Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk (book review).

In many respects, ‘Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History’ by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk has the same feel as the Vault books, mostly because it has extras scattered throughout the book. There’s even a lenticular (I would call it a 3D effect moving myself) postcard showing the McFly family disappearing and a note from Marty to Doc Brown warning him about a danger in 1985. This isn’t the torn up copy stuck back together.


It is some thirty years since the first ‘Back To The Future’ film was released and production publicist for the second and third films, Micharel Klastorin has been trying to get publishers periodically interested in an anniversary book ever since. When Insight Editions gave him the go-ahead, he had Randal Atamaniuk help him reach his deadline and with co-operation of co-writers producer Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis, original crew and cast assembled photographs and interviews to make this beautiful looking book. The Titan Books edition is for us in the UK so you won’t have to import the US edition.


As with all books like this, we start off with how Gale and Zemeckis got started and how ‘Back To The Future’ evolved over the drafts and how no studio wanted to touch it. Seeing how the first drafts are I can see their reservations and it was only after the success of ‘Romancing The Stone’ that Zemeckis got a green light to go ahead but with certain changes, the final one where the power source for the DeLorean in the past coming at a late stage. The one suggestion Universal Studios President Sid Sheinberg asked was to rename the film ‘Space Man From Pluto’, from the comicbook when Marty arrived in the past, was thankfully put down by Steven Spielberg and ignored. Sheinberg didn’t understand the original title but his suggestion made even less sense for a time travel story.


Seeing the designs for the DeLorean modifications is quite an eye-opener and discovering that the instrumentation was by Michael Scheffe who fitted a certain KITT for ‘Knight Rider’ makes an interesting connection for quizzes.


For those who remember, they couldn’t get Michael J. Fox originally for Marty and out of the alternative choices chose Eric Stoltz. Seeing the descriptions of how much ‘method acting’ he applied, I can see the strains through the production and can see why he was dropped even before the chemistry on sample screenings was realised that it wasn’t working. Something that did occur to me from some of his actions was why some actors like to use their own Christian name for their role it makes identification to the role harder to change. The fact that Stoltz wanted to be called ‘Marty’ off-set had Chris Lloyd convinced that this was also Stoltz’ real name as well. Actor Crispin Glover’s activities also seems questionable from time to time as well and I wasn’t that surprised that his demands took him out of the two sequels, downplaying the role for his replacement, actor Jeffrey Weissman.

2191_Peepshow, bonds in BG_REV

Interestingly and something I always have to remind myself, the nicest people play the villainous parts and actor Tom Wilson as Biff Tannen created all the ad-libs for his part and was well-liked. Indeed, when Michael J. Fox arrived, the descriptions of what he did to meet all the crew no doubt quickly endeared them to him and made the filming a lot easier, despite the fact that he was splitting schedules with the film and the TV series, ‘Family Ties’, he was also in and certainly no slacker.

This book gives plenty of evidence for the art of filming and what places had the stuntpeople take over that I suspect after reading this book, will make you watch again, like I did. The opening sequence with Marty at Doc Brown’s house was a late addition to the film but blends in so seamlessly that you would have thought it was in the original draft. Saying that, I’m glad that using a nuclear bomb’s energy in the past was nixed. Imagine trying to do that three times!

doc brown the last 1880s btf3_REV

Although not all of the secrets are given for the hoverboard from the second film, it is fascinating seeing some of the techniques and wire removal in frame in those days was a lot more time consuming than it is digitally today. Something I didn’t know was for one scene, it was Industrial, Light And Magic’s first ever CGI digital shot to change a detail to hide things. Looking at the associate stills, it looks more like they used it to hide details in shadow but does re-enforce its use for subtly than blatant examples since it was brought into use.

If I have to be critical, then I would say not having a full list of credits for cast and crew at the back of the book would probably be it but I imagine that would have taken several pages and I doubt if few would read it.

This is an absolutely beautiful book that if you haven’t started to re-watch the original films by the end, then you will certainly want to afterwards. As Zemeckis and Gale point out, their trilogy was the last of the light-hearted time travel films. From then on, things got really dark for the future. The fact that ‘Back To The Future’ has a thirty year old legacy that got pulled up on the world’s press this month should be an indicator as to why you should want to own this book and why the stories have lasted so long. Don’t forget to set your watch settings and watch out for any flying DeLoreans.

GF Willmetts

October 2015

(pub: Titan Books. 222 page illustrated with extras large hardback. Price: £35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78329-970-6)

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