The title of the movie Independence Day (1996) makes no sense to me. A country gains independence when:

  1. It was depending on some other country (being ruled by another country).
  2. It becomes sovereign, freeing itself from the rule of a foreign country.

The movie "Independence Day" has absolutely nothing to do with independence beside the fact that the last counter-attack by humans against the alien invaders happened to occur on the 4th of July (i.e. the American Independence Day).

Anyway, as I understand it when an enemy state invades your country and you defeat them and send them back home then that doesn't mean that you gained independence. It just means that you successfully protected yourself. Now, if the enemy state successfully invaded your country and enforced their own law upon you and then you sent them back home then yes, you gained independence. However, as I currently see it that's not what happened in the movie.

My argument is that you can't gain independence if you never depended on something. In the movie the humans certainly didn't depend upon the aliens. Hence, it makes no sense for them to commemorate an "Independence Day".

Anyway, I know that Stack Exchange answers shouldn't be primarily opinion-based. I've been using Stack Exchange for a very long time now. Hence, here's my objective question:

What's the justification for commemorating the 4th of July as a worldwide "Independence Day" in the movie? Did Roland Emmerich or Dean Devlin ever give an official explanation why?

This question has been bothering me for a long time now. Especially since I saw the new movie trailer.

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    You make it seem like there needs to be a more complicated reason other than "America F Yeah!"
    – cde
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 7:21
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    "To me, it just seems like inflated American ego boosting." At which point you answer your own question. The BBC recently had an article about American exceptionalism - the belief that the USA is uniquely better than anywhere else and is beyond criticism. Although FWIW we probably would all be celebrating the aliens getting a kicking, given that it's an existential threat to the human race.
    – Graham
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 12:13
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    Well, why is that surprising? 99% of the scenes in the movie are in the United States. All of the characters are American. They can't coordinate with other countries very well due to the aliens disrupting world-wide communications. The President of the United States gives a rousing speech to American military personal and American civilians in order to boost morale before a very big, very important battle. Wouldn't it be odd if he started referencing, say, Cambodian cultural in his speech? His audience would have no idea what he's talking about.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 17:39
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    "...you can't gain independence if you never depended on something." That's probably taking the root-words of "independence" too literally; as you note, independence has to do with a country freeing itself from being ruled by another country, which is typically not the same as "depending on" that country. Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 19:15
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    @Graham If that's how the BBC defined American Exceptionalism, then they've erected a magnificent straw man so that they could burn it down. AE is based on the idea that the circumstances of the founding of the US on certain principles led to a qualitatively different sort of government never seen before. Any country that can embrace those principles can partake in that exceptionalism. Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 20:32

3 Answers 3


The 4th of July holiday in America is called Independence Day, celebrating the day the Thirteen Colonies made themselves a new nation, free from the British.

So from a historical point of view, it's quite logical whilst the national holiday is called Independence Day.

However, in the film they twist this a little. Consider the president's rousing speech towards the end of the film:

Perhaps it's fate that today, July the Fourth, we will once again fight for our freedom. Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression. But from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist. From this day on, the fourth day of July will no longer be remembered as an American holiday but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We will live on. We will survive.

So the President here is referring to Independence Day as primarily symbolising the day the fight for America's freedom was won. He then relates it to their current situation by showing how they're no longer fighting for freedom, but to avoid annihilation. But his point is, it's still a fight.

However this time, it's not American's fight against the British, but the world's fight against invaders - so when they win, the world can celebrate the day together, because the world will have been saved.

Of course, it doesn't quite make sense for it to be called Independence Day, as they're not independent of anything as you correctly surmise. However, given how the President relates it to the existing Independence Day coupled with the fact these events are occurring on 4th July, it makes sense that he is inviting the world to celebrate winning the fight on that day.

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    Its all very inspiring .... for us Americans.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 14:50
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    "But his point is, it's still a fight." Such an insightful observation :)
    – MPeti
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 15:41
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    @PreferenceBean - Yup. There was a legit point that the US has the most advanced airframes, so they'd have the best shot at putting up a fight, so maybe that's why everyone was waiting for them. They kinda undercut that argument by having one ship blown up by a hick in a cropduster though...
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:12
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    @PreferenceBean - Perhaps not pure chance. The USA does appear to be the UFO Capital of the World. I'm not sure why the aliens find our country so facinating, but numbers don't lie. ;-)
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:21
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    @T.E.D.: The plumper the pudding, the tastier the treat? :D Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 16:48

In the movie,aliens have destroyed most cities of world and mankind's best weapon is the will to survive. I think the survival of humans in this movie is called 'Independence'

Here is what Wiki has to say about your question justification for commemorating the 4th of July as a worldwide "Independence Day":

With the successful implantation of the virus, Whitmore leads the attack against an alien destroyer approaching Area 51. Although the force field is deactivated and the fighters are able to inflict damage, the hull of the destroyer is too big to inflict serious damage. As a result, the fighter's supply of missiles quickly becomes exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, Casse has one missile left, but it jams. He decides to fly his plane directly into the alien weapon in a kamikaze attack, which kills him but destroys it. The Americans inform resistance forces around the world about how to destroy the alien ships. The nuclear device destroys the alien mothership as Hiller and Levinson escape unharmed back to Earth. The whole world then celebrates its heroes' victory as well as its true 'Independence Day'.


The movie is a summary of the events that transpires on the day of American Independence; when an army of Alien beings attack the planet looking for a new habitat. The defenders of planet earth fight valiantly to save humanity from extinction and win back their independence from their evil counterparts of the galaxy. Hence, the title aptly describes the plot of the movie.

  • 2
    Hi Ruika, while this answer is correct, it doesn't seem to add anything to the already accepted answer. In the future, please post an answer only if you disagree with previous answers or if you have anything to add to those. You can also add to previous answers by posting your thoughts as a comment.
    – Tom
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 14:28

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