(also known by its promotional abbreviation
ID4) is a 1996 science
fiction film about a hostile alien
invasion of Earth, focusing on a disparate
group of individuals and families as they coincidentally converge
in the Nevada desert and, along with
the rest of the human population,
participate in a last-chance retaliation on July 4 – the same
date as the Independence Day
holiday in the
It was directed by Roland Emmerich
, who co-wrote the script
with producer Dean Devlin
While promoting Stargate
Europe, Emmerich came up with the idea for the film when fielding a
question about his own belief in the non-existence of alien life.
He and Devlin decided to incorporate a large-scale attack when
noticing that aliens in most invasion films travel long distances
only to remain hidden when
reaching Earth. Principal photography for the film began in
July 1995 in New York
City, and the film was officially completed on June 20,
The film was scheduled for release on July 3, 1996, but due to the
high level of anticipation for the movie, many theaters began
showing it on the evening of July 2, 1996, the same day the action
in the film begins. The movie's combined domestic and international
box office gross was $816,969,268, which at one point was the
second-highest worldwide gross of all-time. It currently holds the
22nd highest worldwide
of a movie all-time, and was at the forefront of the
large-scale disaster film
fiction resurgences of the mid-to-late-1990s.
On July 2, a gigantic alien mothership
enters orbit around Earth
deploys several dozen saucer-shaped "destroyer" spacecraft, each in
the destroyers take positions over some of Earth's major cities,
David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), an
MIT graduate working for a cable company in New York City, discovers hidden satellite transmissions which he
believes to be a timer counting down to a coordinated attack by the
help of his ex-wife Constance Spano (Margaret Colin), a senior White House employee, he and his father Julius (Judd Hirsch) gain entrance into the Oval Office to warn President Thomas J.
Whitmore (Bill Pullman
) of the
impending attack. The President immediately orders large-scale
evacuations of the targeted cities, but the aliens attack with
before these could occur. The President, his
daughter, portions of his staff, and the Levinsons narrowly escape
aboard Air Force One as the
destroyers simultaneously lay waste to Washington, D.C, New York
Angeles, and several other major cities around the
[[Image:Forcefieldindependencedayfilm.JPG|thumb|left|One of the
alien ships using force fields
missiles fired from American fighter aircraft.]]
On July 3,
the United States conducts a coordinated counterattack; Black Knights, a squadron of Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets participate in an assault on a
destroyer near the destroyed city of Los Angeles.
Their weapons fail to penetrate the craft's
, and it responds by
releasing scores of smaller "attacker" ships which are similarly
shielded and armed with directed-energy weapons
, and a
ensues. Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) survives the attack by luring a
single attacker to the Grand Canyon.
There, he blinds the alien with the braking
parachute on his jet and ejects just before running out of fuel,
causing both to crash in the desert.
Having parachuted to safety, he subdues the injured alien. Hiller
is subsequently picked up by Russell Casse (Randy Quaid
), a man who believes he was abducted by aliens
and is traveling across
the desert with a group of refugees in a convoy of RV
. They take the captured alien to nearby
Area 51, commanded by Major Mitchell (Adam Baldwin), where the President and his
remaining staff have also landed.
Here, it is shown Area 51
conceals a top secret facility housing a repaired attacker and
three alien bodies recovered from Roswell
When lead scientist Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner
) and his team attempt to remove a
"bio-mechanical" suit from the alien, the specimen regains
consciousness, attempts escape, and takes control of Okun's mind.
When questioned by President Whitmore, it reveals through a
telepathic connection that its species travels from planet to
planet, destroying all life and harvesting a planet's natural
resources before moving on to the next planet. The alien attempts a
attack against Whitmore, but is
killed. Whitmore orders a nuclear attack on all destroyers using
B-2 Spirit bombers; the first one to be
hit is the alien destroyer hovering over a deserted Houston, Texas, but this too fails to penetrate the craft's shield
and destroys the city instead.
As a result, the remaining
bombers are called back.
The alien fighter approaches the
Meanwhile Hiller's girlfriend Jasmine finds several survivor's with
her child and among the survivors of Los Angeles are the First Lady
Marilyn Whitmore However when they are rescued it is discovered
that the first lady has fatal wounds from a helicopter crash and
On July 4, Levinson devises a plan to use the repaired attacker to
gain access to the interior of the alien mothership in space in
order to introduce a computer virus
and plant a nuclear bomb
This, it is hoped, will cause the shields of the Earth-based alien
craft to fail long enough for the human resistance to eliminate
them. Hiller volunteers to be the mission's pilot, with Levinson
accompanying him to upload the virus. With satellite communications
knocked out, the Americans use Morse code
to coordinate an attack with the remaining forces around the world,
timed to occur when the invaders' shields are set to fail. With few
military pilots to man all available aircraft, the battle requires
several volunteers, including President Whitmore and Russell. Both
have previous combat flight experience. Also the Secretary of
Defense is fired by the Whitmore because of his wife's death.
