Independence Day is a celebration of the birth of our nation. Each year we celebrate with fireworks, picnics and parades. The Fourth of July is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and friends and rekindle that sense of patriotism and the following movies can help do just that. Each has its own unique flavor but still embodies the concepts and principles on which this country was first founded.
“Independence Day” was the number 1 grossing film of 1996 and surprisingly so with its story of an alien invasion of Earth that takes place just before Independence Day. The science fiction disaster film featured Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Randy Quaid, Harry Connick, Jr. and a host of others. The Roland Emmerich directed film follows a group of disparate individuals as they stage a counter attack against the alien forces on July 4th.
“Born on the Fourth of July” is the biopic of Ron Kovic, a young man wounded during the Vietnam War. Paralyzed by his injuries, Kovic becomes an outspoken anti-war and human rights activist after feeling the country he fought for betrayed him and other veterans. Oliver Stone won the Best Director Academy Award for the 1989 film and star Tom Cruise earned his first nomination as Best Actor.
“The Patriot” is the story of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French-Indian war which haunts him. The widower is trying to raise his 7 children quietly in rural South Carolina and stay out of the American Revolution. When one of his children is killed by an English cavalry officer, he enlists and heads up a makeshift militia, teaching his men guerilla warfare tactics. The efforts of Martin and his men come at great personal cost but end up helping turn the tide of the war. This 2000 film was also directed by Roland Emmerich and starred Chris Cooper, Heath Ledger and Jason Isaacs.
“Drums Along the Mohawk” is a golden oldie dating back to 1939 starring screen legends Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. The story, which is based on the 1936 novel of the same name by Walter D. Edmonds, follows the lives of the couple, who endure attacks from the British, the Tory and Indians before peace comes to the region.
“1776” is a musical rendering of what it took to be one of the nation’s founding fathers. These great men are shown facing their fears as they undertook the task of writing the Declaration of Independence and leading the country into a new era. It is loaded with terrific music and great performances. The 1972 film starred William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, John Cullum, Ken Howard and Blythe Danner.
“The Crossing” – This retelling of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and the Battle of Trenton is nothing short of brilliant. Desperately low on men, cannons and supplies, Washington risks everything on one last daring attack on the town of Trenton, where more than 1,000 of the feared Hessian mercenaries are garrisoned. But to do that, the army must cross the Delaware to a seemingly hopeless battle that would turn out to be more successful than Washington had ever hoped.
“John Adams” is played to perfection by Paul Giamatti in this 2008 TV miniseries. It follows Adams’ life from 1770 when he defended the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre to his death on the same day as longtime friend Thomas Jefferson on July 4, 1826. This miniseries holds the distinction of having won the most Emmy awards in the miniseries category ever.
“Yankee Doodle Dandy” is a musical biopic of the life of Vaudeville entertainer and song writer George M. Cohan who gave the world such hits as “Give My Regards to Broadway”, “Grand Old Flag” and “Over There.” Chan, who was born on the Fourth of July, had a deeply embedded sense of patriotism which showed in his work. The movie own actor James Cagney the Best Actor Academy Award in 1942. The film won 2 other Academy Awards for its musical score and recording.