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Stupid Reason Why Back To The Future II Just Changed On Netflix

Sometimes, censorship just goes too far...

Back To The Future Part II Oh La La
Universal Pictures

If you've watched Back To The Future Part II enough times - which we probably all have - you'll be particularly familiar with it. You'll know every nook and crevice of its story, every tiny, scary detail of its prophetic Donald Trump allegory and every time travel impossibility posed by Old Biff somehow returning the time machine to an unaltered timeline.

Those are the intricacies and idiosyncrasies that we love the film for and they've mostly been unmolested in the decades since the film was released. There's never been a hugely different Director's Cut or a heavily censored TV cut (because as Dystopian future films go, it's rather tame) and we've always been able to see the intended vision of the film-makers unchanged.

That was until recently when the film studio decided that one of the tamest little moments of all time in any film was changed by Netflix in the name of... not offending someone? Who even knows really, because it's ridiculous.

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The censorship mostly came to light on the back of Bob Gale - who wrote the film - talking to the Hollywood Reporter to confirm that he had made sure that a change made to the movie was removed and the original cut restored to the platform's library. A powerful move by the writer and score one for artistic integrity in the face of over-zealous editing. Well sort of, because the change was just baffling stupid in the first place.

Universal had decided, for whatever reason, to remove a tiny moment when we got to see the cover of Oh La La magazine which Biff Tannen hides inside the dust cover of the infamous Sports Almanac that Marty unwittingly steals from him. It's about as soft as porn gets and it's played entirely for laughs. And yet Universal took it out.

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Bob Gale wasn't having that though, so on the back of fans noticing the cut and getting understandably upset about how dumb it all was, he took Netflix to task:

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“The blame is on Universal who somehow furnished Netflix an edited version of the movie. I learned about it some ten days ago from an eagle-eyed fan, and had the studio rectify the error. The version now running is the uncensored, unedited, original version.”

According to Gale, the censored version was created by the studio without anyone ever telling Gale himself or director Robert Zemeckis, presumably for a sensitive market that couldn't stomach Oh La La.

“Apparently, this was a foreign version which neither director Robert Zemeckis nor I even knew existed, for some country that had a problem with the Oh La La magazine cover. I asked that the studio destroy this version. FYI, Netflix does not edit films — they only run the versions that are supplied to them. So they’re blameless. You can direct your ire at Universal, but I think they will be a lot more careful in the future — and with ‘the future.’”

Quite which territory that would be remains to be seen. Because why would they be upset with the tiniest flash of a porno magazine that shows precisely nothing and have no issues with terrorism in the first movie, or spousal abuse and gigantic plastic breasts and attempted murder in the second? Seems a bit weird.

Anyway, the film is now restored and that's why it might well be a tiny bit different the next time you watch it on Netflix. And rightly bloody so.

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Chief Operations Officer

WhatCulture's COO and veteran writer and editor.