This holiday classic “Die Hard” is ready for its proper place beneath the tree.
This last week of the holiday stretch is nicely aligned, as we have about a full week for the final steps of shopping, wrapping, cooking, and other various prep work. For many, the nights of activities will be accompanied by Christmas films playing as we endeavor. Kids will be watching “Home Alone on a loop as the likes of our wives and Kira Davis combing through the Hallmark movies catalog. And men have their selection as well.
The debate about the enshrinement of “Die Hard” into the Christmas holiday canon has started to solidify. Over the years we have reached the point of near-universal acceptance (not “Universal”, as this is a 20th Century Fox property.) Still, there are those holdouts who remain resistant to allowing John McClane into their homes as a yuletide pixie. Well, I am nothing if not a peace merchant, so allow me to help dispel the contempt.
More than relying on brash insistence, I instead decide to close the case by bringing facts. Let’s get definitive. To start, below are the number of elements that support the theory. Then, to solidify things entirely, I’ll offer to you some empirical support from involved individuals. The first key in assessing things is not simply how many Christmas elements are present (pun intended) but how those actually are in service to the plot.
It's time to trot out the holiday classics. pic.twitter.com/TLSlHzVIMj
— Brad Slager: Free Agent for New Social Platform (@MartiniShark) December 19, 2022
Backstory: 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.
- To start, The bulk of the film takes place in one location — and takes place on Christmas Eve.
- On the plane John McClane travels with a teddy bear, a Christmas gift for his daughter.
- 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.
- 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’s wife’s name? HOLLY.
- 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.
- 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. He is adorned thusly:
- While breaking into the vault 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 cut the power to an entire electrical grid. One person debates that doing so will mean shutting off power to the bulk of the city of Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.
- When the FBI cuts the power to the building it 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 top of 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.
- When the end credits come up the soundtrack starts playing the Yuletide classic, ”Let It Snow”.
These are merely touchstone moments I am pointing out. But my testimony does not hold sway without a certain level of confirmation. So, in an effort to avoid being classified as a baseless excitable crank with only second-hand information, I can actually offer up corroborating witness testimony.
First, the general public displays a vested and measurable interest in the film, which 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”, written by Roderick Thorpe. Steven E. de Souza was one of those who worked on the screenplay and he was bidden in 2017 to weigh in on the issue by Jake Tapper. After some lighthearted exchanges, a few days later the writer offered up a helpful chart that displayed his contention on the nature of this film.
— Steven E. de Souza (@StevenEdeSouza) December 27, 2017
Additionally, de Souza adds that during the production there was actually 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. He recounts their conversation.
“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!”