Study Guide

Back to the Future Ambition

Ambition

Usually, when a movie focuses on the theme of ambition, someone's going somewhere. Heading off to L.A. to become a world-famous actor or sailing off into space to discover a new frontier. But in Back to the Future, no one ever leaves town. Still, there are some big dreams milling about in our heroes' heads.

George always wanted to be a successful science fiction writer. Doc has held onto a lifelong dream of building a working time machine. Marty—although he doesn't get to see his dreams come true—longs to be the next Van Halen. However, given Marty's improved self-esteem, his odds are looking good.

Questions About Ambition

  1. What is "blind ambition," and can the term be used to describe anyone in this movie?
  2. What is Marty's greatest ambition? To become a rock star? To wind up with Jennifer and have kids? To be proud of his family? To be part of something special?
  3. In Doc's case, his ambition has led him to invent a time machine, but he seems to lead a pretty lonely life. Did he let his ambition get in the way of happiness?
  4. How was a person's inner ambition viewed in the 1950's as opposed to the 1980's? What about today? Has the focus changed over time?

Chew on This

If Marty and Doc had focused less on their professional successes and more on their personal relationships, their lives would have been more fulfilling.

It may have been Doc's ambition that got Marty into the mess, but it was also his ambition that got him out of it.

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