From the Archives: Once and For All: Die Hard is a Christmas Movie

From the Archives: Once and For All: Die Hard is a Christmas Movie

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.

Originally posted on Cinema76.

There’s a very, very silly argument which rears its head in film circles around this time of year regarding my personal favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard. This year being 2017, the beginning of the New Dark Ages (TM), the argument has been elevated to its silliest ends. Here’s a breakdown of the parties involved and what I think of them:

1. People who think Die Hard is not a Christmas movie.

You are wrong. Die Hard is very obviously a Christmas movie.

2. People who think that calling Die Hard a Christmas movie is deeply unconventional.

You are wrong. Die Hard is very obviously a Christmas movie.

Once again, with this being 2017 and all, the loud, vocal members of extreme Die Hardbelief systems have elevated this argument to the point where it’s even being discussed in social justice circles. Can you imagine? I don’t want to get into that. But discussing this mutation of the argument is not my intention here. I want to speak to the above mentioned groups directly —those who either deny that Die Hard is a Christmas movie or think that labeling it as such is some undiscovered nugget of cinephile wisdom. I reiterate: you are both wrong. Die Hard is, and has always been explicitly a Christmas movie. Perhaps, if we can all agree on this one fact which lies at the core of this very, very silly argument, while also making peace with the idea that movies are optional and subjective, we can all move forward through the holidays with love.

It’s Die Hard, which is just a movie. And movies are fun.

This is why I believe Die Hard is a Christmas movie:

– The soundtrack includes Christmas In Hollis, Ode to Joy, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, and Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! The last two were also hummed/whistled by characters, the way people do during the holidays.

– It takes place during an office Christmas party. Thus, there is holiday standard decor/imagery throughout most of the film.

– It’s about a man using his Christmas vacation to reunite with his estranged family which has been pulled apart by ego and career obligations.

– “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.”

– “It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles. So be of good cheer… and call me when you hit the last lock.”

– “If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Years!”

– McClane uses wrapping paper to defeat Gruber.

– Hans Gruber is a reference to Franz Gruber, the composer of Silent Night.

– What is Mrs. McClane’s name? HOLLY.

– Die Hard is very often broadcast on TV during Christmas season.

– Die Hard 2 also takes place on Christmas, and only because it is taking pains to stay true to the brand established in the first film.

If you list the bullet points required by even the biggest Christmas movie stickler, I guarantee you that all will apply to Die Hard. Well, all except for one. To illustrate, tell me the one thing in common with all of the following Christmas classics:

– Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – The Santa Clause – Miracle on 34th Street – A Christmas Carol – A Christmas Story – White Christmas – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

What do these have in common? Well each and every one of these Christmas movies carries the distinction of being pretty much unwatchable outside of the holiday season. This doesn’t make them bad movies, but that’s truly the one thing separating them from Die Hard. Does Die Hard’s multi-seasonal enjoyability exclude it from a Christmas designation? I’d hope not!

So in my estimation, by saying that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie, you’re saying it’s too good for the category. What a terrible restriction to put on any type of film, especially one that is specifically designed to put holiday warmth into your heart. When I am spending time with my loved ones during Christmas, oftentimes Die Hard will be on the TV, and it always puts me and mine in a festive mood. For my money, the ability to invoke that feeling is the ONLY requirement for a Christmas movie, and nothing warms my heart like Die Hard. 

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