Back to the Future Part III is a 1990 American science fiction comedy Western film. It is the third and final installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson and Lea Thompson. The film takes place immediately after the events of Back to the Future Part II. While stranded in 1955, Marty McFly discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown was killed by Biff Tannen’s great-grandfather Buford. Marty decides to travel to 1885 to rescue Doc and return to his own timeline.
Filming took place in both California and Arizona, and the film was released in the United States on May 25, 1990. The film was a commercial success and achieved $244.53 million at the international box office, making it the 6th highest grossing film of 1990. Fan reaction to the film was more positive than to the first sequel, with many stating that this entry to the series reflected the original better than Part II. Critics also gave Part III better reviews than Part II, which had been met with mostly mixed to positive reactions.
On November 12, 1955, Marty McFly discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown had become trapped in the year 1885. Marty, with Doc’s 1955 self, uses the information in Doc’s 1885 letter to locate and repair the DeLorean. While retrieving the car, Marty spots a tombstone with Doc’s name, dated six days after the letter. Learning that Doc was killed by Biff Tannen’s great-grandfather, Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, Marty decides to go back to 1885 to save Doc.
Marty arrives on September 2, 1885, in the middle of a United States Cavalry pursuit of Indians. While evading the pursuit, the DeLorean’s fuel line is torn, forcing Marty to hide the car in a cave and walk to Hill Valley. En route, Marty meets his Irish great-great-grandparents, Seamus and Maggie McFly. In Hill Valley, Marty runs afoul of Buford and his gang. Buford tries to hang Marty, but Doc saves him. Doc agrees to leave 1885, but with the DeLorean out of gasoline and no more available, there is no way to accelerate the car to 88 mph. Doc devises a scheme to use a locomotive to push the DeLorean up to speed. As Doc and Marty explore the rail spur they intend to use, they spot an out-of-control horse-drawn wagon. Doc saves the passenger, Clara Clayton. The two fall in love, finding many common interests, especially the works of Jules Verne. Buford tries killing Doc at a town festival, but Marty intervenes. Buford then goads Marty into a showdown in two days’ time. Consulting the photograph of Doc’s tombstone, they note that Doc’s name has disappeared, but the tombstone is otherwise unchanged. Doc tells Marty that the tombstone represents the events of the future, and warns Marty that he, not Doc, might be killed by Buford.
The night before their departure, Marty and Doc place the DeLorean (now with railroad-type wheels) onto the rail spur for its trip to the future. At Clara’s house, Doc tells Clara that he is from the future, but Clara believes it is an excuse to end their relationship and spurns him. Doc returns to the town saloon to get drunk, but Marty rides to the saloon and convinces Doc to leave with him. However, Doc drinks a single shot of whiskey and passes out. Buford arrives early and calls out Marty. However Marty has finally realized his reputation is unimportant and refuses to fight. Doc revives after being force-fed the bartender’s special “Wake-Up Juice” and tries fleeing with Marty, but Buford’s gang captures Doc, forcing Marty to duel. Marty uses a firebox door from a stove as a bullet-proof vest, and then hits Buford in the face with it. During the fistfight that follows, Buford destroys the tombstone (which vanishes from the photograph), is knocked unconscious, and is then arrested for an earlier robbery. Marty and Doc depart to “borrow” the locomotive.
Clara is leaving on the train when she overhears a salesman discussing a man he met in the saloon, despondent about his lost love. Realizing the man is Doc and that he truly loves her, Clara triggers the emergency brake and runs back to town. She discovers Doc’s model of the time machine and rides after him. Meanwhile, Doc and Marty, having “borrowed” the train at gunpoint, begin to push the DeLorean along the spur line, attempting to get it up to 88 miles per hour. Clara boards the speeding locomotive while Doc is climbing towards the DeLorean. Doc encourages Clara to join him, intending to bring her to 1985. As she climbs to Doc, the overheated locomotive boiler explodes. Clara falls and is left hanging by her dress. Marty passes the hoverboard to Doc, who uses it to save Clara. They coast away from the train as the DeLorean disappears through time, while the locomotive roars over the edge of the incomplete bridge and is demolished.
Marty arrives on October 27, 1985. He escapes the powerless DeLorean before it is hit by a freight train and destroyed, fulfilling Doc’s instructions. Marty returns home, discovering that everything has returned to the improved timeline. Marty finds Jennifer sleeping on her front porch. Later, he uses the lessons he learned in 1885 to avoid being goaded into a street race with Needles, avoiding a potential automobile accident. Jennifer opens the fax message she kept from 2015 and finds that the message regarding Marty being fired has been erased.
Marty takes Jennifer to the time machine wreckage. As they survey the remains, a steam-powered locomotive equipped with a flux capacitor appears, manned by Doc, Clara, and their children, Jules and Verne. Doc gives Marty a photo of the two of them by the clockworks at the 1885 festival. Jennifer inquires about the fax, and Doc tells them it means that the future has not been written yet. After the Browns bid farewell to their friends, Doc’s train converts into a aerial craft and roars off into an unknown time.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this film: