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Book Review: Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History
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Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History title

Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History
Hardcover | Kindle
Written by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk
Foreword by Michael J. Fox
Preface by Christopher Lloyd
Introduction by Bob Gale
Afterword by Robert Zemeckis
Harper Design | HarperCollins Publishers
Release date: October 20, 2015

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Back To The Future, the Robert Zemeckis-directed Steven Spielberg-produced film that went on to become one of the greatest and most beloved movies of our time, spawning two sequels that were equally enjoyed. In conjunction with this milestone, Insight Editions has released Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, a coffee table-sized full-cover hardcover packed with details about the film trilogy, highlighted with behind-the-scenes photos, concept art, storyboards, and a host of removable collectible-type items.

Though Back to the Future was an instant hit when Universal Pictures released it back in 1985, it was a long road from concept to screen for director/screenwriter Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale. Though the filmmakers had a great idea for a film about a time-travel, their initial draft of the script was rejected by over 40 movie studios. A tidbit like that is hard to believe today when we see how deeply rooted the film is in today’s pop culture, but The Ultimate Visual History reveals their lengthy struggle, which also included their multiple attempts to get Michael J. Fox, who was locked in at the time to his schedule on the popular TV sitcom Family Ties, as the lead.

After Universal Pictures, at the urging of Steven Spielberg, who promised to sign on as executive producer, gave Back to the Future the green light, the filmmakers still had a lot to prove, and with a limited budget, tight schedule, and bouts of inclement weather, making movie magic proved to be quite difficult, especially after they reluctantly gave the lead role to actor Eric Stoltz, who reportedly would not deviated from his strict Method Acting technique on set.

But, the filmmakers still felt that they had something very special on their hands with Back To The Future, and as luck would have, they eventually were able to snag then-TV star Michael J. Fox for the role. Fox brought to life Marty McFly, an 80’s teenager who travels back in time 30 years, courtesy of his eccentric older scientist friend Doc Brown’s trick-out DeLorean time machine, to a time just before his teenaged parents fell in love. The problem is, his arrival in 1955 disrupts the timeline, endangering his parents’ uniting, and subsequently his own existence!

Written by Michael Klastorin (who was the production publicist on the sequel) with Randal Atamaniuk (a professed BTTF expert), Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History provides details on the progression of the original film’s script, even providing sample pages from the various iterations, as well as the big scoop on what happened with Stoltz — an intriguing story that only surfaced in recent years thanks to the circulation on social media of the archival photos of the actor in several scenes. This is just a small sample of what’s contained in this mega tome, which also goes into the specifics about the two sequels, the first of which sent Marty to the future to 2015 — October 21, 2015, to be exact — with the second being a trip way back to the Old West, where Doc falls in love and Marty meets his ancestors, who are newly arrived to America at the time from Ireland. Along with the feature films, there’s also chapters on the subsequent animated series, as well as the popular Universal Studios theme park ride (which has since been converted to a Simpsons ride, sadly). There’s even a tiny bit at the end about the what the future holds for the Back To The Future franchise.

As well as being a feast for your eyes, this visual history also includes interviews with stars Michael J. Fox (who also wrote the foreword), Christopher Lloyd (who also penned the preface), and Lea Thompson, as well as filmmakers Robert Zemeckis (who provided the Afterword), Bob Gale (who contributed the Introduction), Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, and Kathleen Kennedy, as well as many other people who were on the crew.

A nice touch for this hardcover book is the many removable prop replicas attached throughout the pages, such as the Save the Clocktower leaflet, complete with Jennifer’s grandma’s number written on the back; the sepia photo of Doc and Marty from Part III (the one Marty lamented no one would ever see!); a lenticular version of the fading McFly siblings photo from the original film that has Marty’s brother and sister disappear when held at a specific angle; the slipcover for George McFly’s science fiction novel, A Match Made In Space, and much more. Oh, and there’s even a fold-out poster for JAWS 19, the clever nod in Part II to executive producer Spielberg and his mega-hit JAWS franchise for Universal (which, at the time of BTTF2’s release in 1989, had already seen a fourth film, Jaws: The Revenge).

The only issue I had with this enticing feature is that if the inserts are left attached, the text behind it becomes more difficult to read and the insert more likely to detach when moved; but, if the collectibles are removed, there’s nowhere within the book to store them. While the posters can be hung, or photos displayed, items like Marty’s high school tardy slip and the receipt for Grays Sports Almanac can eventually become lost. Just a slight annoyance, as I wish there had been pockets or slipcases included to house the inserts (I plan to get a manilla envelope to store the replicas, and put it in the back of the book), but otherwise, this is a phenomenal product all around.

A great attribute of this 224-page oversized hardcover edition is that it is surprisingly lightweight and easy to handle, even though its dimensions are similar to a college textbook, and its packed with the aforementioned multiple prop replica inserts. It also has quality paper stock and a sturdy binding, which makes this both an attractive and coffee table book. Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is a treasure trove of information and visual wonder for the entire Back To The Future franchise, and is a must-have for any fan’s collection, and would make a superb gift for someone this holiday season.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: The Ultimate Visual History

Removable items include:

– Hill Valley High School Tardy Slip
– Back to the Future The Ride security pass
– Save the Clocktower leaflet
– Sepia photograph of Marty and Doc from Part III
– Marty’s note to Doc from the first film with the envelope
– George McFly’s book
– Jaws 19 movie poster
– George and Lorraine’s prom photo
– Doc’s flux capacitor sketch from the first film
– Doc’s note to Marty from 1885
– Biff one dollar bill from Part II
– Blast from the Past receipt from Part II
– Lenticular version of the iconic McFly family photo from the first film

Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History cover

Here’s a video Preview of the book from the Publisher:

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