Film Review: "Independence Day"

Reviewed Title: 
Independence Day

I began to think I might be asked to leave the theater last night, as I feasted on this perinatologist's dream, in movie form. "Oh boy, Mary Jane", I hissed into my friend's patient ear, "the aliens look like fetuses! There's the cord! see, they're moving into BPM III!" (Basic Perinatal Matrix*)

"Independence Day," this summer's smash hit about space aliens bent on the earth's destruction, had me riveted to my seat, but not because of the special effects. Rather, the fiery, explosive, and doomful portrayal of the world's impending end, is an obvious projection of the writers' unresolved birth travail. I'd serendipitously stumbled onto what could be a mandala in film form, depicting a Holotropic breathwork session with Stan Grof (see Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPM*), Grof, Stanislav, most publications).

Directed by Roland Emmerich, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Will Smith, "Independence Day", is the story of "a day in the life" of folks from Los Angeles, Washington D.C. etc.

Things are moving along quite normally (BPM I* intrauterine life, prior to the onset of labor), when the ripples of a disturbance emanate through embryonic waters. That is, inexplicable forms are viewed on radar screens around the globe.

The ubiquitous, destructive womb-presence is felt as the massive "mother ship" and her offshoots, of a distant, malefic civilization, move into position over the major cities of the world. Their intention?, complete annihilation! All hell breaks loose (BPM II* or cosmic engulftnent), with firebreathing weaponry that destroys entire cities with scarcely any effort. In a feeble attempt to regain control, the president orders "the big one" to be unleashed onto the death-dealing monster.

The film's two heroes, Goldblum and Smith, have given up all hope of survival as this projected birth matrix (BPM II*) heaves on. Goldblum takes to the bottle, and Smith gives up his neglected girlfriend for dead. Nasty but alacritous little space rockets tear through the atmosphere, defeating everyone in sight. A pilot is asphyxiated; one of several legs of a fetal-like alien (umbilical cord) chokes the life out of the weird doctor. There is no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, or cervix, as it were.

A distinct shift ensues as Goldblum inspires himself to action. If they can only inject the maternal beast with a computer virus, it could derail her protective shields long enough for the united military of the world (fetus) to strike a lethal blow (BPM III* or death-rebirth struggle). There is light at the end of the canal, oops, tunnel; they might come out of this alive, after all!

That's just what happens, too, as the nerd-like, Viet Nam era holdover, UFO abductee, hung-over pilot, does a Kamikazi number on the mother-ship. He thrusts his bomber right into the center of the fetus-crushing womb, causing a behemoth, circular explosion, birth! victory! orgasm? (BPM IV*).

The film closes with our heroes, their adulatory families, and the exultant and victorious military walking away from the smoking, hulk-like carcas of the mother ship (placenta). Back to BPMI*, the circle is complete.

Now, I'm wondering, why is it that we had to wait an hour to get in to see "Independence Day"? Three of six of the outlets in the megacinema were showing it. Nothing about the cast is unusual or special. There's no academy award pending for this film. Typical special effects, much less spectacular than "Star Wars", are nothing we haven't seen before. Could it be that the film's undoubtedly inadvertent perinatal plot is the real draw?

Is it true, as Lloyd DeMause purports, that we gather together in groups with the sole objective of regressing to the perinatal realm of the unconscious, to recapitulate our birth trauma (DeMause, Foundations of Psychohistory, 1982)? "End of the world" themes abound in literature and film. Why are they so popular?

I was pretty anxious last night, through all the tumult, not able to ascertain if there was more tumult inside me or on the screen. How was it for you?

*BPM, or Basic Perinatal Matrix, is a division of Grof "s Cartography of Inner Space (Grof, Beyond the Brain, 1985, p. 92). Here he explicates his model of the subconscious realms he believes to be fundamentally interwoven with the birth experience. According to Grof, as altered states of mind are induced, one will ultimately begin to reexperience birth in a healing and resolutionary way.

The BPMs are correlates of clinical birth stages. Clinical stage I, or BPM II, is the time in labor when contractions are forceful but the cervix is still undilated. Research has shown that in altered states psychotherapy, this stage is experienced as hellish and hopeless. The fetus is being beaten steadily by contractions but can see no hope of liberation.

The next clinical stage aligns with BPM III, where labor continues but the cervix has dilated. This is experienced in a more hopeful light; the fetus still struggles but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Visions of massive disaster such as earthquakes, volcanoes or tidal waves often occur.

BPM IV, the 3rd clinical stage of childbirth, is actual birth, the separation of the fetus from the mother to render a new and independent human being.

Publication Date: 
05/1996