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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Not very magical, still... » » Help me figure out time travel.... (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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MagicSanta
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Okay, here is something that has been bothering me for years. In Back to the Future Part Three after recovering the Delorean from the cave the dog finds the grave stone of Doc Brown which is what makes Marty decide to go back to 1885. The grave stone says "placed here by his beloved Clara" or something to that effect.

When Marty and Doc are planning their return to 1985 they discuss Clayton Ravine, and later after saving the life of Clara Clayton they realize they have altered history by her not going over the edge and being killed and thus the ravine being named after her. Doc and Clara fall in love blah blah blah....

Here is my question. If Marty had not gone back in time then he and Doc would not have been at the Ravine checking out the tracks. This is indicated by the fact that it was this event that resulted in Clara being saved and her death not occuring. Had Marty not gone back then Doc would have been killed but being so then Clara would not have been saved and would have died and could NOT have put the tombstone up for her beloved Doc Brown! The indication is that Marty must have, in time continuem, travelled back and forth in a loop, such as was exhibited in episode one where Marty comes back and sees himself going back in time. But if it was a loop then the events leading to Doc Brown not being killed would have occured and thus no tombstone would exist with the date on it of the killing.

There, that explains it well enough. So here is the question. How did Clara arrange the stone of she was dead prior to even meeting Doc Brown? I demand answers!
Scott Cram
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Back to the Future is a complex movie series, which involves no less than 8 timelines!

In the original timeline, before anyone has gone back in time, someone else is presumably assigned to meet the new school teacher on September 4th, 1885, but isn't in the right place at the right time to save her. For all we know, the anonymous person who would meet her in this timeline went to the right place, but was late for one reason or another, making them too late to save Clara's life.

In the timeline where Doc is the only one who goes to the old west, Doc is assigned to be the one to meet Clara ("the new school teacher") on September 4th, 1885. Doc is therefore going to be in the general area where he needs to be to meet Clara, which is how he manages to save her life, and falls in love with her at first sight. Unfortunately, Doc is shot by Buford Tannen at the town festival the next day, and Doc dies of his wounds on Monday.

In another timeline, where Marty goes back to save Doc, Marty affects the timeline. When Marty comes back, Doc is now trying to avoid meeting the new school teacher, so that the timeline will be disrupted, and he presumably won't be shot. However, fate steps in and puts Doc (and Marty) in the right place where they need to be to save Clara anyway.

Does this help clear things up?
MagicSanta
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There is a problem. Doc was suppose to meet Clara when she arrived in town (I thought the guy said to meet the stage) so the idea that he would have been in place to save Clara wouldn't have occured because he was there due to Marty. Now I just realized that her death occurs before Docs going to 1885 but his presence shouldn't have effected the death. You are correct about someone meeting her if Doc had not gone back in time but that would have been a moot point since she would have been dead. We still are missing the key piece that saves Clara without the intervention of Marty and Doc. Could there have been a third horseman on the knoll we don't see? If someone has HDTV they could watch it and see if they spot a puff of dust or something and thus indicate the third horseman. What about the angles? Could the third horseman have had a clear run on Clara to save her?
DStachowiak
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You have come to a crashing halt up against the time travel paradox. Your only hope here is to escape through one of the holes in the "Back to the Future" plot. Smile
Actually, I am impressed that you followed this point through as astutely as you did. I have to avoid such things, I have a tendency toward OCD, and I can get WAYYYY too involved in this stuff!
Woke up.
Fell out of bed.
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Scott Cram
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I've watched BTTF III again, and I think I can clear this up better for you now.

In the old west timeline without Doc or Marty, nobody volunteers to pick Clara up at the train station, so she drives herself to her new house via a horse and cart, but the horse is spooked and she gets thrown into the ravine and killed.

In the timeline where just Doc goes back to the old west, he volunteers to meet her at the train station. He does so, and takes her to her house safely. She never takes the cart with the horse that gets spooked, so she never gets killed by being thrown into the ravine.

When Marty goes back to the old west, he is able to warn Doc about the series of events, and they figure it will be disrupted if they avoid meeting Clara. In this timeline, Doc purposefully avoids meeting Clara at the train station. With no one to meet her at the station, Clara drives herself home via that horse and cart again. However, since Doc and Marty happened to be near the ravine to figure out how to get back to 1985, Doc accidentally winds up saving Clara anyway.
gaddy
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Gawdz I love time travel....
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
MagicSanta
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Excellent point Scott. Since Marty learned the name of the ravine at school the only way we would know if Doc would have saved her by picking her up, since the request to pick up Clara had nothing to do with Marty and would have happened regardless, was to go back in time to where he learned the name of the ravine in the first place. Remember we know it is Clayton Ravine....no...wait a moment. The cycle of time would begin again in 1885 after the arrival of Doc Brown which is proved by the delivery of the letter to Marty in 1955. In that 1955 there is a scene that shows a sign that says "Clayton Ravine" not Eastwood Ravine or the original indian name. This means in order for the dimension of time for Doc to be alive to write the letter to Marty then in that same dimention Clara dies in the ravine and again could not have paid for the tombstone.

We must resolve this issue!
magicgeorge
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Nice work, Scott, 2 oompa-loompa's have just died from exhaustion.

I got stuck in a loop, as a kid, thinking about who wrote "Johnny B. Goode" and try not to think about any one part of the film for more than 5 minutes (to help protect my ever dwindling sanity).

I still want a hoverboard, though. How long have I left to wait?
MagicSanta
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I also wondered how they got away with implying Chuck Berry stole that song. Then again, if Marty had never gone back would Chuck Berry had been one of the fathers of rock? I'm telling you Back to the Future should have its own area.
Scott Cram
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Quote:
On 2007-12-28 20:24, MagicSanta wrote:
Excellent point Scott. Since Marty learned the name of the ravine at school the only way we would know if Doc would have saved her by picking her up, since the request to pick up Clara had nothing to do with Marty and would have happened regardless, was to go back in time to where he learned the name of the ravine in the first place. Remember we know it is Clayton Ravine....no...wait a moment. The cycle of time would begin again in 1885 after the arrival of Doc Brown which is proved by the delivery of the letter to Marty in 1955. In that 1955 there is a scene that shows a sign that says "Clayton Ravine" not Eastwood Ravine or the original indian name. This means in order for the dimension of time for Doc to be alive to write the letter to Marty then in that same dimention Clara dies in the ravine and again could not have paid for the tombstone.

We must resolve this issue!


To quote Doc, "You're just not thinking fourth-dimensionally!"

First, Doc writes the letter on Sept. 1st, 1885 (see the date on the letter in BTTF2). In any of the timelines that include both Doc and Clara in the old west, he would be alive on that date, but Doc and Clara wouldn't have met yet. Remember, the first time Marty asks Doc about who Clara is, he has no idea. It's not until the mayor mentions her name as the new school teacher that Doc knows who she is.

In the original timeline, Clara fell into the ravine as a result of an accident, and it was re-named Clayton Ravine in her honor.

In the timeline where only Doc has gone back to the old west, Clara is saved by Doc and falls in love with him. The next day, they go to the town festival where Doc is shot by "Mad Dog" Tannen, and dies on Monday. Clara is despondent over losing her true love, especially after having so little time with him (Remember how she felt when she thought Doc was lying to her and breaking up with her?). Feeling deeply despondent, Clara buries Doc, and then further honors his memory by committing suicide via jumping into the ravine. The town feels sorry for her, and re-names the ravine in her honor.

Now, as soon as Doc disappears from 1955 (jumping back to 1885), Marty would still think of Clayton Ravine as being named after a school teacher who fell in there, as he remembered hearing and enjoying the story as a kid. True, the historical fact would instantly change from an accident to a suicide for Marty, but if he didn't know about the original accident, he wouldn't know about the suicide, either.

When Marty does join Doc in 1885, all Marty ever specifically says about it is that "Clayton Ravine was named after a teacher. They say she fell in there a hundred years ago. Every kid in school knows that story 'cause we all have teachers we'd like to see fall into the ravine." He never specifies whether it was an accident or on purpose.
MagicSanta
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Right, so we must accept facts not in evidence to make the movie work. You are correct Scot and I truely appreciate you helping me sort this out. Makes perfect sense to me.
TomKMagic
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Checkout this time travel circuit and theory why it works! http://keelynet.com/time/bajak1.htm
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Jonathan Townsend
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Even given the ability to "travel in time", the basic problem with time travel stories is knowing IF one has returned to one's own history.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Scott Cram
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I can't believe we've gotten into this level of detail, and this far in a Back To The Future thread, and nobody's made a play on, "Great Scott!"

Smile
TomKMagic
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Quote:
On 2007-12-28 23:34, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Even given the ability to "travel in time", the basic problem with time travel stories is knowing IF one has returned to one's own history.


I would just leave a trail of bread crumbs, so I would know where I have been.
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Tom Kracker
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Jonathan Townsend
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Not bad for a children's tale, though how would you recognize your bread crumbs when you see bread crumbs on your travels?

Wasn't "Great Scott" one of the Rocky Horror Picture Show audience callout lines?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
MagicSanta
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Yes indeedy do. I had the pleasure, since you brought it up, of going to Rocky Horror the first night it ran in Jacksonville Florida (a dirty vicious town back then, I loved it). I, having moved back to Georgia from San Francisco area, had seen Rocky a few times so I start shouting out the lines.....they tossed me out! I got kicked out of Rocky Horror for yelling at the screen! I was also drunk.
Scott Cram
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"Great Scott" can be found in many of the Superman and Batman comics of the '50s (as well as the late '40s and early '60s).

It's an adaption of "Gruess Gott", which is German for "Great (or good) God!"
Gilgamesh_The_Librarian
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The tihing with time paradoxes is to not get to caught up in them. There is a simple explanation called Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey as explained by the good Doctor (Who) when he meets himself in this special short.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4dxDxXOnjGk
Scott Cram
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I always like the approach that the show "7 Days" took to time travel.

First, travel was done via an alien sphere, and it could only travel 7 days into the past (no more, no less). Whenever a character (usually the main character, "chrononaut" Frank Parker) used the sphere to travel back in time, both he and the sphere that existed 7 days ago would stop existing where they were originally, and be instantly replaced by the character and the sphere who had traveled from the future. (Note: The sphere wouldn't always stay in the same place during time travel. It would often end up miles away.)

This way, Frank would never run into himself in the past and the base would never have duplicate spheres.

One thing I liked about the show is that it could do just about anything as an opening. President's daughter killed? Go back and save her. White House blown up? No problem, go back and stop it. Nuclear war? No problem, go back and stop it (remember, they were based in a deep underground military facility).

It's last episode was originally broadcast in May of 2001. Had the show continued, it would have been interesting to see how they would've handled the 9/11 attacks.
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