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Posted at 11:37 AM ET, 07/ 6/2010

'Back to the Future': paying proper tribute to the flux capacitor

By Jen Chaney

Over the holiday weekend, lots of people gave online shout-outs to "Back to the Future," the Michael J. Fox time travel adventure that became the top-grossing movie of 1985. The only problem? Many of them were honoring the 88 mile-per-hour blockbuster for the wrong reason.

The whole mess started when the movie Web site Total Film Tweeted from their account that July 5 was "Future Day," a date allegedly significant to Marty McFly aficionados because Doc Brown sets the time circuits in the plutonium-powered DeLorean to go there. The Tweet got re-Tweeted. Everyone from Elizabeth Banks to Colin Hanks got excited. "Back to the Future" started to trend on Twitter and Google. And then the whole episode came crashing down like George McFly's initial attempts to hit on Lorraine. Because the thing is: that date never gets entered into the time circuits.

The Total Film staffers -- who now admit they never verified their July 5th contention -- realized their error. Then, as a joke, they posted a Photoshopped picture that "proved" July 5, 2010 really does appear on that DeLorean dashboard. And that only set off more online chatter, including some truth squadding via poor quality videos on YouTube.

Bottom line: July 5, 2010 is not a significant date in "Back to the Future" lore. October 21, 2015 is because that's where Marty and Doc head in "Back to the Future Part II." But frankly, I am ignoring that information because "BTTF" begins and ends for me with the first film in the trilogy. My apologies to Elisabeth Shue.

Given all this recent commotion, it's important to note that one date over this past weekend actually was legitimately significant to the Enchantment Under the Sea crowd: July 3, 2010, the day that marked the 25th anniversary of the film's release.

So let's pay fitting, proper tribute to the movie that taught us we can indeed change the past (and, therefore, the future); that if you run into your mother in the 1950s, it's entirely possible she'll find you attractive; that the power of love is, indeed, a curious thing; that a ski vest could easily be mistaken for a life preserver in 1955; and that a lightning bolt is capable of providing the 1.21 gigawatts needed to jump-start a flux capacitor.

Watching "Back to the Future" now is sort of a double time travel experience. We get to revisit 1955, as well as1985, a time when we still feared Libyans and drank Pepsi Free. So break out your DVD copy of "Back to the Future" and flashback to a pair of simpler eras, when no one had Photoshop and Twitter. Reflect on the wise words of McFlys both Marty and George: if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything ... even if that anything involves accidentally causing a mini-Internet sensation based on false information.

And above all else: save the clock tower.

By Jen Chaney  | July 6, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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How many gigawatts does it take for the flux capacitor to get my DVD out of my 8-Track player?

Posted by: reddragon1 | July 6, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Aw cripes. That movie is 25 years old??? Thanks for making me feel so bleeping old, Jen!

Posted by: cookgirl1 | July 6, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Flux capacitor? Harrumph.

I'll take an old fashioned interositor any day.

Posted by: bmschumacher | July 6, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the computer HAL says when/where he was born. It was at MIT on 1/12/92.
I was living in Boston at that time and enjoyed reading about the big birthday bash that MIT put on for HAL.

Posted by: JLRGG | July 6, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm still waiting on my flying car fueled by Mr. Fusion.

Posted by: JLRGG | July 6, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Michael J. Fox wasn't wearing a ski vest, but a down vest.

Posted by: bs2004 | July 6, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

You know, they stole the flux capacitor from me!

Posted by: elias_howe | July 6, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this theft (of my flux capacitor) was that it occurred on March 1, 1932 in New Jersey. The police seemed to be occupied with some other case and my case was never solved!

Posted by: elias_howe | July 6, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Four simple words: You are my density . . .

Posted by: tomd3 | July 6, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Happy 181st Birthday this coming Friday, Elias! Good to have you resurrected from (wherever).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 6, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Yea, 181 years. I credit my long life to the "Way Back" machine. Which Mr. Peabody is still paying royalties to me for its use. Can't find a more honest man than that Mr. Peabody.

My for my next invention, how to get 181 candles on a cake and successfully blow them out!

Posted by: elias_howe | July 6, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Oops, it's 191st! But really, my dear, you don't LOOK a day past 181.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 6, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

The Flemington Flux Capacitor Caper?!? That was you?

I heard it was stolen at the behest of a local crime boss who mistook flux capacitor for the name of a Sicilian rival, Felix Capacitore. But I can't vouch for that.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | July 6, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse


You have been "out of time" for quite awhile.

Where were you in the past? That "Way Back Machine" is a marvel, that's for sure.

Perhaps you could develop an appliance that fits on the head of the Birthday Boy/Girl that is calibrated to blow-out up to 200 candles at a whoosh. (It should probably have some sort of fire supressant built in, too.)

Your friend,


Posted by: bmschumacher | July 6, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Mudge and Elias, this week I'd be more interested if the birthday chapeau could hold up to 200 ice cubes!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 6, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes - the Ice Hat.

We make them with the left over pieces from that Ice Hotel (the thing they build in one of those cold, wintery European places).

Posted by: bmschumacher | July 6, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes - the Ice Hat.

We make them with the left over pieces from that Ice Hotel (the thing they build in one of those cold, wintery, European places).

They're still some available (in whole sizes only).

Posted by: bmschumacher | July 6, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

ah, Nosy, what's a decade between friends?

Now to work on that ice "boater"

Posted by: elias_howe | July 6, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Ice Hat? Be real careful how you pronounce that first vowel.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 6, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

That Elias.

He was always such a slave to fashion.

Calling it an ice "boater" is probably a whole lot safer.

Yours in close calls,


PS: Reverend Jim is one of my favorite sitcom characters (FWIW, I also like Eddie Haskell).

Posted by: bmschumacher | July 6, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Must be the heat making everyone a bit tetchy this afternoon, because there's a bit of a BKD over at:

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | July 6, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Send LiLo up the river, I say!

She allegedly broke parole once too often.

So there,


Posted by: bmschumacher | July 6, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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