Considering the German track record with fairy tales, it seems odd, in retrospect, that no one noticed the cultural antecedents of the most successful movie of 1996. It was a plot straight out of the Brothers Grimm: irredeemably evil superbeings threaten the existence of everyday people with all their deficiencies and quirks; everyday people rise above their flaws to discover an inner strength they never knew they had; everyday people triumph over evil and live happily ever after.

When you get right down to it, there’s nothing intrinsically American about the story behind INDEPENDENCE DAY .RO.K., fine, so the movie was shot in Hollywood with Hollywood actors. But the idea, the script, the direction, the camerawork, and many of the special effects came from Germans. Without Roland Emmerich, son of Stuttgart, Independence Day never would have happened. The director and producer to whom Germans now refer, with a mixture...


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