave him with no car to use in 1955, creating a paradox.
- While shooting the stunt where Marty is being hanged by Tannen and his gang, Fox offered to try the stunt without using a box to stand on. He then miscalculated where his hand would slip between the rope and his neck, actually hanging himself, causing him to pass out.
- Gasoline, while not commonly available at gas stations in 1885, would still have been relatively easy to come by, as it was collected and burnt as a nearly useless waste byproduct of petroleum processing to obtain lamp oil and kerosene, which were more valuable. However, with the time restraint placed by Doc's impending death, it may have been impossible to travel to an oil processing plant and return in time, and Doc and Marty tried alternatives to gasoline which destroyed the engine.
- Doc says during the movie that Marty and he could use the DeLorean on ice to make it past 88 mph, but ice wouldn't appear until winter. However, after Buford Tannen is put in jail, they could have waited as long as they want, but the argument of the movie was that the train was the last and only hope.
- A scene with Buford Tannen killing Marshall Strickland was filmed but not included in the movie, though it was retained in the novelization (and later as a bonus scene in the 2002 DVD release). Therefore, there was no explanation in the actual film why it was not Marshall Strickland who arrested Tannen at the end of the film. Because of the loss of this scene, this is probably why Tannen is charged with robbing the Pine City stage on-screen (the line being simply redubbed in post-production), rather than with the murder of Marshall Strickland as in the book.
- We are told in the middle of the film that, because Doc and Marty saved Clara from falling in the ravine, the ravine won't be named after her in 1985, thus changing the future. At the end of the film where Marty goes back to 1985 on the railway on the DeLorean, as he passes the railway crossings, the path is named "Eastwood Ravine", named after Marty's 1885 alias, Clint Eastwood.
- When Doc and Marty discover Doc's 1885 gravestone in 1955, it reads "Survived by his Beloved Clara". This initially appears to be a continuity error by the producers (because Doc saves Clara from falling into the ravine), but because Marty had not gone to 1885 initially, Doc was around to pick up Clara from the train station, and she never fell in this first altered timeline. In the second altered timeline, Marty's knowledge of the tombstone made Doc decide not to pick up Clara at the train station (believing that it would prevent a love infatuation) and instead he focused on fixing the DeLorean. Since Doc didn't pick her up, Clara's events started to resume similar to the original timeline up until Doc saved her.
- The clothes that Doc wears in the final scene in the movie were modeled after the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.
- Before Marty takes the repaired DeLorean back to 1885, if one looks closely, you can see the "Last time departed" reads sometime in October. This makes little sense given the context of Part 2. The last time departed should read November 12, 1955, since the DeLorean went from there to January 1, 1885, before being buried for 70 years in the Delgado Mine. One explanation might be that the lightning strike further messed up the electronics for the time display, which had been malfunctioning before the lightning hit.
- Unlike parts I and II where the composition for "The Clocktower" and "Burn the Book" is played near the end of the movie, the composition here is played early in the beginning, when Marty is ready to go back to 1885.
- Speaking of which, Lea Thompson's character is not in silhouette when she comforts Marty after passing out, unlike the first two movies. This was done possibly because everyone would have seen it coming.
- The train station and setting of 1885 Hill Valley by the railway/railroad tracks of Jamestown, are now non existant due to a wildfire that destroyed the setting shortly after Back To The Future Part 3 was filmed.
- The film series apparently takes place in the same universe as the 2014 film 'A Million Ways to Die in The West', when a scene showed Doc Brown trying to hide the DeLorean from the main character, Albert Stark (the 2014 comedy, however, was set in 1882 and Christopher Lloyd's cameo appearance was one of the many jokes within the film).
Video and computer games
LJN released an NES game called Back to the Future II & III, a sequel to their game based on the first movie. 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.
|Organizations and titles||Vehicles||Weapons and technology||Miscellanea|
Organizations and titles
Weapons and technology
- Back to the Future timeline
- Back to the Future trilogy
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part II
- ↑ Back to the Future: The Complete Trilogy featurettes
- Official Universal Pictures site
- BTTF Frequently Asked Questions written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis
- Back to the Future Part III at the Internet Movie Database
- - Back To The Future - French website A big website !
- BTTFPt - Portuguese/brazilian blog
- Back to the Future Part III at VidTaggr - Regularly updated trivia and information viewed in real-time with the movie.
|Back to the Future trilogy|
|Back to the Future | Back to the Future Part II | Back to the Future Part III|
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