With the successful implantation of the virus, President Whitmore
leads the American jet fighters against an alien destroyer on
approach to Area 51. Although the aliens now lack shields, the
fighters' supply of missiles are quickly exhausted against the
colossal craft and its large complement of assault ships. The
underside of the alien craft opens up as its directed-energy weapon
prepares to fire on the base. Russell possesses the last remaining
missile, but his firing mechanism jams. Changing his plan, he
pilots his aircraft into the alien weapon in a suicide attack
The ensuing explosion causes a chain reaction which annihilates the
ship. Using this same method, human resistance forces around the
world destroy the remainder of the alien ships and saving several
surviving major cities including Cairo Egypt and Sydney Australia,
while the nuclear device planted by Hiller and Levinson destroys
the alien mothership soon after the duo escape. Hiller and Levinson
return unharmed, crash-landing their captured alien fighter in the
desert close to Area 51. The world celebrates, and the film ends as
the main characters watch debris from the mothership enter the
atmosphere like fireworks.
Cast and characters
- Will Smith as
Captain Steven Hiller: An assured United States Marine Corps
F/A-18 pilot at the forefront of the
human resistance counter-offensive. His ambition before the alien attack is
to join NASA's astronaut training program. Devlin and
Emmerich had always envisioned an African-American for the role,
and specifically wanted Smith after seeing his performance in
Six Degrees of
- Bill Pullman as
President Thomas J. Whitmore: A
former Persian Gulf War fighter pilot and
current President of the
United States whose approval ratings early in the film indicate
the nation's dissatisfaction with his performance. To prepare for
the role, Pullman read The Commanders by Bob Woodward and watched the documentary film
The War Room.
Goldblum as David Levinson: An
MIT-educated computer expert who is a chess enthusiast and environmentalist, working as a satellite
technician for a cable television company in New York City when he
discovers the aliens' invasion plot. He still has strong
feelings for his ex-wife and later formulates a plan to defeat the
McDonnell as First Lady Marilyn
Whitmore: The wife of President Whitmore, wounded while
fleeing the destruction of Los Angeles and later dies from her injuries.
- Judd Hirsch as
Julius Levinson: A cigar-smoking Jewish immigrant and widowed
father of David Levinson, whom he loves but also teases by
referring to him as a cable repairman.
- Robert Loggia as
General William Grey: A United States Marine Corps
general who is the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, and one of President Whitmore's most trusted
advisors. Loggia modeled the character after generals of World War II, particularly George S. Patton.
- Randy Quaid as
Russell Casse: A widowed, alcoholic crop duster and veteran Vietnam War pilot who claims to have been an
alien abductee ten years prior
to the events of the film. He struggles to care for his three
children. At the end of the film, he sacrifices himself to destroy
an alien destroyer, gaining the admiration of his eldest son, who
previously held little respect for him.
- Margaret Colin
as Constance Spano: The White House Communications
Director and David's ex-wife. Though she still loves David, she
feels that he is underachieving, and divorced him to pursue her
career alongside President Whitmore.
- Vivica A.
Jasmine Dubrow: A single mother, Steve's
girlfriend and exotic dancer. She
searches for fellow survivors in the aftermath of the Los Angeles
attacks, finding the First Lady in the process.
- James Rebhorn as
Albert Nimziki: The Secretary of Defense and former
director of the CIA. He
advocates the use of nuclear weapons in response to the alien
threat. Rebhorn described the character as being much like Oliver North. The character's eventual firing
lampoons Joe Nimziki, MGM's head
of advertising and reportedly accounted for unpleasant experiences
for Devlin and Emmerich when studio executives forced recuts of
Fierstein as Marty Gilbert: David's
flamboyant boss killed during the alien attack on New York City.
- Adam Baldwin as
Major Mitchell: A United States Air Force officer who
is the commanding officer at Area
- Brent Spiner as
Dr. Brackish Okun: The unkempt and highly
excitable scientist in charge of research at Area 51. He is later
killed by a captured alien. Devlin, who is open to the idea of
bringing Dr. Okun back in the event of a sequel, later implied the
character is merely in a coma. The character's appearance and
verbal style are based upon those of visual effects supervisor
Jeffrey A. Okun, whom Emmerich had worked with on Stargate.
