The time machine was once conceived as a refrigerator. Einstein was envisioned as a chimpanzee named Shemp. The 1.21 gigawatt reaction that sent Marty through time was originally going to be caused by a nuclear explosion.

These are the kinds of pieces of trivia that most diehard Back to the Future fans have known about for years. I thought I knew a lot about the making of the trilogy, but it wasn't until I read Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History that I realized I had just scratched the surface. Written by the second and third film's production publicist Michael Klastorin along with Randal Atamaniuk, this book is the most exhaustive behind-the-scenes making-of account I've ever read, and it's full of incredible anecdotes from the cast and crew, never-before-seen photos, dazzling concept art, and painstakingly detailed reports about every single week of the production of all three movies in the trilogy.

Before you even get into the meat of the book, there's a foreword by Michael J. Fox, a preface by Christopher Lloyd, and an introduction by writer/producer Bob Gale. (Writer/director Robert Zemeckis handles the afterword.) The fact that all of these guys have endorsed this book should tell you something about how awesome it is; they, along with countless other cast members (Lea Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Elijah Wood, etc.) recount stories and memories of what it was like filming every step of the way as the authors take us from the writers coming up with the concept for the original movie to the tough process of actually finding a studio to get it made, all the way through the back-to-back production of both sequels. Plus, there are tons of interviews and details about the Universal Studios ride and the short-lived animated series (did you know Ant-Man director Peyton Reed directed Christopher Lloyd's live-action segments of the animated series? He talks about that experience in here, too). Zemeckis and Gale offered the authors access to their personal records as well as access to the Universal Studios archives to make sure everything is completely accurate and as detailed as possible.

Not only does it have everything you could possibly want to know about the trilogy as it currently exists, it also takes us through versions that never happened, detailing every plot development of every draft of all three movies, some of which are pretty incredible. One of my favorite aspects of the book are all of the scans of letters, faxes, and memos sent back and forth between executive producer Steven Spielberg, the two Bobs (Gale and Zemeckis), and the various department heads. There's a casting call sheet listing Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, John Cleese, Robin Williams, Mandy Patinkin, Mickey Rourke, Gene Hackman, Gene Wilder, Randy Quad, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Candy, Eddie Murphy, and — get this — Bill Cosby as potential candidates to play Doc Brown. Now that's heavy. And a memo from Amblin Entertainment reveals that Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen both read for the part of Marty.

Additionally, there are a bunch of photos of Eric Stoltz on the set as Marty McFly, many of which have never been seen publicly before. His entire time on the project is laid out here, as well as exactly what happened when Fox was brought on to replace him.

But hands down the coolest aspect of this book are all of the extras that come along with it. As you turn the pages, you'll come across awesome recreations of the props from the franchise, including:

  • Hill Valley High School Tardy Slip
  • Back to the Future The Ride security pass
  • Save the Clocktower leaflet (complete with Jennifer's phone number on the back!)
  • Sepia photograph of Marty and Doc from Part III
  • Marty’s note to Doc from the first film with the "Do Not Open Until 1985" envelope
  • George McFly’s book (with a plot description written by Gale specifically for this book!)
  • Jaws 19 movie poster
  • George and Lorraine’s prom photo
  • Doc’s flux capacitor sketch from the first film
  • Doc’s note to Marty from 1885
  • Biff one dollar bill from Part II
  • Blast from the Past receipt from Part II
  • Lenticular version of the iconic McFly family photo from the first film

These items alone are worth the cover price; you can hang them on your walls and by the time you hit the last page, you'll have enough for an entire BTTF-themed room (or at least a small shrine). 

This book will change the way you watch these movies forever. If you're a BTTF fan — and let's face it, I've never heard of anyone who's seen the movie and thinks it's only OK — Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is a must-buy. You can purchase it right here starting today, just in time for tomorrow's Back to the Future Day: October 21st, 2015, the date Marty and Doc traveled to in Part II.

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