‘Back to the Future’ tattoo portraits

Time traveler tattoos

‘Back to the Future’ was the film trilogy that marked the economic boom and great success of the Eighties. And a cult for tattoo lovers too.

When they started planning a film in early 1984 that had as its main plot the theme of travelling in time (forwards, backwards between present and past) many Hollywood producers pricked up their ears immediately. Ever since the days of H.G. Wells’ ‘Time Machine’ (1895) and up to Michael Crichton’s ‘Timeline’ (1999), the idea has always been an extremely fascinating and tempting one.

Back to the future tattoo by Gabri Pais, Gabri Pais Tattoo, Cagliari, Italy
Back to the future tattoo by Gabri Pais, Gabri Pais Tattoo, Cagliari, Italy

Finally the rights to the screenplay, written by the new-comer Robert Zemeckis (who was later to receive an Oscar in 1994 for ‘Forrest Gump’) went to two big names in the industry: Bob Gale, the untouchable cartoon genius in America (much collaboration with Marvel and DC Comics) and a certain Steven Spielberg, who needs no further introduction. The director of ‘E.T.’ had the first winning idea for the project which was to discard the idea of using a refrigerator as a time-capsule (“We were concerned that kids, infatuated by the film, might decide to try this at home and end up locking themselves inside!”). Instead he used a stylish DeLorean car which at 88 miles per hour can reach 1.21 gigawatts of power, a prerequisite for, dare we say it, “travel”.

Another decisive hit was the choice of actor for the main part of the unfortunate student Marty McFly. Zemeckis intervened here with his usual inspiration: Eric Stoltz had been rejected (he did 6 weeks of filming and some takes of him shot from behind actually appear in the film), so Robert went for the young and very talented Michael J. Fox, who was only 23 years old at the time with two movies under his belt: ‘Midnight Madness’ in 1980 and ‘Class of 1984’ in 1982. The general public didn’t know much about this actor but it was the turning point for him.

With a perfect script which combined 1980’s stereotypes (the look, the skateboarding craze, the hair-metal cult etc.) time-travel paradoxes, Fifties nostalgia, overwhelming sympathy (the misadventure where he came up against the ‘bad’ Biff Tannen played by an excellent Thomas F. Wilson) and a fairly conventional moral (fate cannot play a part in our lives if we decide to fight against it..), ‘Back To The Future’ became a box-office hit in no time, it won an Oscar in ’86 (best sound editing) and was the subject of two sequels (the even more hectic ‘Back To The Future – Part II’ released in 1989 and ‘Back To The Future – Part III’ in 1990).

Back to the future tattoo by Alex Rattray, Red Hot And Blue Tattoo, Edinburgh, UK
Back to the future tattoo by Alex Rattray, Red Hot And Blue Tattoo, Edinburgh, UK

Our last few lines are dedicated to three other important names in the saga: the side-kick Christopher Lloyd who plays the part of “Doc” Emmett L. Brown (“Great Scott!”), the actress Claudia Wells (who played Jennifer, McFly’s girlfriend, who retired soon after from the stage to spend time with her sick mother) and the musician Huey Lewis from the popular group Huey Lewis & The News. If ‘Back to the Future’ was a film like no other, we owe this to ‘The Power Of Love’ which features in the various opening sequences. It came first in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1985 and millions of copies were sold world-wide.

Back to the future tattoo by Michele Spallacci, Astro Zombie Tattoo Studio, Città Di Castello, Italy
Back to the future tattoo by Michele Spallacci, Astro Zombie Tattoo Studio, Città Di Castello, Italy
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