Die Hard: The Best Christmas Movie For Grown Ups
Article by Anthony Cleveland
Recently, a poll from the UK revealed that a majority of the citizens don’t believe Die Hard is a Christmas movie... Even Stateside, most people watch it as an alternative movie, favoring one of the other overt Christmas classics over the holiday action masterpiece. The problem with a majority of these watchers is that they view it simply as an action film that takes place on Christmas and don't appreciate it for the tongue-in-cheek Christmas classic it is. I’ve alway been in the camp that it's 100% a Christmas movie. But, it’s far much more of a character grounded, adult film and less of a spirit-filled Christmas tale.
A good place to begin is with the score and songs featured in the film. The score has a heavy emphasis on bells and chimes. The opening song that plays when McClane walks through the airport is clearly incorporating jingle bells. In the limo Argyle plays Run DMC’s "Christmas in Hollis". McClane asks, “Don’t you have any Christmas music?” Argyle confronts him with, “Man, this IS Christmas music!”
Now if we change ‘music’ to ‘movie’ when defending Die Hard, I'd argue that it is Christmas, just done in a different style.
The obvious point here is that the film takes place on Christmas Eve. But, this is important to the plot because of the Christmas party at Holly’s work, with John trying to patch over his marriage with her to spend the holidays as a family. This conflict between Holly and John is the main Christmas-like story detail. It’s a family that’s been separated because of their own reasons, whether it’s vanity or jealously — two very anti-Christmas emotions.
John and Holly almost patch up their relationship, but John’s insecurities fumble the possibility of having the family spend Christmas together. As Holly leaves, John reflects on how he acted inappropriately in that situation.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
John hightails it, entering full-on cop mode, and he does everything he can to keep the hostages safe. There’s tons of explosions and the baddies bodies (along with a few innocents, some of which are deserving of a bullet to the head) start to pile up. At John’s lowest point, when he’s pulling glass out of his mangled bare feet, he reflects back on his wife and how much he loves her. On the other end of the radio is Sgt. Al Powell, who tells him, “You can tell her yourself.”
Which brings us to the character of Al and what he represents in regards to Christmas. We meet him as he’s just trying to get through his Christmas Eve shift, then John drops a body on him from the plaza and entangles him in the chaos. John and Al form a deep friendship rather quickly, which I interpret as the importance of friendship on the holidays and goodwill of all mankind. There’s a scene where the chief tells Al to go home for the night, and Al tells his supervisor, “No way. You’ll have to drag me away.” He knows that he’s all that John has, and he’ll be damned if he leaves him without a lifeline.
On the radio, Al tells John how he accidentally shot a child and now he can’t even pull his service revolver out of the holster. At the end of the film, Al gets a little Christmas miracle. He’s able to draw his revolver and shoot a bad guy that was about to kill Holly and John. I’m not saying the death of this baddie was a miracle, but for Al to overcome his guilt, it certainly is.
At the end of the film, Holly and John are reunited and “Let It Snow” plays as office papers and bonds fall from the sky like large snowflakes. They kiss and drive off to spend the holidays with their children.
At its core, Die Hard is an I’ll-be-home-for-the-holidays story told in a hyper-violent action movie kinda way. Is it the best Christmas movie of all time? Probably not to many, but to me it’s up there and will always be a Christmas Eve tradition in my house after the kids go to sleep and its time to set out Santa's gifts.
What do you think? Do you recognize Die Hard as a Christmas film? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy Well!