When it comes to movie blockbusters, they didn’t come much bigger than Independence Day did back in 1996. With a stellar cast and insane visual effects, it pretty much blew away (pun… intended? Why not?) its competition that summer. It’s kind of astounding that it’s taken until now to get any traction on a sequel, but a sequel we shall have… someday. Probably.
With that in mind, we’ve scoured the internet and sifted through the film’s DVD commentary to find some facts you may or may not have been aware of.
Let’s Talk About That Computer Virus.
Independence Day wasn’t a movie that was really going for scientific accuracy. As an audience, we all fully realize that no man, woman, child, or dog is going to be able to outrun a fireball, much less survive it by hiding in a utility room. There’s no rational explanation for that, but we let it go because, well, movies. When it comes to an actual plot point, however, it’s hard to not notice when something seems off. Which is why more than a number of us were wondering how humans were able to design a computer virus to infect the systems of a race clearly light years ahead of us technologically.
During a Reddit AMA last December, ID4 producer Dean Devlin attempted to explain that away:
“Okay: what Jeff Goldblum’s character discovered was that the programming structure of the alien ship was a binary code. And as any beginning programmer can tell you, binary code is a series of ones and zeroes. What Goldblum’s character did was turn the ones into zeroes and the zeroes into ones, effectively reversing the code that was sent.”
It’s not as if Devlin and his co-writer and ID4 director Roland Emmerich took nearly 20 years to concoct this theory. There’s actually a deleted scene from the movie that explains how modern computers were developed by reverse engineering the technology found on the crashed alien ship in Area 51. Sure, that’s pretty implausible as well, but at least they made the effort.
“Must Go Faster! Must Go Faster!”
If you first saw this movie, heard this line and thought to yourself “that sounds familiar” – well, you’re more right than you think. Yes, that’s the same line Goldblum used in Jurassic Park as Dr. Ian Malcolm. Goldblum didn’t just repeat the line while filming, however. It’s the actual recording from Jurassic Park. The filmmakers loved the line so much, they snuck it into the finished film.
Fighting For The Right Title.
When Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore gave his rousing pre-battle speech near the end of the movie, he wasn’t just rallying the troops against the alien invaders. He was also rallying them against 20th Century Fox’s marketing department.
Devlin and Emmerich were dead set on calling the movie Independence Day from the beginning, but Fox wasn’t having it. This is why the movie was called “ID4” in so much of the promotional material leading up to release. Well, that and Fox didn’t want to have to buy the rights to the title from Warner Bros., who owned them at the time (they had released a movie with the same title back in 1983). According to the movie’s DVD commentary, the filmmakers added the line to the speech in hopes it would encourage the studio to buy the rights.
Robert Loggia Thought He Was Making Airplane!
If you’re going to suggest reference material to an actor, you should probably make sure you get the name of it right. Apparently, Dean Devlin meant to suggest Airport to Robert Loggia, who played General William Grey, but instead named Airplane! as a film he should watch to get into the role. Loggia had a minor fit and thought he was making a spoof movie before everything got smoothed out. Robert Loggia only appears in tangible things like sci-fi disaster movies, arm-wrestling family dramas, and orange juice commercials, you see. He has no love for spoofs, apparently.
James Brown: Alien Fighter
James Brown may have been the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, but let’s not forget the time he saved the world. According to the DVD commentary, the voice of the legendary musician was included in the sound mix when Randy Quaid flew his jet into the alien ship.
Honorable Mention: It’s “Earth”, Not “Earf”.
Come on, guys.