Music Break: Independence Day (1996) patriotic score by David Arnold

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!! Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend, wherever you are.

I went up north for a couple of days for a quick weekend getaway and went kayaking around Apostle Islands near Bayfield, WI. On the drive back we listened to the Art of the Score, one of my favorite music podcasts out of Australia and in this episode, they discussed James Bond soundtracks, particularly the later ones by British composer David Arnold. Well, I have to admit I became familiar with Arnold’s work because of his astounding work in Casino Royale (2006), which stands as one of my all time favorite scores (not just for a Bond movie). But then the two hosts Andrew Pogson & Dan Golding talked about Arnold’s filmography and they mentioned Independence Day as one of his most famous work.

ID4 white house explosion

Serendipitously enough, I had just watched like the last half hour or so of ID4 on TV as it happened to be playing on TV in my hotel!

I actually left the end credits rolled before switching the channel and I forgot just how enjoyable the score was, but I didn’t look up the composer. Well since today happens to be America’s birthday, I thought it’s a perfect time to highlight ID4’s score! Let’s start with this one which is a terrific score that perfectly complements one of the most memorable presidential speech in movie history (spoken by Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), one of my top five favorite American presidents in the movies!):

This one is appropriately defiant and patriotic, which has a bit of Superman theme touches in there, another highly patriotic movie involving aliens, ahah.

Independence Day Music Trivia:

  • David Arnold-composerThe score won a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television. Per Wiki, it was recorded with an orchestra of 90, a choir of 46, “and every last ounce of stereotypical Americana he could muster for the occasion”.

    The film’s producer Dean Devlin commented that “you can leave it up to a Brit to write some of the most rousing and patriotic music in the history of American cinema.” 

  • Per IMDb Trivia, according to the liner notes from the recent La La Land Records limited release of the complete score by David Arnold, the drum rhythm heard during the invasion scenes near the beginning of the film are Morse Code letters D-I-E.

  • Struggling to write the score, David Arnold secluded himself in a Los Angeles hotel room for almost four months to avoid the escalating hype for the film. But from his window he saw helicopters carrying banners with taglines to the film as part of a marketing campaign, which only stressed him out even more.

Here are two more tracks from the movie to make it an even four:

Even 25 years later, I think ID4 remains one of the go-to movie to watch on July 4th, which is crazy the fact that per IMDb trivia, director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin got the idea for the film while fielding a question about the existence of alien life during promotion for Stargate (1994). A reporter asked Emmerich why he made a film with content like that if he did not believe in aliens. Emmerich stated he was still fascinated by the idea of an alien arrival, and further explained his response by asking the reporter to imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning and discover fifteen mile-wide spaceships were hovering over the world’s largest cities. Emmerich then turned to Devlin and said, “I think I have an idea for our next film.” They penned the script in four weeks. It was sent out on a Thursday, and they started fielding offers the next day. By Monday, they were in pre-production. 

will smith - jeff goldblum

It made a star out of Will Smith and he + Jeff Goldblum made a pretty fun duo! Of course, given its massive success, a sequel was inevitable, but I still have not seen Independence Day: Resurgence and probably never will.


Hope you enjoyed this music break! What’s YOUR favorite patriotic movie?