Is ‘Die Hard’ a Christmas movie?

UB students chime in on the cinematic debate

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Christmas is about focusing on what really matters –– whether the film “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie or not.

Since its release in 1988, people have questioned the film’s genre. To many, the movie is considered an action film with tons of guns and explosions. 

But the case that “Die Hard” is actually a Christmas movie is alive and well.

Directed by John McTiernan, “Die Hard” tells the story of NYPD Detective John McClane as he tries to stop a group of German terrorists during a Los Angeles Christmas party. McClane uncovers the group’s plot to steal $640 million in bearer bonds, while protecting his estranged wife, Holly, from the attack.

The film may not sound as though it goes with the Christmas theme, but some argue it is a Christmas movie. UB students are now joining the debate.

Callum Richardson, an undecided freshman, was recently in a heated argument about the film. 

“It’s a f–––––g Christmas movie.” Richardson said. “It’s about a family coming together, there’s a villain similar to the Grinch [and] he has some Christmas-centric puns. I don’t see how you could think it’s not a Christmas movie.”

Jared Zaccari a sophomore civil engineering major, agreed with Richardson, adding that the movie had “themes of family and sacrifice.”

The film is filled with Christmas references. Christmas songs like “Christmas in Hollis” and “Let It Snow” are played throughout the film. The references are even found in the movie’s action sequences. One scene has McClane attaching a gun to his back with packing tape that says “Season’s Greetings” on it. McClane even writes “Ho-Ho-Ho” on a fallen terrorist’s shirt, while gloating that he took the man’s machine gun. 

Richardson and Zaccari have the movie’s screenwriter, Steven E. de Souza, on their side. On Dec. 24, 2017, de Souza tweeted that the movie is in fact a Christmas film. 

In the Twitter post, de Souza also included a link to “A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic,” a picture book based off of the movie.

This development hasn’t stopped any debates, especially since Bruce Willis, the film’s star, shared a dissenting opinion on the matter. During his Comedy Central Roast in 2018, Willis asserted, "Die Hard is not a Christmas movie! It is a g––––––n Bruce Willis movie!"

Lauren Westfall, a freshman speech and hearing sciences major, took Willis’ side of the debate.

“A Christmas movie is a movie surrounding Christmas that you can watch with the whole family.” Westfall said. “It needs to be friendly for all ages, which ‘Die Hard’ is not.”

This comment has sparked a further debate on whether or not Christmas movies necessarily need to be family friendly. Many argue that Christmas stories should not be exclusive to children and families.

“Christmas doesn’t stop at age ten,” Richardson said. “So it’s invalid to say it’s too inappropriate to be a Christmas movie.”

It seems unlikely that moviegoers will ever come to an agreement on whether or not “Die Hard” is a holiday classic. Despite this, viewers can take comfort in the fact that they can still enjoy this thirty-year-old film on Christmas Eve, or any other time of the year.

Julianna Tracey is a contributing writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com