I like to watch certain movies around the holidays we celebrate: Home Alone at Christmas, Planes, Trains and Automobiles at Thanksgiving, Ed Wood for Halloween.
So this July 4th, I decided to watch Independence Day. This film was released in 1996, a time when threats to America were seen as coming from space. The film’s stellar cast portrays the heroes whose collective strengths save the planet’s residents from certain extermination.
Will Smith plays the fighter pilot stationed near Los Angeles, who has a dream of working for NASA.
Bill Pullman is the President, a man with integrity, who doesn’t disappear when the nation is gripped by fear and uncertainty.
Jeff Goldblum has made his character endearing as the computer whiz with a passion for saving the planet, always recycling aluminum cans and commenting on the unwise use of Styrofoam cups.
Randy Quaid is a Vietnam vet now crop dusting in California. He is not ashamed to admit that aliens abducted him a few years ago, and his three children, no mother in sight, love him despite this story that brings ridicule to their family.
The cast of characters around these four are so fully developed, the story is less about battles as it is about seeing how they react in times of stress and danger. Their lives come together to find a solution to successfully vanquish the aliens. The alien species attacking major cities around the globe has been traveling from one Earth-like planet to the next, consuming all their natural resources and moving on.
This film is a drama, an action adventure, and science fiction all rolled into one, with doses of levity and humor to ease the intensity. It is also a patriotic movie. We see the Earth floating like a fragile ornament in our Milky Way in the opening scene, and the planet comes together in a unified effort to save it. This is just the action we need now in order to sustain the Earth and its inhabitants, and not just the human ones. We don’t have the option to go to some other planet like Earth, if one even exists, when we’ve used up all our natural resources.
In 1776 the American colonies formally declared themselves free and independent of Britain. Independent means to not be dependent on or controlled by another person or thing, to not be influenced by others in one’s ideas or conduct, and to be unwilling to be under an obligation to others. On this Independence Day, I’m reflecting on how myself personally, and our nation as a whole, lives up to that definition. Perhaps Independence Day will inspire you to do the same, and you'll have a whole lot of fun in the process.