Back to the Future Part III

Question: Back in 1885 why doesn't Doc change the letter he sent to Marty, asking him to bring a can of gas?

Answer: When Marty received the letter from Doc in 1955, as seen in the second movie, Doc wrote down that he didn't want Marty to go to 1885 to rescue him because he was happy living in the past. Instead, he wanted Marty to take the Delorean straight back to 1985 and then destroy it so it could never be used for personal gain again.

But once Marty appears in the past Doc could easily change the letter, changing things such that Marty would bring gas with him.

That wouldn't really work with Marty already there. Since Marty and Doc are occupying the same timeline, changing the letter wouldn't do anything until Marty traveled back into the future, at which point the altered letter would be unnecessary since they had found a way for Marty to return.

Phaneron Premium member

Changing the letter wouldn't have made a difference. When Doc decides to leave 1885, Marty tells Doc that he ripped the fuel line so, with the fuel line damaged and no gas available, bringing a can of gas wouldn't have helped.

Answer: This would create a different timeline, not the timeline they are in.

Answer: That would not be possible as in 1885, Doc sent the letter on September 1st, and 1955 Doc sent Marty to 1885 on September 2nd so it was a day later and on the 1st, Doc was not expecting Marty to turn up. However, one CAN ask why Marty and Doc didn't go to the local Western Union office and change it (or write a new one) there since it was in their possession per the gentleman in part 2.

Changing the letter while Marty is in 1885 with Doc would accomplish nothing, because it doesn't it instantly travel to the future. Marty at the end of Part II, for his part, may receive the letter almost immediately, but the letter itself had to wait 70 years to be delivered to him.

Phaneron Premium member

I mean, there's no solid rules to time traveling, but just for argument's sake it seems like the letter idea could work... in the franchise, when something is set in motion, the effects usually take place immediately. Take for instance when George and Lorraine kissed at the dance in Part 1. The picture of Marty and his siblings went right back to normal, even though the kids had not been born yet. Doc and Marty changing the Western Union letter "could" have had an immediate effect and a gas can could have materialized in the Delorean, much like we've seen newspaper headlines change before our very eyes, disappearing gravestones, etc.

jshy7979

In your examples, the changes occur to future events. The items that changes, like the picture and newspaper, are from the future themselves. They can't change the past by changing events in the future (like they do in Bill and Ted's). This is why Doc and Marty couldn't go back to 2015 to stop old Biff from taking the DeLorean.

Bishop73

Question: At the end of the film, which Clint Eastwood is Dave McFly referring to when he tells Marty "Who are you supposed to be, Clint Eastwood? Was he referring to the real Clint Eastwood or to 1885 Clint Eastwood? (Marty's alias in 1885).

Answer: Since Marty is dressed the same way Clint's character in the spaghetti westerrns was, I pretty sure he was referring to the real Clint Eastwood.

Gavin Jackson

Answer: The joke is that Marty as Clint Eastwood has become a historical figure, known probably only in their town. His clothes are probably most remembered, so Dave thinks he is impersonating him.

lionhead

Question: If Doc doesn't have a gravestone in the end, how is Marty from the beginning of the movie aware that he must go save his friend in 1885 instead of jumping straight to 1985?

Answer: The BTTF universe establishes time and again that time travel does not change the existing timeline, but rather creates alternate timelines. So even if Marty changes the past, it creates a new timeline independent of the one he left. So he can erase the gravestone that led him to 1885 without causing a paradox.

Answer: Even if the other answer is true, he wouldn't have needed to know that his friend died to go back and get him. Before you say Doc wouldn't have wanted to go back because he had settled in 1885, he only settled because he found that he couldn't fix the Delorean.

Question: Why does Doc send Marty back to September 2nd? Doc gets shot on the 7th, so this is a very short timetable to work with.

Answer: The letter that Marty received in 1955 was dated September 1st, 1885; sending Marty back any earlier than that date could potentially cause a time paradox, which was something Doc took great care to avoid throughout the majority of the film trilogy.

zendaddy621

Answer: No one expected that the DeLorean's fuel tank would end up becoming damaged. If it weren't for that, Doc and Marty would had been able to return back to 1985 immediately.

Rassdyt

Question: In 1955 when Doc and Marty are in the outdoor cinema and Marty is accelerating to 88mph to jump back in time to 1885, doc shouts something to him in celebration as Marty Drives past him, he also fires his gun in the air... Do you know what he shouts? The subtitles just say "shouts something in Spanish" but id love to know what he said and what it means?

TDFarthing

Chosen answer: "Vaya con dios!", Spanish for "Go with God".

Sierra1 Premium member

Answer: The subtitles are wrong! I always heard him shout "to the ends of the Earth " A reference to Jules Verne (keeping that theme running all through the third movie) and to Marty's adventures. Not only is this what I've heard every time I've watched this film, but it makes much more sense.

This is incorrect. He does in fact yell "Vaya con dios." The scene is available on Youtube and he can be seen and heard saying it at the 2:47 mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV9udBGZio4.

Question: I don't know if this is true or just an urban legend, but did Michael Jackson body double (from the waist down) for the moonwalk/dance moves that Marty did during the scene where Mad Dog Tannen shot at his feet?

Answer: There appears to be purely an urban legend. While the repeated use of lower-body shots does suggest that Michael J Fox didn't perform the moves himself, there's no evidence that indicates that it was Jackson himself who stepped in. In the end, the moonwalk is not actually a particularly complicated dance move; if Fox didn't do it himself, it would not have been difficult for the production to locate somebody with a matching build who could do the steps.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: Doc Brown shows up at the end of part three with his wife Clara, his two boys, and a time-traveling, hovercraft-converted train. How did he build it? There was nothing in 1885 that could even begin to help him build another time-machine! And don't tell me that he used Marty's 'hoverboard' as parts, because that doesn't wash.

CCARNI Premium member

Chosen answer: Time machines don't actually exist, so who are we to say whether or not the parts to build another time machine are available? Doc Brown is an inventor. Doc had the knowledge of how to build a time machine having built the original machine into a DeLorean, Doc also appears to have had a few years to come up with a way of building a time machine into a train, given that he now has children who appear to be around 5 years old. Plus, remember that the fridge in Doc's shop was much bigger than a modern fridge, and a steam train is way bigger than a DeLorean.

Blair Howden

Answer: Doc's consistent problem was finding high-energy power sources for his inventions. But, actually, materials and technology did exist in the late 19th Century to construct extremely high-energy components. If Doc Brown had contacted electrical geniuses of the day (such as Nikola Tesla, who was already working in high-energy physics, radio and and X-ray technology in the 1890s), he could have certainly acquired the materials to reconstruct the Flux Capacitor and back-engineer hover pads for his time-travelling locomotive. As we saw earlier in the film, he was quite capable of back-engineering 1980s electronics using 1950s components (when he repaired the DeLorean).

Charles Austin Miller

Question: Why does everyone say that using parts of the DeLorean that Doc had buried in the abandoned mine could create a time paradox? Firstly, that is never stated in the actual movie. Secondly, if say Marty and Doc use the part on the buried DeLorean to fix the DeLorean that broke due to the explosion caused by the extremely strong alcohol and then again try to run the DeLorean using alcohol that's not so strong, the 1955 Doc would be able to obtain the missing piece of the buried DeLorean. So, technically, there's a plot hole. Why then does everyone say that that's not possible?

Answer: If they dug up the buried DeLorean and stripped it for parts to repair the other one, then it would become non-functional. As such, with no replacement parts being available in 1955, Marty would not then be able to use it to come back in time to rescue Doc - which he's already done. There's your paradox.

Tailkinker Premium member

Answer: But it's not a paradox is it. They blew the fuel injection manifold which Doc says would take him a month to rebuild, that's using 1885 technology and parts. Simply swap out the manifold off the buried car, put the broken one on the seat, and 1955 Doc would inspect it and figure out that it needs repairing (which would take far less time using 1955 technology and parts). They could also go to Western Union and change the letter to read that the fuel injection manifold needs a repair as well. If they stole the DeLorean' engine then yes they'd be a paradox as the very earliest replacement wouldn't be available until 1974. But stealing parts that would be available in 1955 would not cause any paradox as they could simply replace them.

Question: After the pie tin toss, why does Tannen call Marty Mr. Parsley after he say "mighty strong words, runt"?

Answer: You misheard the line: Buford Tannen says "You man enough to back 'em up with more than just a pie plate?" - "just a pie plate", not "Mr Parsley".

Sierra1 Premium member

Question: When they discover they have no gasoline for the DeLorean, they go through all sorts of trouble to get it up to 88mph. Now it's obvious things fade away and into existence in this movie, as it did with the newspapers and matchbook. Wouldn't it have made more sense to go to the mine where the time machine was buried and write on the wood, "Bring can of gas"? Wouldn't a can of gas then materialize in the trunk of the DeLorean and they could go home?

