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Independence Day
Album Cover Art
1996 RCA/BMG
2000 Bootleg
Album 2 Cover Art
2010 La-La Land
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Conducted and Orchestrated by:
Nicholas Dodd

2010 Album Produced by:
Nick Redman
Mike Matessino
Labels Icon
BMG Classics/RCA Victor
(July 2nd, 1996)

World Records 006
(Sample Bootleg)
(August, 2000)

La-La Land Records
(April 27th, 2010)
Availability Icon
The original 1996 commercial album was a regular U.S. release, but went badly out print by the end of the decade. The pressed bootleg of 2000 was the sixth in a series of "World Records" bootlegs available only in small quantities through soundtrack specialty outlets at the time of its release for between $30 and $40. Several other bootlegs were compiled by fans afterwards, including some that were more complete. The 2010 2-CD set from La-La Land was limited to 5,000 copies and sold through the same specialty outlets for $30. A large majority of its pressing was sold within the first two months of its release.
Winner of a Grammy Award.
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Decorative Nonsense
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on either the outstanding 2010 2-CD set or any of the score's previously bootlegged forms if you seek a truly balanced presentation of this spectacular action and science fiction achievement.

Avoid it... if the blatantly patriotic tone of David Arnold's major action pieces is so outrageously and obnoxiously heroic in every stereotypical sense that you cannot enjoy the score's arguably superior, softer, more compelling parts.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 6/17/10
ID4: Independence Day: (David Arnold) If you doubt that anticipation alone can sell a non-franchise film as a blockbuster long before its release date, then study what 20th Century Fox accomplished with Independence Day. The film itself was mediocre, just as all of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's early productions turned out to be, but it became a classic disaster staple due to its revolutionary special effects, a likable performance by Will Smith, and a tendency to bloat every aspect of its production to overblown levels. Starting with the Super Bowl and the film Broken Arrow early in 1996, Fox pushed trailers showing the fiery destruction of the White House (a compelling image given that it was a presidential election year and the public still enjoyed a desensitized pre-9/11 mindset) and other landmarks. Each successive trailer teased out more incredible special effects shots of immense destruction, often to glorious accompaniment by the popular theme from Hans Zimmer's Crimson Tide. A monumentally effective marketing campaign by Fox included black helicopters flying over Los Angeles with banners announcing the end of the world on the premier date. With a story full of as many preposterous loopholes as that by Devlin and Emmerich, seeing the spectacular annihilation of the cities of the United States, primarily, was the main attraction of Independence Day. Like any good science fiction invasion flick (and especially one modeled as a tribute to Irwin Allen's natural disaster favorites of the 1970's), Independence Day didn't require the nasty-looking aliens to have any reason for choosing Earth as their next target. Nor was there any reason to shy away from melodramatic deaths, a poke or two at the pious, and noisy and blatant patriotism at its flag-waving best. Contributing to the overbearing noise factor was David Arnold's epic, Grammy-winning score for the film, recorded with 90 players, a 46-member choir, relatively new 24-bit recording technology, and every last ounce of stereotypical Americana he could muster for the occasion. Devlin once commented on the apparent fact 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." Indeed, the score is not only among the most obvious fanfares representing American culture in the modern age (or perhaps ever), it has also proven to be Arnold's most memorable and popular career film scoring achievement.

Along with his striking opening cues for Devlin and Emmerich's Stargate in 1994, Independence Day caused many film music collectors to speculate that Arnold could be the long-awaited replacement for the maestro, John Williams. Ironically, Williams would replace Arnold for 2000's The Patriot and, outside of some highly varied, but occasionally outstanding music for the James Bond franchise, Arnold's career in film scoring never soared as expected (in part due to his endeavors in the production of various song recordings). Still, the high quality of the music for Independence Day, regardless of how obnoxious it can potentially be outside of context, was proof that Arnold's previous two major scores, Last of the Dogmen and Stargate, were not flukes. In retrospect, everyone affiliated with the film remarks about how smoothly its production went, including Arnold. Devlin and Emmerich knew immediately what they wanted for the film: huge bravado with transparent, frequent thematic references. They had temped the film extensively with James Horner's Apollo 13, an exceedingly popular score at the time that happened to fit nicely with both the patriotic and militaristic needs of Independence Day. Arnold was also instructed very clearly on what thematic identities to place where, eliminating much of the guess work in attribution for the composer. He did find the composition of the themes quite challenging (with the exception of the aliens' motif, which oddly came to him in a dream), pressured by the hype of the film's pre-release media blitz in a way he did not experience again until Casino Royale. Interestingly, however, some doubts about the score's originality have been raised through the years. A lawsuit was reportedly leveled against Fox and Arnold by a composer named Terry Herald, who claimed (with some merit) that a theme in the Independence Day score was lifted directly from his 1991 television documentary Air Force One: The Planes and the Presidents. The same reports indicate that Herald was paid off in a settlement, and given that such legal troubles are usually mopped up quietly, there's a definite possibility that all of these circumstances are true. That scenario led to speculation over time that the lawsuit was responsible for the fact that the Independence Day score never received a deserved, legitimate, expanded album release despite significant demand (until 2010).

