Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Music in Movies: Back to the Future

By Jim Scroggs
September 7, 2016

This is a horrible way to start a piece about a movie that I love so much but I can’t honestly remember when I saw Back to the Future for the first time. However, It’s one of those films that has seemingly always been a part of my life and this isn’t about how great the characters are, how good the story is or how well it’s held up, even more than 30 years later. This is about how a simple piece of music has been ingrained in me since I was a child and frankly, how underrated the Back to the Future theme is for this classic American film.

Once I watched it for the umpteenth time, I noticed that the theme isn’t heard until about 30 minutes in and a slightly more complete version later after the 1 hour mark. There’s no way that would fly now, especially in the 90’s when artists would make songs solely for movie soundtracks and they would be played ad nauseam. This is a piece of music that has aged perfectly with the film so much that despite it being set in 2 different decades, it still works to this day. It’s epic, classical, somewhat modern to the 80’s considering the John Williams similarities and is just flat out timeless. I won’t take anything away from Star Wars, Superman, Chariots of Fire, Gone with the Wind and the countless other scores that deserve every amount of praise they’ve gotten but this is art that should be considered among the best ever but I haven’t seen that discussion. The horns, the strings and the wind instruments are so perfectly placed that adding anything else could ruin it and that is the sign of a true masterpiece.

I’m convinced I could be 75 years old, hear the crashing symbols along with the horns in the beginning and I will stand up straight with my chest out ready to go on an epic adventure. It automatically takes me back to the end of the film when we see the Delorean fly for the first time, Marty “invents” the skateboard and travels to 1985 from 1955. Alan Silvestri has done some amazing work with Forrest Gump, Castaway, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers and currently working on Avengers 3 and 4 but I think his lasting legacy will be this piece of art that in it’s simplicity has made millions of fans not only fall in love with the film but love the music that comes along with it.

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