He also has to figure out a way to fix the time machine which runs on plutonium. With the help of scientist “Doc” Emmett Brown , he tries to find a way to return to 1985. Throughout the film the use of setting and props is used to create character, establish time period, reveal important plot points, and establish important themes.
The opening shot of Back to the Future is a Dolly. The Director uses this shot to introduce us to one of the main characters of the movie,“Doc” Emmet Brown, and reveal that he is a really messy inventor. As we go around his place we see a huge amount of clocks, every single one has a different shape and seems to come out of a different time period. Then we see a chain-reaction-invention: It all starts with the clock that rings at a certain time that activates the coffee maker that activates the toaster and that activates the TV. When the TV is turned on we are introduced to Doc’s background. We get the information that 2 weeks ago a box of plutonium was stolen from the nuclear research laboratory. We then see that the dog food opener is activated. This invention has been created to make Doc’s life easier, but the fact that the dog food bowl is overflowing with food tells us that Doc has not been around for several days. In the next shot we move from the level of the inventions to the level of Marty”s feet . We know that he is not the owner of that place cause he knocks on the door and calls Doc several times. He puts his skateboard down and kicks it softly and it rolls against a box of plutonium that is hidden under a blanket under the table so Marty doesn't notice it. . Again we are introduced to an object that is going to play a huge roll in the movie. Marty goes to a huge amplifier in the house and turns every switch on to max. He plugs a cable in the guitar and uses his plectrum. As soon as he hits one note he gets blown across the room and destroys the amplifier. We see his face for the first time when he stands up. He thinks that was awesome. His character is a young man that goes to high school and obviously loves rock and roll.
When Doc calls there is a POV shot of Marty and all the clocks ring. The camera pans around and gives a blurry not focused image. The image looks kind of disturbed and so is the character in that shot. He is disturbed because all the clocks in the room are ringing at the same time and he is not prepared for that. As he realizes that all the clocks are wrong he runs out, because he is going to be late for school. And with that last shot we are again introduced to the plutonium box under the table, as if the director wants to remind us once more that Doc has the plutonium that was mentioned in the TV show. Within this whole beginning we have been introduced to the two main characters and learned about them, gotten some important plot information about the use of plutonium, and been shown that time is going to be an important part of this time-travel story.
In the scene after that Marty goes from Doc’s place to the school. We follow him on his skateboard. He skates towards a car and holds onto it. Cause he doesn't have a car because his family can’t effort it. He is very skilled with his skateboard. Through the scene we are introduced to a very big part of the town ( Hill Valley). For example a Florist, a gym, a burger King, a Toys R Us, a modern Texaco, a biker bar, a truck with Goldie Wilson’s face on it and the driver of the car that Marty holds on to wears a mountain Dew hat. There are very modern cars in the town, and cars are all over the place. So the image of the town seems pretty 80s like. The music that is playing over the whole scene is “The Power of Love” (Rock).
In the scene he enters Hill Valley in 1955. What we see is an advertisement to see a movie for 50 cents. We see a man dressed in 50s clothing and we see a bunch of really old cars. The next thing we see is an old style Texaco gas station. At that station, there are men that do special services to the cars that drive up (that doesn’t happen in 1985.) The next thing we see is a old record store selling 50s music. One of the biggest props in this movie is the clock that starts to ring again. During the whole scene, Mr. Sandman plays a song from that time period.
All these details, costumes and sets are establishing the time period in a huge and amazing way.