Films may last forever, but props generally don’t – even ones that have made an indelible mark on popular culture. Props are made to look good on the screen, not for longevity, and after the director calls cut on the final shot, anything can happen.
Some iconic items find a loving home – Steven Spielberg famously bought a surviving Rosebud sled from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and recently donated it to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Others are literally consigned to the scrapheap – a few canny collectors in Australia have items from Star Wars, Superman Returns and The Matrix culled from dumpster-diving at Fox Studios.
And others have a longer public life, like the DeLorean time machine from Robert Zemeckis’ comedy/sci-fi classic Back to the Future. Piloted in the film series by Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd’s eccentric scientist, Doc Brown, the car was destroyed on screen at the end of Back to the Future Part III. But that was only one of three DeLoreans used for the movies, and while a second was eventually dismantled, the third and most detailed spent a long time doing promotional duties at parades, fairs and the Universal Studios backlot before it was eventually mothballed.
But now it lives again! The documentary Saving the Delorean Time Machine takes us through the painstaking process of bringing the DeLorean back up to spec. Working under the exacting Joe Walser, and with the full endorsement of Back to the Future writer and producer Bob Gale, a driven restoration team went to extraordinary lengths to make the now decades-old car look as good as it did when we first saw it looming out of the back of Doc Brown’s truck in 1985.