Independence Day 1996
July 2nd: An American flag, oddly still, posted in gray dusty sand. Widen to reveal the Moon's lunar surface. One small step for man, one large pile of garbage for moon-kind. Untouched for years, the flag stands next to the castoff remains of the Apollo mission. Slowly the discarded equipment begins to rattle and shake.
An enormous shadow creeps towards us blotting out the horizon, a loud rumble is heard. Suddenly we are covered in darkness as the shadow engulfs us. Only the lonely image of our Earth hangs in the air, until a huge silhouetted object suddenly blocks our view.
Cut to New Mexico, Radio Telescope Valley: A field of large satellite dishes scan the skies. S.E.T.I. Institute, Monitoring Control Center, a lone technician works on his putting skills. Behind him, wall to wall technical equipment quietly sifts through data. A red light begins to flash. The Technician turns and slowly walks towards the source. One by one a series of lights turn on.
The Technician (Tech One) grabs a pair of headphones. His eyes widen. Tech One picks up the phone to call the SETI Chief, resting in the sleeping quarters. Tech One holds the phone up to a speaker, increases the volume. A strange fluctuating tone plays out in sequential patterns. Hearing it, the Chief bolts up, banging his head on the bunk above him.
Moments later, other technicians in various states of undress, anxiously working in the Control Center. The Chief enters, Tech Two relays that Air Res Traffic confirms the skies are clear. Tech One claims it's a radio signal from another world. The room becomes quiet, but the Chief is skeptical and requests a trajectory source computation. He's also annoyed at Tech One, tripping over the golf balls left on the floor.
Tech Three at the computer terminal, stares at the screen in disbelief. She explains the calculated distance from source is at three hundred and eight five thousand kilometers. . . . It's coming from the moon. The Chief reaches over and turns up the volume on the speaker as they listen to the strange tones.
Pentagon Hallway: Four star General Grey, Commander in Chief U.S. Space Command is escorted by Commanding Officer Boe. Requesting who else know about it, Boe reveals that S.E.T.I. in New Mexico identified a signal but they're even more confused than they are. The General shoots him a disapproving glance. Boe slides his security card through the lock and the doors fly open.
Space Command: Banks of computers, technicians and assistants working feverishly through the night. The Officers cross the room. Satellite reception has been impaired but they were able to get some satellite photos. They arrive at a glass table.
The surrounding officers snap to attention as a second officer quickly brings over a large transparency. We see a grainy image of a large vague object. They estimate it has a diameter of over five hundred and fifty kilometers (340 miles) and a mass roughly one fourth the size of the moon.
The General turns to the Second Officer, concerned, wondering if it's a meteor, but the officer confirms it's not since it is slowing down. The General walks over to a phone, picks it up and calls the Secretary of Defense.
Whitmore's Bedroom: Laying in bed Thomas J. Whitmore reads a stack of papers. The phone rings. The warm look on Whitmore's face tells us everything about how he feels about the woman on the other end.
Hotel Room: Dressed in a night gown, Mrs. Margaret Whitmore unpacks her briefing papers as she talks. Through the window we see Los Angeles at night. Whitmore sits up and jokes with her he is sleeping with a beautiful young brunette. Sleeping next to him, his six-year-old daughter, Patricia. The little girl stirs awake, looks up.
Whitmore hands her the phone and gets out of bed. Habitably she turns on the television. A news program shows several "Pundits" sitting around a MacLaughlin-type news discussion program. The discussion involves criticism of the President. Whitmore turns to his daughter who holds the remote and exits the room.
Hallway: As Whitmore steps out of his bedroom, a Security guard greets him. Someone behind a newspaper, sits on a bench. The paper is dropped revealing Constance Halbrook, mid-thirties, aggressive, sharp, the President's communications director. Quickly she gathers her things and follows Whitmore.
Breakfast Table: A servant is preparing breakfast as Whitmore and Constance enter. Whitmore sits down, grabs a coffee. She tosses him one of the many newspapers in her hands, lecturing him that they are not attacking his policies, they are attacking his age, the message has been lost, too much politics.
Whitmore, "Isn't it amazing how fast everyone can turn against you." Realizing she may be pushing him too far, she hands him another paper where the Orange County Register has named him one of the ten sexiest men of the year. An Aide appears at the doorway announcing a phone call from the Secretary of Defense, who informs the President regarding the orbiting object.
Drifting away from us the old Russian satellite becomes smaller and smaller. We pan with it as we see it's on a collision course with something huge. Suddenly the satellite explodes on impact with the much larger object that dwarfs the puny piece of hardware. As huge as it is, we get the feeling we've only seen a portion of the total.
New York skyline, early morning, a slow crane down from the Manhattan skyline, revealing Cliffside Park, New Jersey. With the New York skyline across the Hudson behind them, old men sit in this small park playing chess. Unlike the others, David Martin is in his early thirties, sixties hippie meets nineties yuppie nerd. He concentrates intensely on his next move. Julius Levinson, sixties, David's father, smokes a cigar impatiently.
David makes a move. Instantly Moishe counters his move. David furls his brow in thought. Just as David finally makes his move, Moishe counters again. David shoots him a look and stares back down to the board. Moishe takes a big puff on the cigar and coughs. Julius lectures David about still wearing his wedding ring even after three years since his divorce. David moves his queen. Checkmate. He gives his father a quick kiss and hurries away.
Later, David pedals his bike through the office at Compact Cable Systems. He's confronted by Marty Gilbert, short, nervous and harried, comes rushing over.Marty is in panic, every channel is making like it's nineteen fifty. Snow, static, all kinds of distortions. No one knows what the hell is going on. David deposits his bike near a soda machine as Marty tosses his coke can in the trash.
David retrieves it, lecturing Marty about using the recycle bin. Before David can say anything, Marty ushers him out of the room. They discuss various troubleshooting procedures, Marty hands him some readouts. In the David's office, he examines the readouts, puzzled, the results are impossible according to him.
Imperial Valley, California: A television set, bad reception, a hand smacks the side of it, no use. Inside a mobile home, we see eleven-year-old Troy Casse as he tries to fix the television. His older brother Miguel, seventeen, cooks breakfast. His sister, Alicia, fourteen, hormones kicking in, testing boundaries, putting on too much makeup.
A beat up pick-up truck comes down a dirt road and skids to a halt on the gravel next to the Brennon Mobile Home at this small shabby countryside trailer park. Lucas, an angry farmer jumps out, slamming his door. Alicia smiles flirtatiously at Lucas, who marches over.
Lucas holds a hand full of rotted vegetables. His whole crop is like that. Lucas had hired their father to spray his crops. Unceremoniously, he dumps them at Miguel's feet and warns that if Russell is come there in twenty minutes, he's getting someone else.
Later, racing over back roads behind a long open field, Miguel rides his beat-up motor bike, searching. Looking up he sees something in the air. An old bi-wing airplane converted into a crop-duster, buzzes overhead. Spraying insecticide wildly, the plane zigzags over the field. Looking down from the cockpit, Russell Casse waves stupidly. Shaggy blonde hair and two days' growth, Russell is the image of a fifty-one-year-old little boy.