House lights twinkling, Clark Griswold style, a joyful chorus of carolers bundled up, eyeing Martha Stewart’s classic and loaded egg nog on the stoop. And from the outside looking in, a family of multiple generations celebrating Christmas Eve near a decked-out tree with shiny packages underneath and a merrily crackling fire. But look a bit closer. A heated debate is in process, fueled by nog and righteous indignation dividing brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, moms, dads, and grandparents. It happens every year but can be put to bed straight away. Yes, Virginia, Die hard is a Christmas movie.
Unraveling The Christmas Message
Family, romance, nostalgia, trappings and traditions associated with the holiday, and great music are part and parcel of a Christmas movie. And the lesson: believe and behave, and life is a blessing. Bah humbuggers are either reformed or removed. Die Hard meets every one of those criteria.
It’s home for the holidays with bullets, more bullets, explosions, and unrequited love. The lead character, a cop from New York City, John McClane, is in LA for Christmas. McClane has an ex-wife named, of all things, Holly. He still pines for the woman. Holly is at her company Christmas Party along with all the executives in a downtown office building, basking in wealth and gift-giving. Security is a tad lax, and things take a decidedly different turn from festivities to cowering. German terrorists take over the entire tower to steal $640 million in bearer bonds.
Die Hard elevates family over greed and materialism. Think It’s a Wonderful Life with a higher body count. Yet, in between epic shootouts and painful sacrifice by McClane, the message throughout is clear. Running barefoot across broken glass to help others exudes selflessness; a traditional Christmas lesson. All in all, unconditional love and honesty defeat avarice every time.
It’s all Christmas. From the dialogue to the setting, quirky lines, Santa, holiday soundtrack, and snowfall in Los Angeles, well, it is indeed a Christmas movie.
Further Proof for Argument’s Sake
Die Hard scriptwriter Steven E. de Souza, the film’s director, John McTiernan, and producer Joel Silver have declared their flick to be a Christmas movie. De Souza has gone so far as to say it’s more Christmasy than the 1950s White Christmas starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. In his words:
“Does the movie take place during the Christmas holiday? Die Hard takes place entirely during Christmas. White Christmas, only the first scene and the final scene occur on Christmas, and they take place eight or ten years apart.
“Is the setting a Christmas party? Die Hard is set entirely at a Christmas party. In White Christmas, only the final scene is a Christmas party. How many Christmas songs are in the movie? Die Hard has four – Let it Snow, Winter Wonderland, Christmas in Hollis, and Jingle Bells. White Christmas has only two. White Christmas, of course, and Snow, which is arguably not even a Christmas song; it’s a weather song.”
Them’s fighting words for some folks. And McTiernan explains how it became a movie based on joy, faith, family, and selfless love: “There was a joy in it. Because we … had changed the content. And that is how ‘Die Hard’ became – we hadn’t intended it 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.”
Die Hard gives a lot of people hope that good will triumph over evil, and that peace, love, and life will prevail. And if it doesn’t resonate quite yet, star Bruce Willis watches the flick every year. At Christmas. It’s a family tradition.
~ Read more from Sarah Cowgill.