Today is the day Marty and Doc travel to in the blockbuster film Back to the Future Two. Emma Toolan analyses 1989’s vision of the future.
Today is 21st October 2015. Why is that important, you ask? Well, today is the day that Marty McFly along with Doc and his girlfriend Jennifer travelled to from 1985 in Back to the Future 2. Back in 1989 when the film was made, the 21st of October 2015 was twenty-six years in the future. Predictions had to be made on what the world of the future would be like. It’s time now to see how Back to the Future 2 fared in terms of predicting how life in 2015 would be. Side note: if you have not seen this movie, this article will probably ruin it for you.
It is 4.29pm when Marty and co. arrive in 2015 Hilldale. The first thing that strikes us is that they are travelling in a flying car. Most cars are capable of hovering through the sky. In one of the most iconic lines in film, Doc says at the end of Back to the Future 1, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Freeways, comparable to Irish motorways, are in the sky, so it would be essential to have a hovering car in order to use them. It seems that in the 1980s there were high hopes for the future of car technology. Car companies like Audi and BMW are advancing in self-driving and parking cars but as for hovering, we have a long way to go.
The weather service has also excelled immensely in the movie’s 2015. It is raining as Doc is parking the car. He tells Marty to wait five seconds before getting out. The rain stops after these five seconds, and Doc then comments how the weather service has really advanced since the 80s. This is not the case in the real life Met Éireann of 2015, but it would be nice in eternally rainy Ireland to know the second we can go outside again in bad weather. We can always dream.
The weather is not the only efficient aspect of daily life. The justice system has also become super efficient. Marty is travelling to the future in order to stop his future son from committing a crime which results in his imprisonment. Doc shows him a newspaper from the 22nd of October which reports how Marty’s son is tried, convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison in two hours. The reason for this: lawyers have been abolished. Again this is not a reality for our 2015, lawyers still very much exist and it takes a lot longer than two hours for a trial to be seen through, but perhaps 1989 had the right idea.
Doc admits that he recently visited a ‘rejuvenation clinic.’ Here he had his blood changed, his hair repaired, wrinkles removed and he also received a new colon and spleen. Clinics such as this have not come to the fore as we know. The idea that one can leisurely stroll into said clinic and leave with a new colon and spleen is laughable. However, it does correspond with the 2015 of today where a huge part of popular culture is focused on one’s image and the rise of plastic surgery.
Now for the part that everyone remembers: the hover board! Essentially a skateboard minus the wheels, and plus the whole hovering part. Again, as with the cars, hovering around is just not the done thing nowadays, but perhaps an invention of our 2015 that we can compare to the hover board is the Swegway. Definitely not as cool as a hoverboard, it’s a self-balanced board with wheels, essentially a Segway with the handle chopped off, but we’ll just have to make do. Just as long as you don’t live in the UK, as unfortunately they’re banned in public spaces there.
More tech predictions come to the fore through film. Jaws 19 in 3D is in cinemas. They were spot on here with the 3D cinema, but not so much with Jaws 19.
Doc is seen towards the start of the movie using a high-tech digital camera to take a photograph of Marty’s son. This leads us to the huge prediction which the movie did not foresee for 2015, and this is the smartphone. Most phones nowadays have fairly decent cameras, and instead of reaching for your digital camera, most people reach for their phone.
As we move away from the town to Marty’s future house, we see there are no door handles, but that a person’s thumbprint is required to enter. A thumbprint can also be used to make purchases. Fingerprint technology is becoming bigger in the reality of today, such as when we use our thumbs to unlock iPhones.
Some more accurate predictions in the house include the huge flatscreen television Marty has and also when he video calls his coworker. The continued use of the fax machine however is completely inaccurate; fax machines have most definitely died a death, but we can see the high expectations surrounding the fax machine as a piece of relatively new technology in 1989. Some more inaccurate predictions include the floating electronic leash which walks dogs by itself (how lazy would you have to be to buy one of those things?) and also the dehydrated food which must be placed in a re-hydrating machine to consume.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining examples of a prediction gone wrong is the fashion. The Doc presents Marty with some clothes so he will blend in. They consist of a Nike self-adjusting and self-drying jacket along with shoes complete with self-tying ‘power laces.’ Unfortunately, these items are not worn in the 2015 of reality. Rumour has it Nike are developing self-tying shoes, but they have yet to be unveiled.
The 2015 that Back to the Future Two predicted differs greatly to the 2015 in which we actually live. In the short space of 26 years the movie predicted 2015 to be a future where we see hovering cars and boards, along with self-drying garments and the abolition of lawyers. These predictions seem far-fetched now and we haven’t progressed as far as perhaps was expected, but they did manage to make some accurate predictions along the way such as huge televisions, video calling and our continued obsession with looking young. All in all a good attempt; but unfortunately, we are still very much in need of roads.