I said I’d be discussing Christmas and holiday memories throughout the month of December, but now I’m bringing up Die Hard? What’s up with that?
Whether or not the 1988 Bruce Willis action-adventure can be considered a Christmas movie is a long-running debate among a lot of people. Many believe that just because the movie takes place during a Christmas party, that Christmas music plays in the background, and that the movie is often shown during the holiday season each year doesn’t mean it should be considered a Christmas classic.
Some people even say that the Christmas elements could easily be removed from the movie without changing the story. This may be true of John McClain traveling cross-country to visit his family, which he might have done for another important event, such as the birthday of one of his children. Yet I would argue the so-called terrorists chose to schedule their takeover of the tower during the Christmas party in order to catch everyone off guard. This would make Christmas, and the Christmas party, a major factor in the storyline. I don’t believe any other holiday would work quite as well for their purposes. The choice of setting the story at Christmas could also be seen as symbolism of the greed and decadence exhibited by many of the characters. Especially since the party has a very 1980s “greed is good” vibe. The choice of Christmas by the filmmakers seems very deliberate to me.
In my mind, Die Hard is an excellent example of the less savory aspects of the Christmas season. The movie fits in well with other Christmas classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Christmas may be considered the most wonderful time of the year by many people, but not everyone finds the season to be all joy and happiness. Expectations are so high that many of us end up being disappointed in some way. Kids may not get the one toy they really wanted. Christmas dinner may have been ruined by a family argument. Or a reunion between estranged spouses might be interrupted by the terrorist takeover of a party.
Die Hard also provides a happy ending (at least for now) for John and Holly that may not have come about if not for Hans Gruber and his associates. The life-and-death stakes gave them a newfound appreciation for each other. I suspect the couple and their kids did end up celebrating a very Merry Christmas together.
You may not agree that Die Hard is a Christmas movie and that’s okay. What’s most important to me is that myself and my family don’t feel our holiday season is complete until Hans Gruber has fallen off Nakatomi Tower.
Yippee-kay-ay…and Merry Christmas!