Back to the Future & The Future on Film in 6 Degrees

Backto future 2015

October 2015 will be the 30th anniversary of the premiere of  Back to the Future. Some of the films portrayals of a future world have been remarkably accurate. Other things were missed, but that’s the nature of predictions. Here are a few of the major things the film got right (and a few things missed):

 

 Nike Self-tying shoes: The shoes they came up with look remarkably like the type that Nike sells.
  Hoverboards: The technology is there for a few elites, but not for the general public.
 Drones & Robot Technology: The drones were imagined with uncanny accuracy.
  Biometric Scanners-for eyes/Fingerprint ID’s: This is current state of the art technology
 Google glass specs: Although they aren’t flying off the shelves, we do have Google glasses
  Flying cars: Nope. Not yet.
  TV Screens and video chats: Predated Skype and FaceTime with their imagined version.
  No Internet! Probably the biggest omission is the scope of the internet and how much it affects our daily lives
Back to the Future will be screened as part of Tampa Theatre's Summer FIlm Series this Sunday at 3:00 pm at Tampa Theatre.

Star wars logo

 

In the beginning, there was George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon in 1902. By 1939, The Wizard of Oz came along. But there were no real “cutting-edge” special effects on film for the first fifty years or so. Until Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968 and gave audiences a glimpse into just what the filmmaker can do with a superior imagination and a large budget.

From Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still, to Star Wars and Jurassic Park, futurist sci-fi has advanced technologically to the point where the Special Effects completely dominate the action and the plot. Star Wars, released in 1977, was the game changer, in terms of special effects and the way the future was portrayed on film. Audiences were no longer satisfied with a flying car held up by string or a giant enlarged lizard. They wanted to see and to experience something extraordinary. And George Lucas and his Industrial Light & Magic studios delivered. They were the game changers in charge of the newly minted Cinematic Universe of the 21st Century.

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) became so adept that the end result made one of the principal managers say, “The only thing that limits films these days are the budget and the scope of the director’s imagination. “We’re helping directors previsualize their films. Our designs are becoming more specific to the actual look of the film.”

One veteran from Industrial Light & Magic speculated of a future where film becomes an interactive experience, enabling participants…”to explore virtual worlds or even inhabit the form of computer graphics characters, controlling the action with a joystick. Players from all points on the planet could be linked through TV screens, computer modems, or game pods in arcade settings.”
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When asked if films will become obsolete, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Dennis Muran said: “Eventually…..theaters will be able to use an electronic or laser-light projection system, which is not a new thing; it’s been around for a long time. The hard part will be getting the thousands of movie theaters around the country to upgrade and install a new $200,000 projection system

And the man with the vision, George Lucas, who created the Cinematic Universe we now live in, said this about futuristic film :

“I see true environments being created and combined with a lot of biotech things going on, in terms of manipulating people’s sense through drugs. This combination will have the most powerful effect on the kind of storytelling we’re doing today. It’s too far off for me to worry about, and I’m no interested in virtual reality at its current level, because it’s just too crude. But if you can program virtual reality or simulator rides with biotech, you will have a very interesting non-world. The first step would be to take the simulator ride part of the environment…where you can just implant the story in a pill and live it.
That’s not outside the realm of possibility. You’d take the pill and go to sleep. It’d be like a dream and you’d have an actual, real, physical experience of something completely imaginary. What that’ll mean for society, I have no idea, and how you’d get there from here is way beyond me, but I know enough to know it’s within the realm of possibility. Because they’re already going there, creating images without actually making them, just as you create them in a dream.”

This experience would not be standard movie theater fare as we have come to know it. It would be a reality far removed from our own near future world. As long as humans aspire to dream and to create, we will be interested in watching movies in whatever form that might be.

Excerpt from 6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village-ML Johnson 2013

Published by

MLJ

Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Degrees-Film-Future-Global-Village/

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