Martin Deer explains why Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time…
Christmas. That wonderful time of year when we receive gifts, the hero loses to the evil villain and we realise just how much we hate our family and lose faith in ourselves and fellow man. Wait, no, that’s wrong. Christmas is about the opposite of those things, and Christmas movies are there to tell wonderful festive tales which affirm these values. There are many Christmas films, but only one deserves to be classed as THE Christmas film, the Rudolph of the pack – Die Hard!
“Die Hard you say? This is madness dear boy, blasphemy! It’s about terrorists and is just another action movie, it has nothing to do with Christmas.” Wrong, wrong and wrong my dear readers, oh so wrong – Die Hard is as Christmas as you can get.
So what sets Die Hard apart from the likes of Scrooge, It’s a Wonderful Life and all those other classics? Well, I’ll tell you…
Every good Christmas movie needs a character who goes against the good spirited Christmas values. The Grinch, Scrooge, The Wet Bandits, Stripe from Gremlins – they’re all great villains yes, and serve as excellent foils to our heroes, but actually they’re just not that evil are they? The Grinch and Scrooge end up becoming good people, Baldy and Curly have their plans foiled by a sweet and innocent Macaulay Culkin, TWICE, and Stripe is destroyed by Sunlight. Not to mention if you don’t get a Gremlin wet or feed him after midnight (seriously how hard is that?) you never end up with those evil little buggers to begin with. Whereas Die Hard has Hans Gruber, a German terrorist with a slick European accent and a penchant for death. He’s happy to ruin everyone’s Christmas when he plans on stealing from the good people of Nakatomi, having the FBI shut down the power to millions of homes and killing a few people. He’s evil, people, evil, and your hate for this guy makes you root for the hero unlike any other Christmas film out there. And that’s not even mentioning slimy journalist Richard Thornburg.
Christmas is all about giving. Whether this be in the form of presents or your time, it’s all about putting a smile on someone’s face as you put them before yourself. Happiness is the reward for selflessness. Many Christmas films have characters that do this, however, Die Hard gives us a protagonist who literally puts his life on the line for others – hundreds of others. In fact he puts his body on the front line to protect the lives of others and save the day. He gets shot at, has his feet cut up by glass and almost loses his wife. He acts selflessly when he could have sat back, thought of himself and waited in safety out of harm’s way and left it up to the authorities to act, but he does the right thing and he is rewarded for this at the end. Our antagonists are also rewarded however for their acts of theft, murder and selfishness. Hans gets dropped from a skyscraper to certain death and Thornburg gets socked in the face by Mrs McClane on national TV. Great work Santa.
Is Die Hard a film about terrorists and a man willing to fight back for what’s right amid explosions and gunfire, or is it about a man who just wants to get back with his woman, make up for his wrongdoings to her and be together with their kids on Christmas? Well, we’ve just established that John McClane takes action to do the right thing and so clearly it is the latter. Die Hard is about the importance of family and admitting you were wrong and saying; “I’m sorry”. It’s just a coincidence that he drops C4 down an elevator shaft, jumps off a skyscraper as all hell erupts behind him and pops some guy straight between the eyes. Just a very happy, awesome coincidence.
Believing in yourself and others is something we all must do in life. We get nowhere by being cynical and untrusting. Throughout the course of Die Hard, John strikes up a friendship with someone he’s never met before. The guy on the other end of the phone has absolutely no reason to believe him but decides to trust him on faith and instinct alone, which works out well for everyone involved doesn’t it? Then there’s the fact that our second hero, Al the Cop, has had a crisis of faith recently when during the course of his job he made a mistake – a mistake that he blames himself for too much – and is unable to fire his weapon as a result, and thus be an effective police officer. That is until, through his friendship with John, he is able to become more confident and finally has a moment to redeem himself and his confidence whilst saving the hero by taking down some crazy son of a bitch with 3 slugs to the chest. Was it 3? Oh who cares, you go, Al!
So there you have it, the next time anyone tells you Die Hard isn’t the best Christmas film – or even a Christmas film at all, if they are that crazy – throw this article at them whilst yelling “Yippie kayay”
Merry Christmas, you filthy animals. Wait, wrong franchise.