Although it was not clear what the argument was, what was evident is that this time the visitors from outer space were not harmless. But while many other films bet on fear or curiosity about the alien encounter, Emmerich decided that his movie would be a battle.
And not an ideological, culturally relevant one or a search for intellectual answers. It would be a peculiarly cheesy kind of subversion of the usual tropes to create a goal: the amusement. Independence Day was born as a celebration of American ideals taken to a new dimension.
In an almost naive way, the director created an epic in which America would become an action hero. Reinventing the classic of War of the Worlds for a generation dazzled by the visual.
Emmerich decided to turn the first great encounter between the human and the alien into a catastrophe. As if that wasn’t enough, he based the effectiveness of the entire proposal on provoking a sense of astonished horror. The first images of the film They showed all the great symbols of American power devastated, devastated by some kind of violent phenomenon.
And in fact, several of the promotional resources made it clear that the film would show a colossal confrontation. “We have always believed that we were not alone. On July 4, we wish we had been. ” But the premise, not at all original and that after reaching the screen raised criticism for being nationalist and coarse, it worked.
With its rudimentary plot, large-scale special effects, and nothing short of absurd ending, it marked a milestone in entertainment cinema. Emmerich found a way to tell the well-known story about two civilizations in dispute from an attractive angle. It was that perception that transformed Independence Day in the blockbuster par excellence.
‘Independence Day’, the total threat on an unsuspecting world
Independence Day it’s not a great movie. What it really is, is the dean of all the arguments based on spectacularity to create a successful look at the science fiction genre. Emmerich had no pretense of creating a reactionary pamphlet, pondering fear, or even sending a message about the unknown. The director only wanted to show the modern paranoia about the invincible enemy to a thunderous dimension.
It also achieves this by showing the alien invasion from a certain coldness which is violent. Emmerich’s ships appear over the main cities of the world, and the script focuses on his first hour in analyzing fear. It was actually a clever device that allowed the director to innovate with a battery of special effects integrated into the visual space in a powerful way.
While Steven Spielberg had delivered an optimistic message about alien encounters, Emmerich toyed with the idea of a disaster movie to use. In fact, the film plays with the atmosphere of the threat from its first minutes.
The rules of an apocalyptic event are the same as in the classics about earthquakes and deadly fires. Emmerich made good use of them and, unlike most of the movies about alien attacks in the cinema, he works them to his advantage.
The invisible danger
Something gigantic, inevitable and potentially deadly is coming. The ships do not wish to communicate, there is not a single glance at the aliens. As if that’s not enough, the rudimentary script takes the audacity to play with popular culture. The danger grows suffocating as the world watches. Independence Day He knew he wasn’t creating anything new, but he took the known and led to an interesting look at collective paranoia.
And the impending disaster is seen through the eyes of its exceptional witnesses. From David Levinson’s (Jeff Goldblum) deductive coldness about the alien attack, to the American symbol embodied by Will Smith’s Steven Hiller.
The movie is structured to build a premise based on tension. Time is ticking and Emmerich decided not to be subtle. The character of Goldblum becomes the way in which the passage of time is understood. And as it does so, the film managed to innovate a powerful idea. The inevitable on a colossal scale in the middle of an almost apocalyptic scenario.
At the same time, the secondary characters show domestic panic, the claustrophobic feeling that it is impossible to escape. Emmerich played his cards well and relativized the idea of danger into experience. At the White House, Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) plays The sweetest and most cliche version of the good American boy, but also to power.
And Emmerich, who also tries to make it clear that what is to come far exceeds any known weapon and strategy, decides that the US would be the victim. He does this by elaborating a detailed scenario and showing point by point how the impending attack arrives in a wave of fire.
When the clock on David Levinson’s laptop reaches zero, it is clear that the movie reached its highest point. And for better or for worse, he is about to make history.
The decaffeinated patriot
One of the main criticisms of Independence Day it is the basic fact that it is a film of gigantic ambition with crazy ideas. But despite that, Emmerich managed to make the unlikely mix not only work, but also hold up skillfully.
That, despite the fact that the second section of the film is much less effective than the first. With no secrets to keep and tension diluted in front-line effects, the storyline progresses to chaos. To that should be added one of the most ridiculous conclusions in the history of science fiction. But by then the film has already done its job.
With its landscape of devastated historical and symbolic monuments, cities burned to ashes and heroic survivors, Independence Day then shines with fatuous glory. And it is the almost innocent celebration of the world’s unlikely triumph against the violent threat. Independence Day it was one of the first great action movies in which fun is the goal. And although there is an unquestionable political undertone, it is so diluted in the simplicity of its argument that it is harmless.
Emmerich has often said that his film was not intended to lecture, but to “create a sense of the monumental.” And he was not wrong. Turned into a marketing phenomenon, it was created as a commercial object. But beyond that, it was the first film to shamelessly celebrate the American hero of popular culture. The one destined to save the world on the most important day of your national calendar.
Could the obvious imperialism of Independence Day survive today? Its 2016 sequel was a flop and showed that the formula was worn out. But even so, the film survives as a relic of a type of cinema unthinkable today. Perhaps its greatest merit.