Why Christmas Is So Important To ‘Die Hard’

At this point, it’s pretty canonical that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. The argument is over, and now it’s kind of tedious to here it get talked about online. I haven’t really seen it much this year. It’s gotten to the point where you hear more people complaining about people talking about Die Hard as a Christmas movie than you hear people actually talking about Die Hard. It’s a straw man at this point.

Die Hard is a great movie. It’s a near perfect bit of ‘80s action. It made Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman stars. Well, it made Willis a movie star. He was already a TV star thanks to the largely-forgotten Moonlighting. That’s a story for another day, though. There’s humor, tension, big action set pieces, a proper amount of violence, and so much more. It’s got several good performances. Die Hard is great all year long.

I did want to think about it as a Christmas movie for a second, though. Mostly, I wanted to think about how it works outside the constraints of Christmas. How would it feel? How different would it be? Could you make roughly the same movie?

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By and large yes, but the logistics would be different. You’d have to have an excuse for a big party at Nakatomi Plaza. That’s easy enough, though. They’re celebrating a big deal or something, though you’d have less people there for that I imagine. Then, you have to give a reason for John McClane to be coming from New York to Los Angeles. That’s doable, but also how do you get him to the party? Without him coming across like a jerk bursting into his estranged wife’s workplace some random night?

Other than that, the thing you would miss are little touches. The music. “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.” Various Santa Claus hats. These are fun details, but they could be replaced in a non-Christmas setting. They wouldn’t be as good, though. Plus, in 1988, a Christmas action movie was still fresh. I mean, it was right around the same time as Lethal Weapon, so it became a weird trend for a second there.

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Die Hard would likely still be a great movie even if it wasn’t set at Christmas. However, it wouldn’t be as good. That much is clear. Hans Gruber works 365 days a year as a villain, but Christmas is the time for miracles, and Die Hard is a bit of an action movie miracle.

About Chris Morgan

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