Regardless of the inspiration for the score (which Arnold claims came to him after much toil and frustration in a Los Angeles hotel room), the composer very successfully tackled the assignment with the same ferocious patriotism and sense for Americana as the vigorous plot. No plug remained un-pulled for Independence Day, with all the snare-ripping, wild piccolos, blaring trumpets, and cooing choral elements necessary for such a story. The precise orchestration of constantly overlapping lines (a true introduction to the talents of orchestrator and conductor Nicholas Dodd) and the enthusiasm in the ensemble's performances are the reason why Independence Day is much more sophisticated than just a loud mess of noise. Grumpier critics denounced it because of its sheer volume, but the robust structures in the work are intelligent enough to satisfy those who might usually avoid such elevated volume. For all of its bravado, Arnold's work here is surprisingly well developed and complicated in its handling of the three primary themes. Given that the original commercial album was arranged with most of the banging and clanging action music as the emphasis of the presentation, fans may write off Independence Day too quickly, a problem only rectified in part by widespread bootlegs that dominated the market for the score during the 2000's and, finally, a much heralded, 2010 official expansion from La-La Land Records. Arnold has confessed to being more personally fond of the score's sensitive interludes as well, gravitating the majority of his own mental effort towards capturing the right balance of personal appeal and majestic atmosphere for the film's many tender character interactions. The three primary themes developed in Independence Day are extremely well integrated, often blurring the lines between the two that represent mankind. The first and most obvious one is the hopelessly optimistic and grandiose, patriotic brass theme that sometimes extends to the high woodwinds. The "End Titles" suite offers a strong presentation of all three ideas, but this primary theme opens and closes that suite with all the flair you can imagine for an upbeat fanfare. This idea is keenly provided in slower, darker hints, often by soloists, in the first half of the score. When humanity starts fighting back, however, the theme's more expansive performances define not only America's struggle, but that of the entire world. In the trio of adjoining cues from "Dad's a Genius" to "Alien Ship Powers Up" and the popular "International Code," this theme gains a sudden burst of momentum that launches it to its numerous explosive performances in the twenty minutes of straight action material late in the film.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.08 Stars
***** 2,402 5 Stars
**** 1,433 4 Stars
*** 690 3 Stars
** 280 2 Stars
* 246 1 Stars
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FVSR Reviews Independence Day
Brendan Cochran - July 11, 2016, at 10:12 a.m.
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Independence Day: Limited Edition (2CD-set)
cc971751 - April 24, 2010, at 4:05 a.m.
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Newest: February 16, 2011, at 4:26 p.m. by
Richard Kleiner

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Original 1996 Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 50:39
• 1. 1969 - We Came in Peace (2:04)
• 2. S.E.T.I. - Radio Signal (1:52)
• 3. The Darkest Day (4:13)
• 4. Cancelled Leave (1:45)
• 5. Evacuation (5:47)
• 6. Fire Storm (1:23)
• 7. Aftermath (3:35)
• 8. Base Attack (6:11)
• 9. El Toro Destroyed (1:30)
• 10. International Code (1:32)
• 11. The President's Speech (3:10)
• 12. The Day We Fight Back (4:58)
• 13. Jolly Roger (3:15)
• 14. End Titles (9:08)
2000 World Records Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 99:14
2010 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 129:05

Notes Icon
The insert of the 1996 commercial album contains a note from producer Dean Devlin. The bootleg contains no extra packaging and most variants feature extremely poor English. The insert of the 2010 complete set contains extensive information about the production background of the score, mostly through interviews with Arnold and Devlin, but it is surprisingly lacking any satisfying analysis of the music itself.

A complete list of cues remixed from their original film edits for their presentation on the original album and subsequent bootlegs includes the following:

• "Prologue" or "1969 - We Came in Peace"
• "S.E.T.I. Radio Signal"
• "Cancelled Leave"
• "Evacuation/Firestorm"
• "The Day We Fight Back" or "Lift Off/Mothership/Rebellion"
• "Jolly Roger"
• "End Credits"

In a 1999 interview, David Arnold said the following about this score:

"Independence Day was my fourth film. I'd already done Last of the Dogmen, which was quite quick. Independence Day was still done while I was working in a little hotel room in Los Angeles. Not particularly glamorous. We had quite a sizable budget for it. The movie was a lot more expensive, and I've got no idea how much we spent. I know it's quite a lot, but then with Independence Day you're looking at a choir and a ninety piece orchestra, 90 and 100 minutes of music! It felt kind of effortless in a way. There was a real flow to that one, and you never found yourself tapping your fingers."
Copyright © 1996-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Independence Day are Copyright © 1996, 2000, 2010, BMG Classics/RCA Victor, World Records 006 (Sample Bootleg), La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 6/17/10.
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