Since that fateful day that aliens cast a dark shadow on the capital cities of the world, everything changed. When Roland Emmerich annihilated the white house in a now iconic clip of action cinema, he revolutionized the scale of the modern blockbuster. And, the hell with what critics say, this year’s sequel followed suit as it went even bigger and barmier (albeit not better) than the original in its preposterously grand scaled destruction. The original may be better remembered; it did after all introduce such scope to popcorn cinema, but for what it is worth the enjoyable follow-up did expand the series backstory (even if the film’s lukewarm domestic takings may ensure the mythos in not followed up). So, with all this said and with the franchise officially celebrating its 20th anniversary, The Art And Making Of Independence Day Resurgence looks to dive further into the war between we humans and these tentacled, exo-skeletal, extra terrestrial foes.
Simon Ward’s collection of 20 years of Independence Day history makes a great companion to the sequel and while not completely perfect, it reminds you of the focal points of the first, while filling in the integral narrative gaps between features. Truth be told, Resurgence implied many things and did not explain everything in detail, as it instead just made a run for the action. However this book alludes to the years of development both on and offscreen of this world. As it takes us both back to the ’96 film and, more prominently, through the construction of this new one. The structure of this book is easily followed and very neat, with David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum’s character in the film) acting as a kind of narrator at the start, middle and end (in an afterword) and you can believe the character wrote these sections, with Goldblum’s trademark deadpan delivery coming to mind as you read through the text.
The coverage of the original film pinpoints the main characters (and includes many of the actors comments on them), as well as covering the infamous White House explosion and fighter pilot design, etc. This section is to the point and informative and very makes for nostalgic reading with some insight into the behind the scenes stuff, with anecdotes of Will Smith making Vivica A. Fox (his onscreen wife) take things seriously, as well as Brent Spiner talking to Goldblum who realised from the off the film would be huge…no point intended. True more stories would have been welcome, as would more insight into the 50s alien invasion flick influences, mentioned only in passing. However this section is just that, a section. The meat of the book really comes in its coverage of Resurgence, which is more in-depth and well led up to by this trip into the past.
“There is something to be said about real sets that have substance”, says Karl Walter Lindenlaub (director of photography) in describing the construction of the White House set in the first film…only for them to blow it up. “People can hardly believe when I tell them that 80% of the visual effects they see onscreen are model-miniatures” Volker Engel (visual effects supervisor) later says and it is interesting how these comments and discussions on effects really lead up to the talk of blue screen and advanced technology in the new film. At one point designer Mark Yang’s comments on Emmerich insisting they keep going bigger, much bigger and that is certainly felt in this sequel. The stunning collection of concept artwork is beautifully placed- especially that covering the film’s ridiculously huge alien mothership arrival and the resulting destruction. There are so many gorgeously realized images here that it really is fascinating seeing how some of these ideas did transpire onscreen.
Also great is how David Levinson’s character memoirs section explains the face of Will Smith’s Steven Hiller, his on and off wife “Connie” (Margaret Colin in the first film) and some insight into our advancing world thanks to the alien technology. That final point being especially expanded across the following pages, which are chock full of artwork and excessive looks at the sets, vehicles and bases in the new movie. Also great is how you get a better look at the aliens themselves, especially the 200ft queen from the new film, which allows you to appreciate the work that went into their design and as Emmerich says in his foreword of this neat collection of Independence Day history, “I hope this book shows our filmmaking process, our journey but also our passion and enthusiasm for this world”. It does just that and while some areas could have been developed even more than they already are, it is hard to imagine fans feeling short changed by this hefty and well assembled look at the franchise and especially the fun new film.
THE ART AND MAKING OF INDEPENDENCE DAY RESURGENCE / AUTHOR: SIMON WARD / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW