Independence Day

Question: In the scene where the pilots are receiving their initial briefing, the officer in charge is a Lt Colonel, but in a later scene where the alien ship is approaching area 51, he is a captain. Is this the same officer or is this a mistake?

New this month Question: Who is the actor with a beard who plays one of the volunteer pilots in Independence Day?

New this month Answer: I believe you are referring to the tall, hippie looking pilot that shook his head when Cass told his son to get him more coffee during the "crash course" scene. His character or name is not listed in the credits nor on IMDB.


New this month Chosen answer: If you mean Russell Casse (you are too vague for it to be anyone else) the actor's name is Randy Quaid, brother of actor Dennis Quaid. He also appears in Brokeback Mountain.

Question: Several times near the end of the movie, there is a biker type man. He is wearing some Harley Davidson clothing and a black leather cap. He is one of the pilots. He stands out if he is just an extra. Is he anyone famous?

Chosen answer: He is just an extra, who just happens to be in more shots then the other extras. He is not more famous than the other extras.


Answer: In the book of the same name, this man is called "Pig". He was a test pilot during the Vietnam War. He played a crucial role in training the new pilots.

Question: My mistake was corrected by "BocaDavie", but I would appreciate it if someone can clarify the correction on the following points:
1. The alienship is standing still over Area 51. How can it drift several miles away when it's going down?
2. Assuming that the main weapon is in the middle of the alienship, located over Area 51 and the ship is 15 miles in diameter you have about 7.5 miles to each side. Again: how far can the ship drift away?
3. Even if the alienship is half a mile above Area 51 (in the movie seems to be less), when it's going down it should maximally crash at the front of the mountains, but not in the middle of it. Please try to think of an airplane, or better a helicopter, when it's standing still in the air. The downcurve would never reach this far.
I hope I explained my points and they are valid, so a possible recorrection may follow for my mistake to be put back to the mistakes page. Thank you.


Chosen answer: Your mistake was corrected because you assume the alien ship would crash vertically (straight down) after the attack. Just because it's severely damaged, doesn't mean that the ship didn't still have some of its capabilities (propulsion, navigation). The ship may have attempted to go back into orbit or even *land*. Going to your helicopter example... wouldn't the pilot of a damaged or otherwise malfunctioning helicopter try to land the craft safely? Or the ship's propulsion systems were damaged and the aliens had no control of the craft. We simply don't know. Because of all the unknowns, there are too many other equally likely possibilities for the scenario to qualify your entry as a mistake.

JC Fernandez

Question: It's been shown in the film the the aliens are technologically more advanced than us. Then, how come, with all their technology, they were unable to defend themselves from something as simple as a computer virus?


Chosen answer: Its supposed to be an exercise in demonstrating how the aliens underestimated their opponent, but in reality it's merely a convenient plot device.


Question: This question was asked and answered but the answer was unsatisfactory so I am asking the question again. It was asked if it was common for the President and General Grey not to know about area 51 and the answer was given that because of plausible deniability, the President would not need to know about area 51 until the aliens arrive. This answers the question for in the movie but what about in real life? Wouldn't the 2 most powerful people in charge of the military (The President and The General) in real life be made aware of area 51? I can understand if the president is not made aware but I find it hard to believe the General wouldn't know about it.


Chosen answer: General Grey is listed as being Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which does not make him the second-in-command of the military - that position rests with the Secretary of Defense, who, as we see in the film, does know about Area 51. Grey, as Whitmore's primary advisor on all matters (not to be confused with the President's Security Advisor, who, in all likelihood, would be aware of the installation's existence as it would fall directly under his area of concern), would need to be covered by plausible deniability just as much as his boss would. As such, Grey holds what is very much a need-to-know position - with regard to Area 51, he doesn't need to know.


Question: How come with computers and electronic gadgets everywhere they have to use a telegraph to let the world know how to destroy the aliens?

Chosen answer: The aliens had destroyed the satellites orbiting Earth. This meant that the usual hi-tec methods of communication could not be used (as most use satellites now), and a low-tec method had to implemented.


Question: Is it ever stated or hinted at which branch of the military Russell Casse flew for in Vietnam?

Chosen answer: It is never stated or hinted.


Question: Since I have never been in the military this is confusing. Does it make any sense that The President, a former fighter pilot, as well as General Grey would not know about Area 51? I find it hard to believe that Captain Steven Hiller would know about Area 51 but the 2 most powerful men in the U.S. would not.


Chosen answer: Hiller didn't know what Area 51 was, he just knew there was a base nearby, because he flew over it in battle. Recall his exchange with Russell Casse in the desert when they were picking him & the alien up; Casse said there's no base on the map, Hiller said it's there, he just flew over it. The base isn't named at that point by either Casse or Hiller.

Question: What books do Julius and David share?

Chosen answer: Julius doesn't give David a book. He gives him an air sickness bag. David gives him a Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, and a kippah (yarmulke).

