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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History’ is “Heavy” No Matter What Time Continuum You Live In


“Mr. Fox, you’re trying to seduce me.”


I don’t read often, but when I do, I like plenty of pictures. Thankfully, Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History arrived just in the nick of time.

Let me expound upon that statement further. Reading takes time. And that’s assuming, unlike me, you know how to do it in the first place. I jest of course, but also fully admit to not being the fastest reader on my block… or any block for that matter. To provide a little prospective, in the few hours many people can zip through something like The Grapes of Wrath, I would most-likely just have finished absorbing the table of contents. Even if I had some sort of time-jumping device, I’d still probably be stuck on the first chapter of Call of the Wild… which I started back in 8th grade.


Einstein as Person

Hmmm, I don’t seem to remember Buck having a time machine in the version of Call of the Wild I read.


There are however a couple of exceptions to my slow-reading rule. One of them is lots of photos or illustrations, and the other is subject matter that motivates me. As luck should have it, Harper Design hit both of those notes in perfect tune with the release of Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History. (And before I forget, a HUGE thank you to Harper for the review copy.) This new BTTF bible, as I now like to call it, was written by the second and third film’s production publicist Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk, respectively. Much like a slew of other new products, this collectible is being released in accordance with the date Marty McFly traveled into the future to save his own timeline in the trilogy’s first sequel, Back to The Future II. Because we humans enjoy celebrating holidays of fictional events as opposed to real historical anniversaries (i.e. that snoozer called Presidents Day), October 21st, 2015 has officially been dubbed, Back to the Future Day.


Ultimate Book Cover

“Bookstores? Where we’re going, we don’t need bookstores. Amazon has seen to that!”


For starters, don’t even think about buying this book before hitting the gym or buying some sort of crane to lift this into your bookshelf. To steal a popular quote from the film, this sucker is “heavy”. The beautiful hardcover behemoth is not only packed to the gills with heavy stock gloss color paper, but a vast array of additional paper-based trinkets from the past and future sprinkled in for good measure. (More on those shortly.)

On top of the encyclopedia of information most people have accumulated over the past 30 years since the original Back to the Future film premiered, readers are provided a treasure trove of new never-before-seen content such as versions of the movies that never happened and story development of every draft of every film from the franchise. Hell, there are even letters, faxes and correspondence presented that breakdown the back and forth between Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis and executive producer Steven Spielberg, among others.


DeLorean Concept

Anyone else sensing a certain “Force” in those DeLorean mock-ups?


Speaking of Gale and Zemeckis, both gentleman offered the authors access to their own personal records as well as access to the Universal Studios archives to assure that everything was as precise and meticulous as humanly possible. It only takes the first few pages of the book to realize this when you see Gale himself has provided the introduction, which is only to be outdone with a foreword by Michael J. Fox and a preface by Christopher Lloyd. Zemeckis ties the whole package up with his afterword (yeah, I’ve never heard it used that way either.)


MJ Fox Foreward

Without him, this movie would have been “history”.


As I proclaimed above, this book is absolutely jammed back with new info never known by the general public before. Seeing as I don’t have the time to share it all with you (plus you’d never go out to buy the book anyway) I’ll provide this little taste of some of the info inside. While most researched fans of the trilogy know Eric Stoltz was originally cast (and part of the way through filming) as Marty McFly before Mr Fox came on board, I bet you didn’t know that heavy hitting actors such as Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, John Cleese, Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, Steve Martin, John Candy, Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby were listed on the casting call sheet for none other than Doc Brown. And yes, you read that right, Bill Cosby!


Partial Casting List

Egon as Doc? My mind just exploded a little bit. And this is only half the list. (Full list is in the book!)


All that being said, if reading the English language isn’t your cup of tea (or it just takes you forever to read it like me), as hinted at above, the real value of this book comes in the amazing extras packed between the pages. Since space is of the essences, I won’t go into a breakdown of each, but here is a list of all the “Future” goodies you get with your purchase.


  • Hill Valley High School Tardy Slip – BTTF 1
  • Save the Clock Tower leaflet complete with Jennifer’s digits on the back – BTTF 1  (You know I’ve already tried calling it.)
  • Marty’s note to Doc from the first film w/ the “Do Not Open Until 1985” envelope – BTTF 1
  • George McFly’s book with a plot description written by Gale exclusively for this book – BTTF 1
  • George and Lorraine’s prom photo – BTTF 1
  • Lenticular version of the iconic McFly family photo – BTTF 1
  • Doc’s flux capacitor sketch from the first film – BTTF 1
  • Jaws 19 movie poster – BTTF 2
  • Doc’s note to Marty from 1885 – BTTF 2
  • Biff one dollar bill – BTTF 2
  • Blast from the Past receipt – BTTF 2
  • Sepia photograph of Marty and Doc – BTTF 3
  • Back to the Future The Ride security pass



It’s not just a book, it’s also a souvenir dispenser.


If I’ve failed to mentioned it before, I’ll rehash here quickly again. Back the Future is my second favorite film of all-time – right behind a certain 80’s paranormal exterminator comedy – and is easily the most beloved film trilogy ever released amid all my pupils have taken in over their lifetime. Keeping that in mind, I’m not going to mince words here; Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is a MUST buy for any devoted fan of the films, right up there with the new blu-ray release. It’s hands down the most comprehensive licensed book ever released on the popular franchise, and it will remain that way for a long time to come. Nothing short of a time traveling DeLorean can change that.

Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is available now at Amazon.


6 Spurs


Bttf Dru Struzan

“Not me guys, your watches! Look at the watches!”






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