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“Next Saturday night, we’re sending you back to the future”: A mise en scene analysis of a still from Back to the Future

In Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (1985), one of the more iconic moments of the movie takes place about an hour into it when both Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doctor Brown (Christopher Lloyd) figure out how to “harness” the power of lightning to send Marty “back to the future.” Doc Brown says these last thrilling words in his living room one evening as he suddenly points directly at the camera, as if the audience in the movie are looking on from the future itself (as in a sense they are). As Marty and Doc takes turns moving towards the camera in the scene, the focus shifts from close up (as in the still above) to further back to the fireplace where four framed pictures of famous men, mostly scientists, line the mantlepiece--moving from left to right--Isaac Newton, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein. Otherwise, the room consists of a roaring fire and the kinds of lamps, doodads, and furniture that one might expect from a prosperous bachelor scientist living in a

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