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In the opening shot of Back to the Future, the audience is introduced to Emmett “Doc” Brown via his eclectic garage, which is packed with gadgets, some ripped of plutonium and of course, a lot of clocks — because, hello, foreshadowing.
And of all the clocks, the one that seemingly stands out for being the most random features a Denver Broncos helmet. So, what’s the deal? Is Doc a Broncos fan? Was it a memento from a Denver visit? Screenwriter Bob Gale explains to The Hollywood Reporter the story behind all the clocks for Back to the Future Day (Oct. 21).
“There were some specific clocks we (Gale and director Robert Zemeckis) asked for, such as the Felix the Cat clocks, and we knew we had to have at least one cuckoo clock,” Gale tells THR. The cuckoo clock speaks for itself (is Doc a crackpot?), but the Felix clocks were important because both Gale and Zemeckis owned one in their youth. “They were very popular in the 50s (who knows, maybe even in the 40s, not sure when it hit the market),” explains Gale. “So anyone who collects clocks would absolutely have one or more of those. And it’s a perfect movie clock because it’s constantly and very clearly in motion.”
A Safety Last! clock is also featured (an homage to silent film star Harold Lloyd dangling from a huge clock, much the same way Christopher Lloyd’s Doc (no relation to Harold, but still a fun coincidence) does at the end of the film. “We knew we had to feature that,” Gale says.
But what about the Broncos clock? Well, that one has no hidden meaning — unless viewers want it to have one.
Gale explains: “It was just something the set dressers or props people found, it was interesting so we put it in the movie. Is Doc a football fan or a Broncos fan? We know he’s a baseball fan, so he could be a football fan. Or maybe he acquired it on a trip to Denver. We know he’s not from Denver, but maybe his mother was (his father, remember, was German and originally Von Braun). Clearly, we can invent many backstories out of a single prop, so in honor of BTTF day, I encourage readers to submit their own reasons why Doc would have this clock!”
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