Photo courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

Let’s settle the debate: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

By Jenn Gorrie, December 11 2019—

Let’s be real, the overall selection of Christmas movies is not something to brag about, as the quality of narrative has gone downhill over the years. When asking someone what their favourite Christmas movie is, no one blurts out Die Hard, probably because of the long-existing debate on whether or not the film is actually considered festive. 

Netflix is currently bringing back old Disney actors and stretching episodes into what could be considered short mediocre features. It’s rather embarrassing to think about. Even the selection of Halloween films has over 100 to choose from — including genres such as slashers, thrillers, supernatural and even gothic horror. 

There are two themes for Christmas films — either a daughter is introducing her boyfriend to a family who might disapprove or a father is trying to make his way home on time. Fortunately, Die Hard is a cult classic that attracts viewers around the holidays and can actually be considered an acceptable Christmas film. 

Every year in Calgary there is a screening of the first Die Hard held for fans to come in from the cold and watch on a big screen. This year it will be playing at The Grand Theatre on Dec. 13.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be a part of the audience at the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF). For someone who had not seen the film — it was definitely an experience. People like to interact during the movie — similar to watching Rocky Horror Picture Show, minus people climbing on stage and dancing. Some people were participating by reciting the dialogue word-for-word. 

The long debate over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas film can be settled if you take the time to watch not only the first film, but the second one as well. There is a lot of action that could distract from the festive season, but both films take place during the holidays and stay true to the “I’ll be home for Christmas” message.   

Take a look at other popular Christmas films like  Home Alone, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and Elf. They all have a similar premise — families trying to reunite with one another. Die Hard is no different. It follows John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, as he returns home for the holidays. 

McClane lives apart from his family because of his work as a New York cop. During the holiday, he plans to attend his wife Holly’s Christmas party. 

Luckily McClane is at the right place at the right time, as a heist involving terrorists take over Holly’s work. Viewers of the film might get distracted with all the gunfire, explosions and running around, but the film still has little reminders that it takes place during Christmas Eve throughout.

Well-known Christmas jingles and decorations are displayed around the buildings. Just because there is a lot of action does not take away from Die Hard being Christmas-themed. 

The second film takes place two years later, following McClane at an airport as he waits for Holly’s flight to land. This time the airport is the new location that has been taken hold of by terrorists. 

I understand why some viewers think the second film is inappropriate for Christmas, but it’s set around the same time of year as the first movie and Holly is the one trying to return to her family. Yes, there are a lot of explosions and gunfire, but the message is like every other Christmas film. Maybe this holiday you can make the decision for yourself and watch Die Hard.  

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.


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