The penultimate American holiday. Filled with celebration, food, a liberal amount of fireworks, the American flag emblazoned on every surface imaginable, and a nation united in its pride. Reveling in the secession from the British Empire on July 4, 1776, we always have taken this day to celebrate all things American to the extreme. Everything is big and bold, sometimes brash and gloriously unapologetic in how much we love our country. So why not have a movie that celebrates all of these?
July 2, 1996, 220 years after The Declaration of Independence day was signed, "Independence Day" was released (coincidentally the same day the story begins) to enthusiastic moviegoers worldwide. An over-the-top sci-fi drama with superb usage of CGI and practical effects that have retained much of their "wow" as it ages, fantastic performances from its ensemble as well as a stellar musical score contribute to a fantastic film. As far fetched as the films premise is, there is one thing that it possess that few films of its kind have: soul. Most summer blockbusters typically are action films with an orgy of explosions, fights, and A-list actors giving performances that are often ignored by the Academy. There is something about "Independence Day" that is able to tug at the heartstrings behind the alien battles and destruction throughout. The characters are relatable and diverse (albeit their development may not change much after their introduction) as they overcome the awful threat before them. THE Speech highlights the patriotism inside all of us and creates an idea for being united. Not only as a nation, but all of mankind united in pursuit of a common goal. Although we do not face the threat of an alien force seeking to exterminate us, it is a powerful message showing that it is a goal worth pursuing.
"Independence Day" follows a three-day timeline. Three days in which billions die, most major cities in the northern hemisphere are obliterated, and chaos as governments are trying to function with a fraction of forces leaders and personnel. To put the plot in very simple terms (and allowing one to fully enjoy the film) the events play out in a relatively simple manner. July 2, 1996, the aliens show up, place their city sized ships over cities, and once all of their forces are ready, they strike, obliterating whatever is beneath them.
July 3, 1996. Surviving world leaders and military forces organize counterattacks in response to the destruction, even going as far as to implement nuclear weapons, however everything fails. At Area 51, where the President and a handful of forces are hiding out, the famous Roswell incident is explained, showing that a reconnaissance team was sent to Earth, with the recovered alien bodies and ship under study at Area 51 since their recovery. A living alien is then brought to the base who divulges the goal of the planet's extermina. Mankind's situation is now seemingly hopeless until it a major weakness is discovered and implemented against them.
July 4, 1996. One of the best cinematic speeches ever is given (link at the bottom of this article). A decoy ship is sent to exploit the flaw in the aliens systems, forces around the globe unite in aerial airstrikes, and win.
A simple plot structure, but watching it onscreen is something else. Every time I sit down to watch it I am filled with hope, patriotism, happiness, and pride. The nostalgia of the 90s show how much has changed in 20 years, and how complex our world has gotten in such a short time. We can laugh at the technology of the era, the cheesiness that always exists in a disaster movie, and the epicness of the alien invasion. Also the film has its progressive qualities. For those who remember the late 90s, consider how rare it was for a film of this scale, to feature Judaism as the primary religion, which makes its appearance when a character decides in the face of possible death, to use his religion to comfort people around him and help them through the horror around them. A black actor in a lead role, as a Marine fighter pilot, aspiring to be an astronaut, showing onscreen race is not a precursor of what someone is capable of. Only his abilities are studied, and not the color of his skin. His girlfriend, an exotic dancer, shows that her job does not define who she is. A mother, a savior, woman with an amazing heart and strive to save others from tragedy, characteristics not typically applied to most women in her profession. A female holding the office of White House Press secretary, a position almost exclusively held by men, and in a era where women held few positions compared to their male counterparts. She stands by the President always remaining stoic together as she tries to help through the invasion. And a President throwing off his suit and stepping into his role as commander in chief in combat.
There is just something about it. It is such a fantastic film. The drama the action and the pacing are all done so well it is continually enjoyable, no matter how many times it is viewed. The music, this is one of the best soundtracks to come from a film and its contribution to the film, is enormous. It helps to convey the emotions so well, and adds a richness to the story that is so well incorporated its absence would be greatly noticed. Any flaws are minute, and difficult for me to uncover. Such a masterpiece and never a disappointment. So as Independence day approaches, add this to your celebration. Revel in the patriotic spirit and try to (safely) recreate the destruction in your backyard, and forever remember President Whitmore's Words; "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on, we're going to survive!"Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!
For the one of the greatest speeches ever click below.