Five years ago, Netflix did a short video about my Back to the Future Trilogy chiasmus article. I was thrilled to see it, of course, but I wished that it had included more information about the connections found in the article. As it was, it made my observations come across as superficial and not very detail-oriented.
Last week, one of my sons asked if we could watch the Netflix video about my article, and I was happy to oblige him. I searched for “Back to the Future chiasmus” on YouTube, and I found something I didn’t expect to find. It looked like someone else had used my terminology of “Cinematic Chiasmus,” and I was delighted to find that they were directly referencing my article! Thankfully, that someone took up the torch and made the detailed video that I had wanted the Netflix one to be! A YouTuber named Woven Realities made a video entitled “CINEMATIC CHIASMUS: The Back to the Future Trilogy is Symmetrical!” in February 2021, and it’s quite amazing that I found it at all.
What intrigued me most about this video is that it deviates from what I wrote and adds even more details that I hadn’t expounded upon. I’ll explain all of the differences I noticed as I watched the video unfold, and I’ll share the deep implications of a truly significant change she made near the conclusion of her video, so be sure to read to the end.
She compares the presence of clocks in the opening scene to the picture of Marty and Doc standing in front of the Clock Tower clock in the final scene. That’s a brilliant touch.
In the first film, Marty worries about the future and receives a flyer about the lightning strike in the past. In the third film, Jennifer sees Marty’s negative future erased when she pulls out the piece of paper from the future. As you’ll see later, I had a real problem with thinking fourth-dimensionally when it comes to photographs and papers.
I did mention that Marty’s family is happy and healthy in the third film, but I hadn’t explicitly stated that they were miserable in the first one. I like that addition.
I enjoyed the contrast between the dramatic introduction of the DeLorean and its slow grinding to a halt at the end of its life.
I appreciate her clarification that it’s Doc who threatens to shoot the train conductor in the third film after getting shot by a Libyan terrorist in the first film. It’s also a clever addition to mention that Marty is escaping danger in the first film and participating in a rescue in the third film.
She makes a brilliant observation about the contrast between Doc and Marty’s receptions at the saloon and café, respectively.
She mentions that Marty gets knocked out by a car and Doc gets knocked out by a single drink of whiskey. This adds credence to the idea of them switching places in the third film from the first.
I never mentioned the changing photographs when discussing Doc’s worries about his and Marty’s changes to history.
She did a better job than me at handling the scenes involving Lorraine falling more in love with Marty and Clara falling in love with Doc. I had said they are out of order, but she just treats them as one extended scene.
Marty tells George his plan to restore the timeline by helping him fall in love with Lorraine, while Doc tells Marty his plan to break the current timeline by never falling in love with Clara. That was a smart parallel I had failed to mention.
It’s a small thing, but I’m glad to see she mentions that in the first film Doc reveals how he survived the terrorist’s bullets, while in the third film Doc discovers how he was killed from his own gravestone.
After being driven home, Marty and Doc wake up and at first they believe that what they just experienced was all a dream. That is until they are confronted by irrefutable proof that it was real. That’s another great connection I failed to make.
I really didn’t make use of the changing newspaper headlines like I could have. She mentions the headline about Marty’s son getting arrested and the one about his father being honored at the start and end, respectively, of Back to the Future Part II.
For the scene where Old Biff steals the DeLorean in 2015 and then fades away, she compares it to the moment when Marty steals the Sports Almanac back from Young Biff in 1955. That changes the rest of the chiasmus, creating some interesting insights I hadn’t considered.
Instead of comparing the scenes of Marty getting kicked out of his house, she matches up the two Strickland scenes where Marty almost gets shot by his old principal in the alternate 1985 and hides under his desk in 1955.
Marty sees the destruction a rich Biff has wrought on Hill Valley and Lorraine in the alternate 1985, while in 1955 Young Biff accosts Lorraine and she says she wouldn’t marry him even if he had a million dollars.
Marty and Doc leave the alternate 1985 and go to 1955 to repair the damage. That’s a great way to cap off the chiasmus because it’s all about time travel, and a chiasmus is a sort of time travel in a way because the beginning and end are intertwined.
It’s really great that Woven Realities completely deviated from the matchups I made at the center of the chiasmus (starting at scene 25), but they still work perfectly. I think her changes are an improvement on my original article, which is the best compliment I can give to her. It’s not just a video version of my article, but it’s its own beast, adding something new that I hadn’t thought of. That’s so awesome!
And the best part? The deviation takes place at the moment when Biff steals the DeLorean and creates an alternate timeline. So it’s like she pulled a similar trick and created a new version of the Back to the Future Trilogy chiasmus. However, this one isn’t some dark variant but a really bright and cool one! Hats off to you, Ms. Realities. Your video is so amazing that it gave me, the one who inspired it, something innovative to think about!
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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