Back to the Future of Back to the Future
by Patrick Huang on Friday, November 6th, 2015
The future depicted in the movie Back to the Future 2 is no longer the future, at least for us. In the movie, protagonists Doc Brown and Marty McFly travel to the exact date of October 21, 2015 to prevent the event believed to cause the downfall of the McFly family. Given that October 21, 2015 was just days ago, we can now see whether or not the director’s portrayal of the future and its technological advancements is accurate. Surprisingly, many of the movie’s predictions came true.
Technological devices, such as widescreen televisions, handheld electronic devices, and video games must have seemed outlandish to the original audience of the movie. Yet, all of these technologies were brought into existence by the 21st century and were eventually integrated into our daily lives.
Even the prevalent issue of addiction to our electronic devices is accurately depicted in the movie by Marty McFly’s future children. We still might not be able to predict weather to the exact second or go to a rejuvenation clinic that makes a person appear decades younger, but we’ve made significant progress in the fields of weather forecasting and plastic surgery, just simply not to the extent that the movie showed.
Now, one might be wondering: is the method through which Doc Brown powered the DeLorean actually realistic? The preposterous idea of using garbage to power a time-traveling car may be where we draw the line between fact and fiction, except that we have actually managed to make this technology possible…in a sense. The concept is essentially the same as that of biogas, which according to the United States Department of Energy, is the production of gases from the breakdown of organic matter (a.k.a garbage). Though the biogas currently produced offers only a small fraction of the energy output that plutonium does, it is a renewable source of energy that can serve as fuel for our cars.
Yet, we’ve forgotten to account for two big aspects of the movie. First, one of the scenes in Back to the Future 2 places us in a bustling highway full of high-speed, flying cars. Today, cars with the capability to switch between driving on land and flying in the air have actually been invented. However, the cost of these flying cars and the lack of landing and takeoff sites make them impractical for popular use.
Second, in the movie Marty McFly rides a hoverboard in order to avoid his enemies as well as snatch a sports almanac and save the world. Similar to flying cars, hoverboards have been successfully created, but can support only their weight in the air; a human on top is currently out of the question.
Overall, Back to the Future 2 got many things right. Although the prospect of a flying car and hoverboard for each household is not practical, we can still hope for their eventual use. Realistic or not, Back to the Future 2 is a movie that entertained the masses; so what if it was not perfect? What is important is that the film had a transformative effect on the movie industry, capturing audiences with its groundbreaking technology and incredible action. George Luo (Class III), head of the new Digital Filmmaking Club, summarized this point brilliantly: “A movie is about moving images and moving actions. If there is no action we should just turn the lights off and call it radio.”
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