Back to the Future (1987) starring Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly), Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown), Lea Thompson (Lorraine Baines), and Crispin Glover (George McFly). Written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
ANH is a story about the Rebel Alliance fighting against the Empire of Lord Palpatine. It really is a coming of age story, not just about the Rebels. Luke Skywalker wants to leave his home and join his friends. But things go awry when his Uncle Owen buys two droids from the Jawas. Luke chases down R2D2 and encounters the Tusken Raiders (a.k.a. Sand People). He is rescued by Ben Kenobi. After the brutal murder of Luke’s aunt and uncle by Stormtroopers, Ben whisks him, and the droids, off to find the Alliance and Princess Leia. A lightsaber duel, a battle or two later and we get to the final bits, the destruction of the Death Star and the medal ceremony.
BTTF is time travel! Yay! How much more sci-fi can you get? Doc Brown uses a Delorean to put his flux capacitor in. He is hunted down and shot by terrorists (he stole their plutonium which is the only thing that can power the flux capacitor and allow the Delorean to time travel). Marty was still in the car and to save himself he traveled back to 1955, the day Doc Brown first thought of the flux capacitor. Marty accidentally meets his parents and puts his own life in peril. His mother falls for him instead of his father. She pursues him as Marty tries to give his father the courage to stand up to the bully Biff and ask Marty’s mother Lorraine to the enchantment under the sea dance where they seal Marty’s future with a kiss.
Common elements in ANH that are found in science fiction: space (the final frontier!), futuristic (even though it is set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), starships, and the Force. While the Force is not science-y it’s mystic and mystic powers have been creeping into science fiction in the last few years.
Common elements in BTTF that are found in science fiction: time travel and technology. Or rather advanced technology. Just because a flux capacitor is theoretical (and highly improbable for Doc Brown’s purpose) doesn’t mean we can’t consider it advanced technology.
Both films are coming of age stories. The wonderful thing about them is the coming of age happens over the course of three films rather than one. We see the change in Luke from impatient teen to the only Jedi Master in the galaxy. Marty, the change isn’t so drastic. He goes from being a hothead that would stand and fight just because someone calls him “chicken” to using his head and not taking the insult to heart. This is where the similarities end. The differences are huge! BTTF and ANH have completely different settings. BTTF is set here on earth in a more present time, 1987. ANH is in an undetermined time period and an unknown galaxy. One is time travel and one is an epic space opera. Both have vastly different genre elements