Brow Beat

How Back to the Future Made Its Clock Tower Climax Scene So Electrifying

Back to the Future has become one of film’s most beloved franchises, but getting it made was no easy feat. A new Art of the Scene video from Cinefix points out that major studios all initially turned it down because it wasn’t a sexy enough romp. Disney didn’t like the part where McFly’s mom develops a crush on him.  

But the finished product is clearly a classic, and one with a remarkable climax, as Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown race against the clock—literally—to harness 1.21 gigawatts of power from lightning to jumpstart Brown’s DeLorean and get McFly out of the 1950s and back … well, you know. The climactic scene, like the rest of the movie, barely uses any visual effects. Instead, practical effects and careful directing keep the intensity high and move the sequence forward. Even the lightning wasn’t CGI: It was actually achieved through hand animated rotoscoping.