Did you realize that next week we will be officially living in the future?
In the 1989 movie “Back to the Future II,” Oct. 21, 2015, is the date Doc Brown programs into his famous time-travelling DeLorean car — and that date will be with us in less than a week’s time.
As a young woman in England, we all were enthralled by the series of three “Back to the Future” movies — especially the original one released in 1985 — when I was in my first year at Bristol University. The combination of traditional Americana of the 1950s — the high-school dance, the fashions of the day and the coffee bar in the town of Hill Valley — combined with the contemporary (and, to us, extremely cool!) 1980s American teenage life was very compelling.
I have to admit that I did not like the sequels quite as much as the original. Perhaps by then, when I was working hard in my first public-relations job in London, I had less time for such things.
However, it is sobering to think that we will truly arrive at that futuristic date next week and interesting to consider which of director Robert Zemeckis’ visions have become realities. For example:
• We are not all traveling around by hover boards, but according to www.hendohover.com, the technology startup business Arx Pax has developed prototype hover boards, which are based on magnetic levitation with four disc-like hover engines on the boards’ undersides.
• I clearly remember in “Back to the Future II,” Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) being impressed with his self-lacing light-up shoes — in England, we call these trainers, but I soon learned that Americans refer to them as sneakers or running shoes. Nike announced at the beginning of this year that it will release a version of its Air MAG shoes that will include laces powered by motorized rollers. The laces will tighten automatically when someone steps into the shoe, triggered by weight sensors in the sole.
• Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, Pepsi will launch a limited-edition line of Pepsi Perfect bottles on Wednesday — just like the ones Marty buys in the 1989 movie. According to www.pepsico.com, the company intends to make just 6,500 of these collectible bottles, available online for about $20 each. And inside these futuristic bottles? Just 16.9 ounces of plain, old, regular Pepsi-Cola.
The movie was certainly in the right ballpark when it referenced video-conferencing/Skype types of communication, tablet computers, flat-screen TVs, smart home and biometric technology, and hi-tech eyewear that could be interpreted as a prediction of Google Glass.
However, “Back to the Future II” did get some predictions very wrong:
• Flying cars remain very much in the sphere of science-fiction movies, even though every so often we hear about dedicated highways in the sky or multifunctional vehicles that can fly, drive on land and sometimes even on water.
• Fax machines and phone booths were very popular in the movie but, as we all know, email and cellphones have made this 1980s technology all but obsolete.
• Thankfully (in my opinion), we are not looking forward to the premiere of “Jaws 19,” a holographic advertisement that took Marty by surprise. In fact, the famous “Jaws” movie franchise only lasted four films, although recently, in acknowledgment of the “Back to the Future II” landmark date, a spoof trailer for “Jaws 19” was released on YouTube.
I leave you with a quote from good old Doc himself from “Back to the Future II”: “The time-traveling is just too dangerous. Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe — women!”
God bless America!
You can email Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.lesleyfrancispr.com.