- Harry Connick,
Jr. as Captain Jimmy Wilder: The best
friend of Steve and fellow pilot, killed while fleeing a failed
attack on an alien spacecraft. Connick took over the part for
Matthew Perry, originally cast
in the role.
- Kiersten Warren
as Tiffany: A friend of Jasmine and fellow
stripper. She wants to go up on the U.S. Bank Tower to greet the aliens. Despite Jasmine's
requests to not go, Tiffany does anyway and is one of the first
killed in the destruction of Los Angeles.
The idea for the film came when Emmerich and Devlin were in Europe
promoting their film Stargate
. A reporter asked Emmerich why
he made a movie with content like Stargate
if he did not
believe in aliens. Emmerich stated he was still fascinated by the
idea of an alien arrival, and further explained his response by
asking the reporter to imagine what it would be like to wake up one
morning and discover 15-mile-wide spaceships were hovering over the
largest cities in the world. Emmerich then turned to Devlin and
said "I think I have an idea for our next film."
Emmerich and Devlin decided to expand on the idea by incorporating
a large-scale attack, with Devlin saying he was bothered by the
fact that "for the most part, in alien invasion movies, they come
down to Earth and they're hidden in some back field ...[o]r they
arrive in little spores and inject themselves into the back of
someone's head." Emmerich agreed by asking Devlin if arriving from
across the galaxy, "would you hide on a farm or would you make a
big entrance?" The two wrote the script during a month-long
vacation in Mexico, and just
one day after they sent it out for consideration, 20th Century Fox chairman Peter Chernin
greenlit the screenplay.
Pre-production began just three
days later in February 1995. The United States military
originally intended to provide personnel, vehicles, and costumes
for the film; however, they backed out when the producers refused
to remove the Area
51 references from the script.
A then-record 3,000-plus special effects shots would ultimately be
required for the film. The shoot utilized on-set, in-camera special
effects more often than computer-generated
in an effort to save money and get more authentic
pyrotechnic results. Many of these shots were accomplished at
Hughes Aircraft in Culver City,
California, where the film's art department, motion control photography teams,
pyrotechnics team, and model shop were
The production's model-making department
built more than twice as many miniatures for the production than
had ever been built for any film before by creating miniatures for
buildings, city streets, aircraft, landmarks, and monuments. The
crew also built miniatures for several of the spaceships featured
in the movie, including a 30-foot (9.1 m) destroyer model and a
version of the mother ship spanning . City streets were recreated,
then tilted upright beneath a high-speed camera mounted on a
scaffolding filming downwards. An explosion would be ignited below
the model, and flames would rise towards the camera, engulfing the
tilted model and creating the rolling "wall of destruction" look
seen in the film. A model of the White House was also created, covering by , and was used in
forced-perspective shots before being destroyed in a similar
fashion for its own destruction scene.
The detonation took a
week to plan and required 40 explosive charges.
The aliens in the film were designed by production designer
. The actual
aliens of the film are diminutive and based on a design Tatopoulos
drew when tasked by Emmerich to create an alien that was "both
familiar and completely original". These creatures wear
"bio-mechanical" suits that are based on another design Tatopoulos
pitched to Emmerich. These suits were tall, equipped with 25
tentacles, and purposely designed to show it could not sustain a
person inside so it would not appear to be a "man in a suit".
July 1995 in New York City. A second unit gathered plate shots and
establishing shots of Manhattan,
Washington D.C., an RV community in Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Very Large Array on the Plains of
San Agustin, New
Mexico. The main crew also filmed in nearby Cliffside
Jersey before moving to the former Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana,
California to film the post-attack Los Angeles
sequences. The production then moved to Wendover,
Utah and West Wendover, Nevada, where the deserts doubled for Imperial
Valley and the Wendover Airport doubled for the El Toro and Area 51
It was here where Pullman filmed his pre-battle
speech. Immediately before filming the scene, Devlin and Pullman
decided to add "Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!" to the
end of the speech. At the time, the production was nicknamed "ID4"
because Warner Bros.
owned the rights
to the title Independence Day
, and Devlin had hoped if Fox
executives noticed the addition in dailies
the impact of the new dialogue would help them win the rights to
the title. The right to use the title was eventually won two weeks
production team moved to the Bonneville Salt Flats to film three scenes, then returned to California
to film in various places around Los Angeles, including Hughes
Aircraft where sets for the cable company and Area 51 interiors
were constructed at a former aircraft plant.
