Independence Day: 5 movies celebrating American freedom

July the 4th marks Independence Day in the USA, and while it's not a UK holiday, there have been plenty of movies spun off from this monumental moment in history. So join us as we round up five films that cause people to rally and cry out in the name of freedom.

1. Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)

After he made Stagecoach, but before he made The Grapes of Wrath, revered filmmaker John Ford tackled the American Revolutionary War. Ford is regarded as one of the greatest chroniclers of American frontier life, yet Drums Along the Mohawk tends to get lost amidst his numerous Western classics. There's plenty going for it, starting with the inspiring story that takes Walter D. Edmonds' novel as its basis.

Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert are the New York settlers besieged on their farm on all sides by English and Native American forces, a dramatic narrative that is displayed in handsome Technicolor cinematography (it was, in fact, Ford's first feature released in the format). Add to that a score from Alfred Newman and there's plenty of rich material in which to invest.

2. Revolution (1985)

Here's a movie whose production was so stressful, it scared star Al Pacino into hiding for four years. The Godfather and Scarface veteran was afflicted with pneumonia during the making of this Revolutionary War epic, and it clearly shows on his face. Another bizarre observation: the movie was shot in a mixture of Norfolk and Devon, presumably for budgetary reasons.

Chariots of Fire helmer Hugh Hudson valiantly attempts to invest sweep into this story of a fur trapper drafted into the American vs English conflict. But he's ultimately undone by the sight of Pacino's mullet, murky cinematography and co-star Donald Sutherland's bizarre attempt at a Yorkshire accent. So disastrous was the movie that it bankrupted distributor Goldcrest, although the film's status as an odd cinematic artefact is undeniable.

3. Independence Day (1996)

Roland Emmerich fused the 1970s disaster movie tradition with the creaky old alien invasion epic in this world-conquering blockbuster. Nostalgic in its tone yet revolutionary in its deployment of CGI and practical effects, Independence Day is a knowingly silly popcorn epic, and a whole lot of fun to boot. The starry cast is clearly in on the patriotic joke: the likes of Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, playing three of Earth's most prominent figures battling an invading alien race, are having a lot of fun.

The eye-grabbing sight of The White House being blown to smitheerens formed the basis of the marketing campaign, and it was one of many memorable images that catapulted the movie to huge grosses. Independence Day ultimately raked in more than $800 million worldwide and won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Still, forget the aliens – the point where we really have to suspend our disbelief is President Pullman's astonishingly jingoistic speech to rally the dispossessed masses of mankind. Aye aye, sir!

4. The Patriot (2000)

One does not come to a Roland Emmerich movie for subtlety. In the case of The Patriot, one should not expect any semblance of historical accuracy either. This rabble-rousing period tale essentially allows star Mel Gibson to go Mad Max on the English once again, as his Carolina farmer is compelled to take revenge against the English redcoats. Said forces are represented by a fiendishly evil Jason Isaacs, who is just one step away from growing a moustache that he can twirl in a theatrical manner.

Nevertheless, for all the movie's corniness and aversion to fact (a church-burning scene devised by screenwriter Robert Rodat caused particular offense), it's nevertheless possessed of energy and vigour. Much of this is down to a typically stirring John Williams score, which works hard to suggest genuine human emotion beneath Emmerich's shameless manipulation. 

5. National Treasure (2004)

Nicolas Cage tackling the legacy of the American Revolutionary War – does it get any better than that? This cheesy, sub-Indiana Jones adventure has gained in popularity over the years, probably because it's good-natured enough to embrace its own ridiculousness. But then with Cage in the title role, it was never going to be taken that seriously.

He plays historian Benjamin Franklin Gates (yes, really), who discovers a coded treasure map on the back of the American Declaration of Independence. With its cheekily ludicrous take on American pride, the movie defied tepid critical notices to gross more than $300 million worldwide. In fact, it was such a hit, it inspired a Cage-starring sequel in 2007.

What are your favourite Independence Day movies? Let us know @Cineworld.