Back to the Future is a fun adventure film that honors the traditions of sci-fi. But one hidden detail adds another layer to its love of the genre.
Over the decades, science fiction has evolved to encompass any genre and allowed for creative films like Tenet and even many superhero films. That said, traditional science fiction is much harder to come by as many huge franchises have become the backbone of the genre. But before Star Wars was as big a phenomenon as it is now and Star Trek got its resurgence, sci-fi had an iconic trilogy that served as a love letter to what came before — Back to the Future.
Back to the Future followed the life of Marty McFly and his friend Doc Brown after Brown invented a time-traveling car out of a DeLorean. After being forced to use it to save his life, Marty was sent to 1955, where he had to find a younger Doc Brown and try to get back to his home. But he failed to realize that this was the start of an even greater adventure. That said, one detail that hid in plain sight served as a clever homage to the original time travel story, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.
Back to the Future Homaged The Time Machine
Based on the 1895 novella, The Time Machine followed a scientist from 1900 as he traveled forward in time via a device of his own creation. A film version was released in 1960 that followed the same story and helped continue to set a standard that Wells and other sci-fi writers like Jules Verne introduced. Instead of a car, Wells’ time machine was a stationary device that could be controlled from a cockpit and featured green, red and yellow lights. As was revealed in Back to the Future: Making the Trilogy, these lights were also a major Easter egg found in the DeLorean.
In the film, the second most important device besides the Flux Capacitor was the car’s time circuits. On the screen, it showed audiences where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going. But the colors are also green, red and yellow in honor of Wells’ time machine. At a glance, it seems like a fun nod to another classic tale about time travel, but the trilogy’s overarching story shows a deeper connection to the car and its creator, Doc Brown.
How Does This Detail Expand Back to the Future?
Back to the Future‘s story is about Marty McFly and how his time-traveling escapades have affected his past, present and future. While he’s the main protagonist, the heart of the trilogy lies with Doc Brown and his desire to chart the uncharted. What makes the Time Machine Easter egg so interesting is that it further proves Doc’s status as the heart of the series. In Back to the Future Part III, Doc explains to his love, Clara, that he was always obsessed with the works of science-fiction writers, Jules Verne especially. In fact, Verne served as an inspiration for his inventive career, as did Wells.
By honoring The Time Machine, it proves that Doc’s love of science fiction fueled his desire to turn fiction into reality. If Doc Brown represents the drive of Jules Verne, then Wells was served by the creation of his own time machine. Furthermore, the lights on the time circuit show that Doc has never forgotten where he came from, and no matter how old he is, he’ll always be a kid at heart. It also shows that the designers did their best to honor the past by forming a new future with a classic series.