Greg Dwyer

Question: When Will Smith is going to the bathroom and says "Jasmine, I think the neighbors are leaving" the vehicle I believe has Wyoming plates on it. Am I correct?

Lucy Shupe

Chosen answer: I believe you are correct. It is a hard to make out, because it goes by so quickly. But it does look like a Wyoming plate. We see a dark design mass in the area where the letters and numbers also appear that looks the cowboy/bucking bronco which distinguishes the Wyoming plate from those of other states.

Michael Albert

Question: When Hiller is leading his squadron for the first air battle against the aliens Jimmy makes a short speech as the "Reverand" - putting on an accent - and talking about how he's sure they'll be successful. Can someone tell me is doing an impersonation of a real life person or is it something unique to the movie and his fellow pilots?

Chosen answer: He seems to be doing an impersonation of Jesse Jackson.


Question: After the B-2 bomber launches the nuclear missile towards the city destroyer, the B-2 is shown to be retreating, yet the nuclear missile is in fact travelling even faster than the B-2. My question is, was the B-2 destroyed when the nuclear missile struck the ship? Did it get out of there in time?


Chosen answer: Cruise missiles fired from a B-2 have a 100 mile range, so it would have escaped.

Grumpy Scot

Question: How did the virus that was uploaded into the mother ship affect all the other ships millions of miles down on earth? also, David said that the virus would last a matter of minutes, yet we see it last considerably longer that a matter of minutes. How can this be?


Chosen answer: The ships are in constant communication, exchanging data, power and so forth, so the virus simply filtered its way along the alien communications network. As for "a matter of minutes", (a) David is estimating and (b) define "a matter of minutes"? Two? Five? Ten? Twenty? No clear figure is given at any point, and the finale sequence of the film takes relatively little time. His statement doesn't seem unreasonable.


Question: What was the motivation behind the alien's genocidal nature and attack on earth?


Chosen answer: They intend to plunder Earth's resources. That's easier to do if they eliminate the population first.


Question: Was Russell Casse really abducted by the aliens at some point in his life?


Chosen answer: There's never any confirmation one way or another in the film. It's established that alien craft have been in the vicinity of Earth since the late forties, presumably scout ships investigating resources, likely level of opposition and so forth, which would quite likely have included a few abductions to establish human physical capabilities. Best we can really say is that it's possible that he was.


Question: It's stated in the film that the aliens want to consume Earth's resources. Wouldn't that be a bit difficult considering they've destroyed nearly all the Earth's cities?


Chosen answer: Depends what they mean by resources. There's plenty of metal, minerals and biological matter that can be harvested from the planet. I doubt the aliens planned on occupying our high-rise office blocks; whether it's a pile of rubble or a pristine building, the same amount of material is there waiting to be collected.

Gary O'Reilly

Question: Surely a mothership as huge as the one depicted in the movie would have some sort of gravitational effect on Earth?


Chosen answer: While that is a possibility, the fact that they don't mention it should not necessarily be interpreted to mean that there wasn't one. They had bigger things to talk about at the time. Of course the power of the effect would also depend on the distance from the earth as gravity is defined as proportional to the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the centers of their masses.


Question: On IMDb, the cast list includes Kimberly Beck, from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter as playing the character listed as 'housewife'. Where exactly can I find her character in the movie?


Chosen answer: Most of the civilians from outside have been brought into the safety of the underground Area 51 facility. Just as the alien destroyer settles over Area 51, at timecode 02:10:10, when Connie, Major Mitchell and some others are the last to run in, they are joined by a blonde woman and her daughter, who scream, and they are the last ones to make it to the elevator. That woman is, I believe, Kimberly Beck.

Super Grover

Question: What's with the President when he meets Dr. Okun, he acts like the doctor smells a lot or something?

Chosen answer: What President Whitmore is reacting to is Dr. Okun's rather eccentric look, to put it mildly - his long hair, out-of-style pants and eyeglasses, etc... Even Dr. Okun comments that they don't get out much.

Super Grover

Question: When Julius and David are in the White House on their way to meet the President, Julius is mentioning he should have worn a tie. He then said he looks like a "schlemiel". What did he mean by this? What is a schlemiel?


Chosen answer: Essentially a shlemiel is a clumsy bungler or an inept person according to the Yiddish on-line dictionary. It's saying since he is not wearing a tie, he looks inept or dopey in that situation.

Zwn Annwn

Question: What are the physical dimensions, if any, of all the enemy ship types? Is there any biological information like height, weight of the enemy beings? I am looking at using this enemy in a fanfic of another show.

Chosen answer: Try This site is devoted to size comparisons of ships and aliens from different shows and movies.

Grumpy Scot

Question: At the beginning of the movie at S.E.T.I. ,while the Asian guy is hitting the golf ball, what is the name of the song playing and who is the band?


Chosen answer: "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by R.E.M.

