Or, Is Die Hard A Christmas Movie?
The debate rages on: is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Some playfully say yes, some are adamant that it absolutely is. (We'll admit we are not above trolling. Our first official Flicks With Friends watch along 2 years ago was a Christmas-time viewing of Die Hard.) Others say no of course not. Don't be silly. And how dare you sully my holiday with your silly action movie! And other things. And each year the divide between these two camps gets wider and deeper than that elevator shaft.
But is it really? What elements makes a film "Christmassy" enough to be classified a Christmas film? And does Die Hard meet those parameters? To truly answer the question, you'd have to break down all the elements of the film (wonderfully done Here by Stephen Follows) dissect Christmas movies, then cross check the two. Take for example, the script for Die Hard. Not only is it a taught action thriller, it references Christmas. A lot. The word "Christmas" appears 18 times, more than the words "explode" (4), "shoot" (12), "kill" (13) and "blood" (13), though not as much as "terrorist" (51). His wife's name is Holly. The intent was obviously there from the beginning to set the film at and deal with the events of Christmastime. (The screenwriter has flatly come out and said as much, that Die Hard IS a Christmas movie.) McClaine is trying to get home to his family for Christmas despite some obstacles. This makes it a holiday film just like Planes Trains and Automobiles is a holiday film.
On the flip side, the movie was released in July, and features no mention of Christmas on it's poster, arguably the strongest tool studios have to lure us into watching. Research suggests it's only been since 2009 when Live Free or Die Hard hit theatres (also in July) that the "Christmas Culture" sprung up around the movie. Web searches show that interest in Die Hard spikes every holiday season, but only in the last ten years or so, which indicates that maybe this wasn't the original intent, and is just a thing that has sprouted up around the movie since the birth of the net. Even Fox has gotten in on the act with the newest trailer for the film, purposely cut to seem like it is a Christmas movie.
So who's right? Is it a Christmas movie or not? Realistically, who cares? Let people celebrate the way they want. In the end it doesn't matter, just like some people have Turkey and some people have Ham. Some prefer Pumpkin Pie and others like Sweet Potato. The Holidays have enough stress associated with them already, if it puts some people in a festive mood to kick back and watch John McClane take out terrorists instead of that Christmas Story marathon, then let them have it.
After All... It's Christmas.