Ruins of the Statue of Liberty

Mike GristFantasy Ruins, Movie/TV Ruins, Statues / Monuments, USA, World Ruins 11 Comments

The Statue of Liberty is an icon, a beacon-fire at America`s shore calling out to all and sundry- `come on in, there`s plenty of room!` To destroy her is to denounce the very idea of America, to throw that generosity of spirit back in her face and cry out `who needs you?`

Aliens have done this a few times. Meteors twice. Global warming and global sanding have been involved also. In disaster movies the destruction of Lady Liberty has become something of a cliche, but that doesn`t stop it from being awesome.

Read on for the gallery.

Escape from New York

Bob Hauk: I’m not a fool, Plissken!
Snake Plissken: Call me “Snake.”

Bob Hauk: We’d make one hell of a team, Snake!
Snake Plissken: The name’s Plissken!

Snake Plissken was a numero uno bad-ass, quipping and ass-kicking his way through the ruins of New York City, now a maximum security prison island. Snake has to go in to rescue the President and kick a lot of butt along the way.

There are no shots of the Statue of Liberty in the actual movie, though the promotional material used an image of Liberty`s head to great effect.


A disgusting massive monster comes to town, spoiling the party of a bunch of dumbass people celebrating something for somebody. The monster announces he`s gate-crashing by walloping Liberty`s head off her sturdy shoulders to send it careening through the streets of New York City like a pinball.

The shots used in the movie are deliberately evocative of the shots we just looked at- Escape from New York. Somebody`s paying homage? J. J. Abrams likes his mystery, and his callbacks.


Spielberg`s robot David traipses all over the place following clues left by the Blue Fairy, which ultimately lead him to the end of the world, where the lions weep, Man-hattan. There they fly by Liberty`s submerged torch, drowned under the melt-waters of the worlds ice caps (explained helpfully by voiceover at the start of the movie).

People ragged on this movie a lot, but I loved it, perhaps largely for the dystopic sense of ruin about it, combined with future tech. Even the ending with the *SPOILER!* aliens, I thought it was great.

Planet of the Apes

The one that began the craze- Charlton Heston kneeling in the sand looking up at the timeworn face of Liberty, buried in the sand.

George Taylor: You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell! Oh my God. I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was… We finally really did it.

Tim Burton tried to ape (haha, pun intended!) this shock ending by throwing his hero up against the steps of an Ape Lincoln memorial. Uh… Tim Burton doesn`t get it, I think.

Deep Impact

Mark: How do we set the nukes inside the comet and get out before they blow?
Orin Monash: We don’t.
Andrea: Look on the bright side. We’ll all have high schools named after us.

Deep Impact crash-landed a few months before Armageddon, and featured basically the same story line. An asteroid comes, they have to blow it up. In Armageddon they mostly succeed, in Deep Impact mostly fail. I guess I prefer Deep Impact then because it shows the world getting largely destroyed.

Liberty features very fleetingly- just a one second shot of her head slow-bouncing down a submerged New York street, yellow cabs flying by.

Independence Day

Roland Emmerich has a thing for destructing worlds. I love it.

Will Smith: (punching an alien in the head) Welcome to Earth!

Like Deep Impact, Liberty is onscreen so briefly most people probably don`t remember she was even in it, part of a montage of other famous world sites busted under the black sky of the alien saucers.

Liberty taking a dip.

The Day after Tomorrow

Roland comes at us again with freakish weather caused by global warming. `Flash freezes` and incoming flood tides allow for chase scenes that play out better than anyone could have thought. I loved the movie, again probably largely for the canvas of destruction it is painted on. The people are secondary, and Emmerich gets that. It`s about devastation.

Liberty is not in the film itself much, but featured heavily in the promo posters.

His latest movie 2010 blew my head off with its effects, but didn`t show Liberty once. I guess he felt he`d killed her enough. Good to give her a break.

And a bit of fun-

University of Wisconsin students mocked up this ice-buried Liberty on Lake Mendota in 1979, long before Emmerich got his hands on the idea of `flash freezing`. I bet it was fun.

See more SF / Fantasy Ruins here:

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See all my real world ‘haikyo/ruin’ explores in Japan here:

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See a curation of curious world ruins here.

Read my stories inspired by ruin here.

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Comments 11

  1. Post
  2. Did you mean the film 2012 instead of 2010 while talking about Roland Emmerich?

    I seem to remember Liberty having her face blown off in Judge Dredd, so you can probably count humans and firearms in too 😀

  3. Post

    Leongsoon- Ah yes, 2012, thanks. How embarrassing… I guess I saw it in 2010…
    Judge Dredd, will look into it- ok, hmm, would be difficult to check without watching the movie. Feel like taking on that assignment? 😉 Humans and firearms added to the official list.

  4. Post

    Leongsoon- Gorgeous, thanks!

    DrGonzo- Is that right? I assumed it was aliens. Do they explain in the movie that it`s robots and I just missed it? Because that does make more sense. Aliens is a bit Deus ex Machina.

    Dan- Sweet!

  5. re: AI. “aliens” ? I thought they were the descendants of the androids who finally came to “inherit” the Earth when the human race died out.

    I still can’t look at the scene at the end of “Planet of the Apes” without getting chills. Probably the finest single shot in all of movie scifi.

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