Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2020

Department 1


Department 2

Cinema & Media Studies


Inside of every alien invasion story is a central ‘us vs. them’ mentality that carries the thematic and moral weight of the story. Because of this, alien invasion films can be viewed through a postcolonial lens that reveals the destructive implications of colonialism, including a fear of the foreign and the figure of the white savior. Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day (1996) and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) are no exception to this. Although both films are about aliens coming to Earth, the perspectives they follow in telling the story, their depictions of the military and scientists, their commentary on the role of communication, and the outcomes of the conflict make the films inverted reflections of each other. With the excessive patriotic rhetoric and imagery of Independence Day and Arrival’s commentary on communication and militarism, the language of these films are seemingly opposed to each other, but both ultimately reveal the importance of that language in negotiating conflict and either challenging or conforming to the simplistic ‘us vs. them’ binary present in both of the films.


Written for GER 260: Violence in the Media

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.