Establishing a Holiday Classic — All the Proof That 'Die Hard' Is a Christmas Film

Let us place this argument to rest – it IS a holiday classic

It has become an annual tradition this time of year: on social media people take a break from arguing over pizza toppings, or whether hot dogs are classified as a sandwich and instead focus on debating over the reality of the movie “Die Hard” being a Christmas movie. Well, I am nothing if not a peace merchant, so allow me to help with the contempt.

More than making a bold stance, I choose instead to bring facts. Let’s get definitive. Below are a number of elements that support the theory, followed by support from involved individuals. The key in assessing things is how many Christmas elements are not just present (pun intended) but actually are in service to the plot.

The film is centered on John McClane, a New York police officer traveling to California. He and his wife have separated and she has taken an executive position with a corporation in Los Angeles. Cue the glad tidings.

  • On board the plane John is seen traveling with a teddy bear, a Christmas gift for his daughter.
  • Soon after John’s wife is on the phone with their daughter, who asks if her father will be there for Christmas. She answers with, “We’ll see what Mommy and Santa can do.”
  • John arrives at the airport and he meets his young limo driver, who compliments his bear. The driver is named ARGYLE, after the traditional Christmas gift of socks.
  • In the limo Argyle cranks up the volume to a rap song. John asks, ‘’Don’t you have any Christmas music?’’ Argyle informs him that this is Christmas music, as he is playing Christmas In Hollis, by Run DMC. 
  • The bulk of the film takes place during a single day — on Christmas Eve.
  • John goes to his wife’s workplace, where they are staging the iconic Christmas party. This party is crucial to the plans of the terrorists accessing the building. John is greeted by one office worker with a kiss, as he says ‘’Merry Christmas’’.
  • John’s wife’s name? HOLLY.
  • Ellis is the office negotiator, and also a cocky stooge. He is seen at Holly’s desk doing a line of cocaine – also known as “snow”.
  • After taking control of Nakatomi Plaza, the building is surrounded by police, who attempt to get inside. As they do, Theo, the tech expert with the terrorists, is watching their action on the monitors, and reports to the team thusly: “All right, listen up guys. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except… the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.”
  • John McClane takes out the first terrorist, and sends him down the elevator for the terrorist group to find. On his sweatshirt McClane has written – ‘’Now I have a machine gun HO-HO-HO’’.
  • When opening the vault’s layers Theo radios to Hans Gruber, saying that breaking through the last stage will take a miracle. Hans responds back with, “It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of miracles. So be of good cheer… and call me when you hit the last lock.”The FBI agents demand the Utility company on scene cuts the power to an entire electrical grid. One person debates that will involve shutting off power to the bulk of the city of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.
  • When the FBI cuts the power to the building that disables the final lock on the vault, and it opens for the terrorists. Theo stands up and in awe says, “Merry Christmas!”
  • At one stage the terrorists intend for the hostages to be moved by helicopter, so they guide them to the helipad on the building – in other words, Up On The Rooftop.
  • In the penultimate face off with the terrorists McClane seemingly gives up, but we see a gun affixed on his back, held in place with Happy Holidays packing tape.
  • As everyone is exiting the building safely following the explosion clouds of paper are falling, a metaphorical snow scene for the finale.
  • This imagery is further frozen in place as the credits come up with the closing song, the holiday classic ‘’Let It Snow’’.

20th Century Fox has fully embraced the Christmas tie-in. It released an anniversary edition of the DVD, with box cover art that replicates a tacky Christmas sweater. (Should anyone produce this version with lighters and choppers, it will be in my holiday rotation.)

 For a good laugh the studio cut a new trailer for this release, making it appear as if it were a 90s-era comedic holiday romp. The voice-over work and the editing are hilariously perfect.

These are merely touchstone moments I am pointing out. But my testimony does not hold sway without a certain level of confirmation from those who created the film. So, in an effort to avoid being classified as a baseless whistleblower with only circumstantial information, I can actually offer up corroborating witness testimony.

First, the general public displays a vested and measurable interest in the film, one that spikes in December. It is streamed heavily this time of year, while also making cable television schedules.  This trend is similar to other widely accepted Christmas titles. 

The film was adapted by two screenwriters, from the novel “Nothing Lasts Forever”. Steven E. de Souza was one of those who worked on the screenplay and he was bidden in 2018 to weigh in on the issue. The writer offered up a helpful chart that displayed his contention on the nature of this film.

Additionally, de Souza adds that during the production there was mention of the film being established as a holiday favorite. Producer Joel Silver was on set one day and he remarked that the film was poised to become a yearly holiday tradition.

While we were shooting the movie, producer Joel Silver predicted it would play perennially on television during Christmas,” recalled de Souza, who co-wrote the script with Jeb Stuart, based on a novel by Roderick Thorp. Seeing all the Christmas decorations, it hit me how he was probably right,” de Souza said.

That is as strong an indicator as you need — prior to its release the people behind the film’s production saw it as holiday fare. So go forth, and feel free to indulge deeply in the festivity while watching John McClane heroically save the holiday.

And for those who disputed this as a holiday classic, all that can be said is one thing — “Welcome to the party, Pal”!