I was only one year old when Back to the Future came out, but when I think about being a tiny child watching movies, it’s the one that comes to mind the most. I think I saw it when I was, I dunno, 4 years old? I definitely know I saw Back to the Future Part II in the theaters with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins and I remember them being aghast at the foul language they had allowed a 5-year-old to hear. I didn’t care! The second that came out on tape, we bought it. Same with Part III the following year. More than any other films, the travails of Doc and Marty were my childhood.
This is probably not a unique story for people of my generation; these are movies beloved by millions. What better time, then to celebrate it in the most in-depth and gripping way possible, in a book you can see, feel, and smell? Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin with Randal Antamaniuk is a treasure trove of information and pictures taking the reader all the way from the kernel of an idea in the heads of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, all the way through to the Universal Studios ride and and Saturday morning cartoon.
Klastorin was the production publicist on Part II and Part III and has spent the intervening years compiling every bit of Back to the Future ephemera he could to make one of the most complete histories of a film franchise ever written. He delves into the trouble the Bobs had getting the movie made in the first place, takes you through the differences in the many drafts of the film, discusses the brief Eric Stoltz era in detail, each and every week of production on all three films, the promotion, the music — literally everything.
One my favorite early stories from the book details the long and arduous journey Zemeckis and Gale had in getting their script made. Nobody was interested in making it, even after copious notes from Columbia. Eventually, only Steven Spielberg believed in it, but because he’d produced Zemeckis’ two previous, money-losing films, it was deemed a bad business decision for the future. Ultimately, however, because of one of those money-losing films, Used Cars, Zemeckis was approached by Michael Douglas to direct the action-comedy Romancing the Stone, which made a huge amount of money and got Zemeckis some much needed clout. Then Spielberg was approached, and they took it directly to Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal, a studio that had flatly refused the script twice. Gah, I love stories like that, and it’s only the first few pages of the book.
Information on its own, no matter how fascinating, might not make for a good book; luckily this is The Ultimate Visual History and visual is the operative word. Each and every page has some sort of full, glossy photograph from some part of the films’ creation, be they production stills, concept art, or storyboards. These images are amazing and truly help the reader visualize the thought processes. Pictures of things that didn’t end up in the movie are by far the most interesting, like actor Marc McClure’s deleted scene as a drunken Dave McFly in the alternate 1985 sequence in the second film. If it was documented, it’s in this book.
And, just because you should be even more rewarded, the book also contains various Easter eggs stuck in between certain pages. These include things like a holographic photo of Marty and his disappearing siblings, a replica of the letter Marty wrote to Doc about the future, the letter Doc wrote to Marty from 1885, the dust jacket for George McFly’s book A Match Made in Space, a fake Biff Buck from his casino, and even a poster for Jaws 19. I mean, what else could you possibly want?
Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History has a Foreword by Michael J. Fox, a preface by Christopher Lloyd, an introduction by Bob Gale, and an afterword by Robert Zemeckis, as well as interviews/comments from dozens of people involved in the making of the films. I’m gonna repeat this again: You cannot get a more in-depth or enjoyable look at movies you love than this, out now. Put it on your Christmas list, buy it for your friend or yourself. This is something any Back to the Future fan needs in their life.
Check out more images from the book in the gallery below!
Images: Harper Collins
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!