Independence Day (1996)


PG-13 | 2h 25min

Director: Roland Emmerich

Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum 

by Jason Koenigsberg


In July of 1996, Independence Day exploded onto movie screens, breaking records, making Will Smith an international box office star and showcasing the most state of the art and awe-inspiring special effects of its time by blowing up massive US landmarks. This was the highest grossing film of 1996 and has earned a place as a modern sci-fi action classic. With Independence Day: Resurgence right around the corner, what better time than now to look back and re-watch one of the biggest hits from twenty years ago. Independence Day comes from a very different era of summer blockbuster entertainment. A time before terrorism when watching mass death and destruction of national monuments was a new form of entertainment and something that people never fathomed could happen in real life. 9/11 obviously changed all of that and by doing so, Independence Day has an innocence to it from a simpler time during the Bill Clinton 90’s when it seemed that devastation of that magnitude was something that could only happen in the fantasy of cinema. 

Independence Day stands as a film from its time, a relic of a former era, yet one that also has a timeless quality because it can still be enjoyed today. The prominent theme of mankind putting their differences aside and joining together to fight an alien invasion with seemingly impossible odds because of their superior technology still resonates. The scene of an Israeli soldier and an Arab coming together still holds weight today as something the human race should strive for. This movie took Gene Roddenberry’s themes from Star Trek and put them in the twentieth century. Even though Independence Day would go down in history as making Will Smith a star, it was actually Bill Pullman’s acting as the President of the United States which was the films best performance and should have earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His motivational speech before the humans launched the final attack to defend Earth against the aliens remains one of the best of recent cinema and the defining moment of Pullman’s career. They use pieces of it in every promotional ad for Independence Day: Resurgence. 

Independence Day is currently available to stream on HBO GO and you can watch Bill Pullman’s iconic speech below which captures the optimistic theme of the film and the best of the human spirit. 

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