Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk

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Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk

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Category: Entertainment
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: I could question the balance of the information in this companion volume, but the pictorial wealth adds to the value of this making-of, and it'll be fondly cherished by many.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 9781783299706

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Well, thankfully I have never had to sit through Jaws 19. Of all the perks invented for the heady days of October 2015 by the middle film in the Back to the Future trilogy, that was one of the least inviting. I've never actually seen that middle film, either – really liked the original and still do, had the middle one pass me by totally, then saw the third so often as a cinema steward (shows my age!) I was word perfect on the script. The threesome is one of a most wholesome kind – the restoration of family values through grabbing hold of your own destiny by the horns, the application of science to save the day over brawns and shooting people up, the habitually dung-filled comeuppance of the baddies throughout time – it's no wonder that the trilogy is much loved. And as it's the most pictorial and detailed guide to their creation on paper imaginable, this volume will follow it into many hearts.

It didn't quite win me over, but boy is it something to cherish for those who love the whole series. Early draughts of each script are given summaries, all the key people in front of and behind the cameras are given a tiny introduction and yet remain with us throughout as friends (use of contemporary interview output is kept to a bare minimum due to the current day fondness everyone has for revisiting what they were making 25-30 years ago), and we really do get the minutiae of how the films were made. We're at the halfway mark when the first film is a success, which is only fair, as it is the key piece of work, and the story of how it had a tentative start, and a complete reshoot for the hero character after five whole weeks' work, is a remarkable tale. Beyond that we look at the two sequels, made back-to-back to such an industry the makers were flying hundreds of miles to check, say, the finished FX for one, in the evenings, then flying back at sun-up to make the other. We close with the hugely successful theme park rides, and the animated series, which will be a kick in the teeth of those who made the computer game such an equal success – deemed as it is the lost fourth episode by many.

It's clear that the films were made with a touch of love and no small amount of intelligence, storytelling nous and determination to get the unusual on screen. The book has just as much heart and brains, although for me the writing was at times not quite as sharp as it might have been. A lot seemed like too literal a production journal – 'this week they filmed x scenes by day, and y scenes at night, while z was doing this, that and the other'. While this is no major problem – it's worth it being on record that such beloved scenes were recorded in such-and-such a location, and the end product of very few films will have been shot in chronological order – I did feel that several instances where we could have branched out were missed. The stress on the editors is down to a paragraph or two – the same as minor injuries on set, the production design department is represented by their visual results and not so much the detail of their hard graft, and there's nothing about how some guys drummed up enough support to launch the first film on over 1300 screens just nine weeks after principal photography had finished, with such a successful result. Even with Michael J Fox's name at the time there must have been a huge publicity campaign, but we don't see it.

Still, what we do see is a heck of a lot. There are so many publicity stills, design images – even personal family photos from the makers that helped inspire the plot of the first film. The book is nothing if not comprehensive visually, and it makes for great use of a great archive. We get several 'found artefacts' too, not shoved into an envelope like some similar volumes do, but glued to pages in awkward places. So letters and photos from the films are duplicated, and several other key documents are ours to pore over alongside the main book – even the poster for that aforementioned Jaws 19. It might not convince anyone you've seen it, but you'll become an expert on the making of its begetter with this volume, and like as not have a great time following the rags-to-riches tale of its creation.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Interstellar: Beyond Time And Space by Mark Cotta Vaz was a fine making-of. For followers of a younger audience's film franchise, you might enjoy Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson.

Buy Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk at Amazon.com.

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