Stephen Edmonds 1

Question: Why was Will Smith's El Toro Marine unit the only U.S. force engaging the Aliens?

Chosen answer: Most likely because the military "deciders" didn't know what to expect from the aliens and the ship Will Smith's unit attacked was in the least populated area, thus minimizing any potential civilian casualties. They were testing the waters, so to speak, before committing too many resources on a tactic that may prove futile.


Question: What's the building the UFO nuts are on top of; it looks very familiar to a building in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

Chosen answer: Now it's the US Bank tower, the tallest structure in downtown Los Angeles, although at the time of filming I believe it belonged to IBM.


Question: In the special edition there's a lot of mentioning of Randy Quaid's younger son being ill and having to take his medication. It's implied that the mother died of the same illness. What is he ill with?

Chosen answer: The reference to the boy's adrenal cortex, and the few symptoms that appear, sound like Addison's Disease.


Question: What does the phrase "not until the fat lady sings" mean?

Chosen answer: It's an opera reference. The common phrase is, "It's not over until the fat lady sings." Many operatic sopranos (female lead performers with high-toned singing voices) are of large girth. In an opera, the soprano usually sings a dramatic aria just before the big finale. Basically it means that unless every option has run out, there's still hope of succeeding.


Question: This seemed like a couple of mistakes, but I'm not a technology expert: First of all, if the aliens are interfering with Earth's satellites, how are cellphones able to work [so well]? Secondly, how is Dave able to triangulate Connie's position? He sticks some kind of device on his roof, and presumably uses a satellite. Regardless of the satellite problem, I thought triangulation (as the name implies) needed at least three points for determining location.

Chosen answer: Cell phones do not use satellites, they use towers on the ground in each area and land lines to link each area. So as long as the towers and lan lines are still there the cell phones will work. He triangulates her position using a signal from the cell towers on earth, and you do need 3 points, but those points are just 3 towers on earth, no satellites involved.


Question: In the scene where Steve & Jimmy are being chased by the 2 alien fighters, Jimmy says "I'm gonna try something" and his plane rises up. Steve shouts "Jimmy, you cant fake at that speed". Jimmy's plane begins to turn to the left and drift sideways before he eventually gets shot down. What maneuver was Jimmy trying to do & why did he start to have trouble breathing when he attempted this?

Chosen answer: He doesn't say you can't "fake" at that speed. He says you can't "bank" at that speed. Steve and Jimmy are flying at close to the speed of sound. At that speed, banking an F/A-18 would cause very bad things to happen to the pilot and airplane, including incredibly high g-forces which would make it difficult for Jimmy to breathe.


Question: Whereabouts is the Stargate film poster in this film? Apparently it's on the side of a bus, but I'm not sure where.

Chosen answer: It's actually not in the film, the shot was edited out. In that shot the poster was on a billboard which a bus went through.

Question: When they board Air Force One, Bill Pullman tells the pilot that they are ready to take off. He then says something to a female flight attendant, she nods and then walks away. Could someone who has subtitles please tell me what he says to her?

Chosen answer: "Could you please get a blanket for my daughter?"


Question: When firing a missile, why do the pilots always precede it with the word Fox (e.g 'Fox 1.')? Also, what significance does the phrase 'pile the road' mean?

Chosen answer: "Fox One" represents the launch of a semi-active, radar-guided air-to-air missile, "Fox Two" stands for the launch of an heat-seeking air-to-air missile, "Fox Three" is the launch of an active, radar-guided air-to-air missile and "Fox Four" is the firing of air-to-air guns. Source The President says "Plough the road", meaning he wants a path cleared for Randy Quaid's plane.

Phil Watts

Question: The Welcome Wagon helicopter brings a message in lights. Exactly how would that work, how do different light patterns communicate any message and who decided what patterns there would be?

Chosen answer: The pattern of lights shows that we are an intelligent race. The lights would show a pattern and then become random. There isn't a message to speak of, but a demonstration of our intellect. Scientist would normally use the lights to represent a scientific equation or something of that nature. The aliens would respond by either mimicing the patterns, or producing a variation of the pattern we showed them.

Timothy Cheseborough

Question: This film is also known as ID4. What's the relevance in this (or am I missing something big)?

Phil Watts

Chosen answer: ID stands for Independence Day and in the US, Independence Day is on July 4th.




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Russell Casse: Hello boys! I'm baaack!



When Dr. Okun is about to unlock "the vault", and says, "The freak show," a crewmember wearing a black and white striped shirt is hiding under the vault's floor, right behind Okun. (Only visible on fullscreen DVD.)



When Steven and David are being chased out of the alien mothership, David says "Must go faster, must go faster." This is a line Jeff Goldblum said in the film Jurassic Park (1993), when he was riding in the back of a jeep, getting chased by the T-Rex. That line from Jurassic Park was loved so much by ID4 filmmakers, they looped it into the dialogue. Jeff never actually spoke that line when ID4 was being filmed.