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Monday, July 04, 2011

Monday Matinee - Independence Day

Hello, blog readers!  I just wanted to start off by wishing any American readers out there a happy 4th of July!

The 4th of July is a very important holiday for those who live in the United States of America.  It happens to be their independence day.  This year marks the 235th birthday of the U.S.A. and for most American citizens, it's an excuse to celebrate all things American.  Baseball games, barbecues, fireworks.  It's a fair assessment to see many of these things present as America celebrates its independence day.

Therefore, it almost seems out there in a sense for the 4th of July to be associated with spaceships, aliens, and worldwide destruction.  Almost.

Independence Day 1996, however, proved differently (well, in a fictional sense anyways).

On July 2, 1996, the movie Independence Day was released in theatres.  The original release date was supposed to have been the following day, but due to the hoopla and the buzz surrounding the film, some theatres opted for an earlier release.

And why wouldn't people be excited about it?  Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film made a total of over $800 million and as of July 4, 2011, it is the 27th highest grossing movie of all-time. 

It's been fifteen years since the movie was released, so I am only in assumption that the majority of you who are reading this blog entry know what the movie is about.  For those of you that do not though, here's the Cliff's Notes version.  At the beginning of July, a fleet of speceships led by one massive mother ship enter the Earth's atmosphere.  There are thirty-six in total that are positioned all over the world, but in this film, we only see three.  One in Los Angeles, one in New York City, and one in Washington D.C.

(Apparently Chicago, Dallas, and Miami were deemed not worthy enough to be shown being invaded.)

Anyway, in New York, David Levinson (played by Jeff Goldblum) discovers transmissions coming from the aliens which he thinks is a countdown to a global attack.  He tries to head to Washington D.C. to warn President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) about the attacks.

Meanwhile, the alien presence wreaks havoc in the cities where the alien saucers are located.  Television signals get jammed, and people who believe that the aliens have come in peace celebrate their arrival, not aware of the danger that they are about to face.

Levinson makes it to D.C. just in time to warn the president, and they board Air Force One just as the aliens launch their attack.

The ensuing attack completely destroys New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, as well as other cities around the world, and as dawn breaks on July 3, the loss of life is staggering.

There are some survivors.  Hiller's girlfriend and her young son take cover inside a freeway tunnel, and they happen to find the First Lady, clinging to life after her helicopter went down in the attacks.  Hiller is sent to an area outside of the destroyed Los Angeles to launch a wave of attacks against the aliens.  During the course of the attack, he manages to capture one of the alien pilots and with help from a refugee group, finds out why the aliens have attacked Earth.  The alien species travel from planet to planet, to drain the planet's resources before moving on to the next planet.  They did not come in peace, as some people had believed before they were fried.  Instead, they came to destroy.

And that was something that the surviving people of Earth would not let happen.

I don't really need to go on any further with this.  This movie is a classic tale of good versus evil, set in a science-fiction world where the Santa Monica beach erodes and the Empire State Building goes up like a roman candle.

The one thing I would like to talk about in regards to this film is how a huge group of people, who could not be more different from each other personality wise, comes together in the face of tragedy.

Now, granted...the odds of aliens hovering over our planet to turn our major cities into a gigantic stir-fry are astronomically high.  Not saying that it can NEVER be possible, as none of us really ever know if there is life elsewhere on Earth, but for the sake of argument, let's just say that it won't be happening today.  The point is that in the face of disaster, it's nice to know that people can put aside their differences to reach a common goal, and really, shouldn't we all feel that way?

I mean, let's look at the characters.  You have David, who can best be described as the computer nerd type.  You have Captain Hiller, a brash and fearless fighter pilot who doesn't know the meaning of the word afraid.  It seems highly unlikely that the two of them would so much as acknowledge each other if they ran into each other in the middle of Times Square.  But once Times Square was blown up by the aliens, and the two had to work together to fight them, they actually made a decent team, who ended up becoming heroes as a result.

You could say the same about the scenes in the nuked Los Angeles between Hiller's girlfriend Jasmine, and the First Lady.  By all appearances, the First Lady was a demure, sophisticated lady.  Contrast that to Jasmine, who worked as an exotic dancer, and whose exotic dancer friends ended up getting zapped by the aliens during the attack.  But when the First Lady suffered serious injury, Jasmine was there for her.  Jasmine's quick thinking also managed to save the lives of herself, her son, and their dog during the attacks. 

So, I guess if there's one lesson that we can learn from this movie, it's that we really shouldn't go up on top of a skyscraper to greet foreign flying objects, because otherwise, you may end up being cremated. 

More importantly though, if there's anything we can learn, it's that in times of crisis, we all need to stand by each other and support each other in order to approach a common goal.  Whether it be raising money to stop a hospital from being closed, or rebuilding a town that was torn apart by a tornado, or helping find shelter for those who have lost everything in a natural disaster, people can achieve more on a united front, and get more accomplished.

Maybe this speech from the fictional President Whitmore might explain things better than I can.

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