Sets for the
latter included corridors containing windows that were covered with
blue material. The filmmakers originally intended to use the
technique to make it appear as
if activity was happening on the other side of the glass; but the
were not added to the
final print because production designers decided the blue panels
gave the sets a "clinical look". The attacker hangar set contained
an attacker mock-up wide that took four months to build. The White
House interior sets used had already been built for The American President
previously been used for Nixon
. Principal photography completed on
November 3, 1995.
The movie originally depicted Russell Casse being rejected as a
volunteer for the July 4 aerial counteroffensive because of his
alcoholism. He then uses a stolen missile tied to his red biplane
to carry out his suicide mission. According to Dean Devlin, test
audiences responded well to the scene's irony and comedic value.
However, the scene was re-shot to include Russell's acceptance as a
volunteer, his crash course in modern fighter aircraft, and him
flying an F-18 instead of the bi-plane. Devlin preferred the
alteration because the viewer now witnesses Russell ultimately
making the decision to sacrifice his life, and seeing the biplane
keeping pace and flying amongst F-18s was "just not believable".
The film was officially completed on June 20, 1996.
While the film was still in post-production, 20th Century Fox began
a massive marketing campaign to help promote the film, beginning
with the airing of a dramatic commercial during Super Bowl XXX
, for which Fox paid $1.3
million. The subsequent success of the film at the box office
resulted in the trend of using Super Bowl air time to kick off the
advertising campaign for potential blockbusters.
Licensing and Merchandising division also entered into
co-promotional deals with Apple Inc.
The co-marketing project was dubbed "The
Power to Save the World" campaign, in which the company used
footage of David using his PowerBook
laptop in their print and television advertisements. Trendmasters
entered a merchandising deal with
the film's producers to create a line of tie-in
toys. In exchange for product placement
, Fox also entered into
co-promotional deals with Molson Coors Brewing Company
The movie was marketed with several taglines, including: "We've
always believed we weren't alone. On July 4, we'll wish we were",
"Earth. Take a good look. It could be your last", and "Don't make
plans for August". The weekend before the film's release, the Fox
Network aired a half-hour special on the movie, the first third of
which was a spoof news report on the events that happen in the
film. Roger Ebert
attributed most of the
film's early success to its teaser
and marketing campaigns, acknowledging them as "truly
The shot of the White House's
destruction was the focus of the film's marketing campaign.
A fleeing helicopter was added to the shot in the final
The film had its official premiere held at the now-defunct Mann
Plaza Theater in Los Angeles on June 25, 1996. It was then screened
privately at the White House for President Bill Clinton
and his family before receiving a
nationwide release in the United States on July 2, 1996, a day
earlier than its previously scheduled opening.
Author Stephen Molstad wrote a tie-in
to help promote the film shortly before its release. The novel goes
into further detail on the characters, situations, and overall
concept not explored in the film. The novel presents the finale of
the film as originally scripted, with the character played by
stealing a missile and
roping it to his crop duster biplane. Following the success of the
film, a prequel
Independence Day: Silent Zone
was written by Molstad in
February 1998. The novel is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
and details the early career of Dr. Brackish Okun. Molstad wrote a
third novel, Independence Day: War in the Desert
1999. The novel is both a midquel
to the film. Set in Saudi Arabia on July 3, it centers around Captain Cummins and
Colonel Thompson, the two Royal Air
Force officers seen receiving the Morse
code message in the film.
On August 4, 1996, BBC Radio 1
the one-hour play Independence
, written, produced, and directed by Dirk Maggs
, a spin-off
depicting the alien invasion from
a British perspective. None of the original cast was present. Dean
Devlin gave Maggs permission to produce an original version, on
condition he did not reveal certain details of the movie's plot and
the British were not depicted as saving the day. Independence
was set up to be similar to the 1938 radio broadcast of
The War Of The
; the first 20 minutes were set as being live.
Day video game
was released in February 1997 for the
, and PC
, each version
receiving mostly tepid reviews. The multi-view shooter game
contains various missions to perform, with the ultimate goal of
destroying the aliens' primary weapon. A wireless mobile
version was released in 2005. A computer
game entitled ID4 Online
released in 2000.
After a six-week, $30 million marketing campaign, Independence
was released on VHS
on November 22,
1996. It became available on DVD
on June 27,
2000, and has been re-released on DVD under several different
versions with varying supplemental material ever since, including
one instance where it was packaged with a lenticular cover
. Often accessible on
these versions is a special edition of the film, which features
eight minutes of additional footage not seen in the original
theatrical release. Independence Day
became available on
discs in the United Kingdom on
December 24, 2007, and in North America on March 11, 2008.
was the highest-grossing film of 1996. In
the United States, Independence Day
earned $104.3 million
in its first full week, including $96.1 million during its five-day
holiday opening, and $50.2 million during its opening weekend. All
three figures broke records set by Jurassic Park
three years earlier.
