By Joseph Walter
The original "Independence Day's" score is one of its defining features. For example, the broad, patriotic anthems that accompany the heroic actions of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum continue to ring in the ears of many, and make regular appearances at Fourth of July fireworks shows.
However, there's another fantastic motif in the film, and it's that of the unknown, Alien menace.
The best example of it can be found below, between 2:55 and 3:58.
This theme is used spectacularly throughout the film, with many variations. Notable ones include the long, drawn out version when the flash clears from a nuclear strike, revealing that the alien Destroyers had nary a scratch, or during the climactic aerial finale, when each missile misses the intended target of the primary weapon, moments from destroying Area 51.
However, the version of the theme I want to talk about today is one that didn't even make it into the movie! This is "1969 - We Came in Peace," an alternate accompaniment to the opening prologue of the film, which shows the American flag on the moon, our astronaut's footprints and the plaque commemorating the moment we landed, while the shadow of civilization's greatest threat slowly creeps over the desolate, dusty surface.
The version in the film does not include the Alien theme, instead opting for a more ominous ambience, but this version perfectly sets up the motif in a bone-chilling way. Let us give it a listen:
Soon, the triumphant theme, although valiant in its attempt to stay relevant, begins to peter off as the shadow of the Alien mothership engulfs these triumphs of humanity. The theme is now replaced with forlorn strings, which are soon joined by a sorrowful brass performing the Alien theme, and one that would have been our first taste of the motif if this track had been in the film.
The most stunning element of this section of the song are the strings that accompany the brass. I know they aren't choral, but their utterly crestfallen performance, which intertwines with the brass, almost seems like the voices of a thousand worlds trying desperately to warn us of the encroaching doom, doing everything they can to hold back the threat (represented by the brass) yet, immediately following this truly somber moment, they are overpowered by a stronger, more threatening brass, which culminates in a dissonant conclusion, symbolizing the assumed finality of their arrival, and the imminent destruction that awaits.
While I can understand the reasoning behind including a less "on the nose" and more mysterious prologue theme, I can't help but feel as though skipping this one was a major missed opportunity.
Not only is it an excellent set-up for the motif in terms of the film and progression of the score, but the harrowing symbolism of this motif overriding our patriotic theme while the alien ship visually overshadows our historic victory on the moon would have been beyond perfect.
Regardless, any choice was better than what they did (or didn't do) with this theme (and others) in "Resurgence."