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Back to the Future Part III

Entry updated 3 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1989). Credits as for Part II, but also starring Mary Steenburgen. 119 minutes. Colour.

The final sequel to Back to the Future (1985). Made with Back to the Future Part II and released soon after, this is a hammy but enjoyable resolution of the Time Travel story. Where Part II emphasizes change and darkness, this emphasizes continuity and reconciliation. Marty digs the damaged Time Machine out of a cave where it was buried in the past by Dr Brown, who is "now" stranded in the Wild West town which was Hill Valley, and, to judge from a nearby gravestone, will be shot in the back on 7 September 1885. Marty returns to that year on 2 September dressed in Western kitsch and adopting the pseudonym Clint Eastwood. He finds a rough town on the verge of transition into a decent community, and demonstrates his irrelevant, suburban 1985 values to the 1885 avatar of Biff the bully while learning some new ones himself. There is something pleasantly narcissistic and self-referential about the Back to the Future series embracing the past history of its own small-town Californian setting so passionately, like a communal version of wooing your own mother, the Freudian threat of the original film. If Marty and Brown make love to their own history the right way, it is intimated, then Hill Valley will always be a comfortable, limited, tranquil Garden of Eden. The overall vision of the three films is of a static paradise poised dangerously above the dark abyss of uncertainty and change. [PN]


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