That film's sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic
, claimed all three records when it was released the
following year. Independence Day
stayed in the number one
spot for three weeks, and would gross $306,169,268 in the domestic
market and $510,800,000 in foreign markets during its theatrical
run. The combined total of $816,969,268 once trailed only the
worldwide earnings of Jurassic Park
as the highest of
all-time. It has been surpassed by several 21st century films
since, and currently holds the 22nd highest worldwide gross
movie all-time. Hoping to capitalize in the wake of the film's
success, several studios released more large-scale disaster films
, and the already rising
interest in science fiction-related media was further increased by
the film's popularity.
A month after the film's release, jewelry designers and marketing
consultants reported an increased interest in dolphin
-themed jewelry, since the character of
Jasmine in the film wears dolphin earrings and is presented with a
wedding ring featuring a gold dolphin.
is ranked as "fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes
with a 62% positive rating,
with 33 out of 53 critics giving it positive reviews. It has a
metascore of 59 (based on 18 reviews) on Metacritic. Critics
acknowledged the film had "cardboard" and "stereotypical"
characters, and weak dialogue. The shot of the White House's
destruction has been declared a milestone in visual effects and one
of the most memorable scenes of the 1990s.
of the San Francisco Chronicle
the film his highest rating, declaring it the "apotheosis" of
Schwarzbaum of Entertainment
gave it a B+ for living up to its massive hype,
adding "charm is the foremost of this epic's contemporary
characteristics. The script is witty, knowing, cool." Eight years
later, Entertainment Weekly
would rate the movie as one of
the best disaster movies of all-time. Kenneth Turan
of the Los Angeles Times
felt that the movie
did an "excellent job conveying the boggling immensity of [the]
extraterrestrial vehicles [...] and panic in the streets" and the
scenes of the alien attack were "disturbing, unsettling and
The nationalistic overtones of the film were widely criticized by
foreign reviewers. Movie Review UK
described the film as
"A mish-mash of elements from a wide variety of alien invasion
movies and gung-ho American jingoism
speech in which Whitmore states that victory in the coming war
would see the entire world henceforth describe July 4 as its
independence day, was described as
"the most jaw-droppingly pompous soliloquy ever delivered in a
mainstream Hollywood movie" in a BBC review.
In 2003, readers of the United Kingdom's most popular movie
scene that contained the speech as the "Cheesiest Movie Moment of
All-Time". Conversely, Empire
critic Kim Newman gave the
in the magazine's original review of the
Several prominent critics expressed disappointment with the quality
of Independence Day's
much-hyped special effects.
s David Ansen
claimed the special effects were of
no better caliber than those seen nineteen years earlier in
Todd McCarthy of Variety
felt the production's budget-conscious approach resulted in
"cheesy" shots that lacked in quality relative to the effects
present in films directed by James
and Steven Spielberg
cited a lack of imagination
in the spaceship and creature designs as one of the reasons for his
marginally negative review, and Gene
expressed the same sentiments in their on-air review
Despite this, the movie won the Academy Award for Visual
, beating Twister
. It was also nominated for an
Academy Award for Best
but lost to The
. Composer David Arnold won a Grammy Award
for his work on the film. The
movie also won an Amanda Award
Best Foreign Feature Film. Viewers voted for Independence
to receive an MTV Movie
for Best Kiss, a People's Choice Award
Dramatic Motion Picture, and a Kids' Choice Award for Favorite
Movie. It received Saturn Awards
, and Best Special Effects
The film was awarded Best Film Editing
at the inaugural Golden Satellite Award
The possibility of a sequel had long been discussed, and Devlin
once stated the world's reaction to the September 11th attacks
to strongly consider making a sequel to the film. Devlin began
writing an outline for a script with Emmerich, but in May 2004,
Emmerich said he and Devlin had attempted to "figure out a way how
to continue the story", but that this ultimately did not work, and
the pair abandoned the idea. In October 2009, Emmerich said he once
again had plans for a sequel, and has since considered the idea of
making two sequels to form a trilogy.
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Claire. Retrieved on October 1, 2007.
- Analysis: Super Bowl Movie Ads Lack Luster
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Day The online Macinstuff Times. Retrieved on July 8,
Ten: Most Shameless Uses Of Product Placement In Film
movie-moron.com. Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
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atthemovies.tv. Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
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Amazon.com. Retrieved on October 8, 2007.
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