Carl Missouri

Chosen answer: There's already been enough meddling with the timeline without deliberately resorting to that sort of thing. If they can get the car up to speed with the stuff they've got available to them in that time period, it's the safest option to take.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: Why did Clara go mental at Doc for saying he was from the future? He'd dropped a few hints! He'd told her he has an interest in science, he had a huge refrigerator in his building, he had another big thing covered up under a sheet, he said he read Jules Verne when he was a boy despite it only been recently published. Was she not even a little bit curious? Doc could have easily stopped her during her rant saying he can prove it but didn't.

Answer: Because she thought he didn't like her and was making a bizarre excuse to avoid her. Come on. 'I'm a man from the future, so we can't be together ' sounds like a pretty flimsy excuse.

Brian Katcher

Question: Doc gets Marty back home. Then seconds later Marty appears again. He shows Doc the letter he wrote. So Marty goes back to 1885 to save him. They make a big deal of having to repair the DeLorean that was buried in the cave. But why can't they use the DeLorean that Marty just used to get back to 1955?

Answer: Because Marty didn't "just" arrive, he was already there, having come back from the alternate 1985 with Doc in the previous film. The DeLorean they used to get to 1955 is the one that is struck by lightning while Marty's on the ground, and sent Doc to 1885. He cannot repair it with the resources available in 1885, so he hides it in the cave with instructions that his 1955 self will use to fix it.

Question: When towing the car across the desert, why did Marty keep checking the speedometer? Did he really expect a horse to gallop at 88MPH?

Answer: At that point in the film, Doc and Marty were looking for any possible means to move the DeLorean regardless of how fast it could actually go; while using horses may have been an unlikely option, Doc and Marty were just grasping at straws at that point and were willing to try anything.

zendaddy621

But then Doc says that even the fastest horse in the world could only run at 35 mph so why even try it.

Question: Marty tells Doc that they are out of fuel as the fuel line ripped on the car. Wouldn't it have made more sense for them to uncover the DeLorean that Doc buried, put a piece of paper on the seat with a note saying something like... "Oh Marty, I forgot to mention in my letter that the car needs some extra fuel. Keep a can of gas with you in the car at all times" - Hey presto, Marty would have arrived with extra fuel! Now obviously I hear you shouting "continuity" and "It would be an alternate timeline like in part 2" - But that didn't stop Biff taking the car back to the 2015 Doc and Marty were in, despite Doc later saying if they travelled into the future it would be the rich Biff reality.

Answer: Although Biff in part 2 is its own set of problems, the answer to your question actually doesn't have anything to do with continuity or alternate timelines. They can't risk disturbing the Delorean that Doc burried in any way. It has to remain exactly as it is, otherwise at best Marty is stuck in 1955, or at worst they create a paradox that destroys the universe. It is best to ignore the buried Delorean, any attempts to get to it could lead to it being damaged, or even worse could lead to it being discovered in the 70 years it has to remain in that mine.

BaconIsMyBFF

Answer: It would have been easier for Marry and Doc to go down to Western Union and ask for a second letter to be delivered with the first. The letter would say "Ignore the comment in the first letter about not going back to 1885, please come to 1885 and bring some extra fuel with you"

Question: How did Doc power the Flux Capacitor on his new time-traveling train?

Answer: Steam, the whole thing is steam powered. He has just modified the train itself, probably making it much more efficient.

David Mercier

Question: How did the new gauge in the car read the boiler temperature? It wasn't connected to the train at all.

Answer: It was based on the speed the train, and therefore the car, was travelling.

Question: After deciding not to race Needles, Jennifer looks at the fax that she took from 2015 and sees that the words "YOU'RE FIRED!" were erased. Why didn't the name of the company also get erased?

Answer: The company would still be in the future, Marty wouldn't be working for it. His career as a musician would have taken off.

Question: Just wanting to know about the animal running in front of the Native Americans when Marty travels back to 1885. Looks like a dog, but was it meant to be there, or was it an animal that was disturbed as they did the scene and it bolted for its life?

Answer: It is a rabbit that probably got disturbed by the filming.

Bowling255 Premium member

Factual error: Though extremely modest on today's standards, the dress worn by Clara to the hoedown shows far too much cleavage for the time. No schoolteacher would ever wear a dress like that in the 1880s.

More mistakes in Back to the Future Part III

Doc: Clara was one in a million. One in a billion. One in a googolplex!

More quotes from Back to the Future Part III

Trivia: The band playing at the Hill Valley festival is rock band ZZ Top (two guys with long white beards playing guitar, and a drummer), who wrote songs for the film.

More trivia for Back to the Future Part III

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