As some of you may know, Bruce Willis recently came out and stated that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas film. Put bluntly Mr Willis, you are wrong.
Die Hard runs through a variety of themes but the overarching theme throughout all of it is a solid Christmas based one. Having researched what people feel makes a Christmas film I’ve come up with a list that I feel can be used as a framework for any films you may feel fall in the Christmas film category:
- It is set around the Christmas period.
- Christmas motifs and themes are displayed throughout and referenced repeatedly by the characters.
- The fact it is Christmas majorly impacts on the actions of the characters.
- The Christmas setting must in some way feel relatable to the audience.
Now there is no doubt that Die Hard is set during the Christmas period. Indeed John McClane arrives on Christmas Eve with the intent of reconciling with his estranged wife, who has her Christmas party that evening. So the first of the criteria is met. Throughout the film are numerous references to it being Christmas, with everything from the decorations to the festive note McClane leaves on Tony’s sweater, that is itself on Tony’s body.
The second of my stipulations has also been met. The fact so many people are in the building is because it is the company Christmas party. John McClane is stressed from travelling on Christmas Eve, indeed the thieves masquerading as terrorists play on it being Christmas with all the hostages they’ve taken when dealing with the police. I’d say as such the fact it is Christmas is essential to the setting and the actions of the characters in the film.
Finally, we have the fact we can all relate in some way to wanting to be with the ones we love during the holidays. Even if we can’t directly relate to having to fight off a coordinated group of heavily armed, German thieves. That wish to be together, to be with those we love, to have the family unit be a whole as this special occasion comes around, is one that speaks to many of us. As such, I feel number four on my list has been met.
Many will say I’m wrong, that it’s an action film. Why can’t it be both though? To my mind, having conducted extensive research this holiday season to compare and contrast a plethora of Christmas films, I feel there is no such genre as Christmas movies. I feel it is an encompassing framework that can be applied to any film that meets the right criteria. You can be any genre of film and yet still be a Christmas movie.
Indeed I’d go a step further and say there are films that don’t meet the criteria yet becomes Christmas movies through association. A good example is that during Christmas time James Bond films are often played. Now they are not Christmas movies, but it has become almost tradition to see them on TV during the Christmas period.
Much like camellia sinensis is the only plant that actually produces tea, yet we have many others that we refer to as tea, such as chamomile, only certain movies meet the actual criteria but we accept others due to their association.
Really what I’m saying is, I’m sorry Mr Willis but you’re wrong, Die Hard is a Christmas movie.