Joseph Collins III ‘23, Staff Writer

Christmas! The time of bustling department stores, back ordered Amazon packages, the “big man in red” coming down your chimney, and joyful songs to remind you of years gone by. Nothing compliments the holiday season more than settling down for a nice family classic. It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, and Home Alone; all of these are prime examples of movies enjoyed by many during the Christmas season. There is one movie, however, that finds itself to be a point of contention in this matter.

Die Hard is an action thriller directed by John McTiernan, starring Bruce Willis as John McClane, Bonnie Bedelia as Holly Gennero McClane, and the late Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. A group of European terrorists, led by Hans, seize control of the Nakatomi Building where Holly, John, and many other employees are in an attempt to steal bearer bonds from the building’s vault. When the terrorists take hostages, which John manages to evade, Sergeant Al Powell, played by Reginald VelJohnson, helps him single handedly take them all down and save his wife. The movie takes place on Christmas Eve night and elements of the holiday are present throughout the film. From casual mentionings, to the various Christmas songs played as part of the soundtrack, Die Hard has all the right elements to be a Christmas movie. From an interview with the American Film Institute, John McTiernan himself is quoted saying “we hadn’t intended [Die Hard] to be a Christmas movie. But the joy that came from it is what turned it into a Christmas movie. And that’s really the best I can tell you about it” (Gomez 2020). Additionally, the screenwriter for the movie, Steven E. de Souza has stated multiple times that Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie. (Gazette 2019). 

But what specifically qualifies a movie to be a Christmas movie? In other words, what elements of the story allow for it to be considered a Christmas movie if it is not outright stated? Well, let’s take a look at Die Hard and see by asking a few simple questions. Does the film take place during Christmas? Yes, Die Hard takes place on Christmas Eve to the early morning of Christmas Day. Do the characters in Die Hard actively acknowledge the Christmas holiday happening around them? Yes, there are multiple references made to the holiday by many different characters. A few examples are, Holly Gennero telling her kids she’ll be home for Christmas and maybe their father will be too, Hans telling Theo “It’s Christmas Theo. It’s the time of miracles.” as they struggle to open the vault door, and Argyle telling John that “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. is a Christmas song. Does Die Hard utilize elements of Christmas in a way that furthers the plot? Well, there is the famous “Now I have a machine gun ho, ho, ho” where John’s presence is revealed to the terrorists against him. There is also evidence of John duct taping his pistol to his back with Christmas duct tape, (spoiler alert) which he then uses to kill Hans and save Holly.

Based on these examples, as well as others, I firmly believe that Die Hard IS indeed a Christmas movie. 

Source: IMDB

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