“Die Hard” will never be a Christmas movie


Ryan Funderburg, Editor in Chief

In Esquire Magazine’s “Top 57 Christmas Movies” list, “Die Hard” is ranked number 26– ahead of “The Polar Express” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Seeing that this movie is even labeled as a Christmas movie makes me mad. Why? Because “Die Hard” is not a Christmas Movie. 

For those who have never seen “Die Hard”, it is an action/thriller about a New York police detective John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, who while visiting his wife at her office Christmas party in Los Angeles encounters twelve German bank robber terrorists. McClane becomes a one-man wrecking crew who fights to stop their attack and save the day.

The ongoing debate of whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie always seems to peak around this time of year, so, I have drafted my top three reasons why John McTiernan’s “Die Hard” is not a Christmas movie.


Too Much Violence

In the first “Die Hard” movie alone there are 10 people who are killed. Out of those 10, five were shot, two fell to their death, two were in an explosion and one broke his neck. Also, according to Stephen Follows, a film data website, the word “Christmas” was only used 18 times throughout the movie, while the word gun was used 73 times and terrorist 51. Now you tell me, is all this shooting and violence showing the essence of the Christmas Spirit?

Release Date

“Die Hard” should not be considered as a Christmas movie due to its release date. Around 70% of the Christmas movies out now were released five to seven weeks before Christmas Day while the rest were released in September and October. But, when was “Die Hard” released? July 15, 1988.

The Tagline

The tagline on the front of the “Die Hard” movie poster says the following: 

“High above the city of L.A. a team of terrorists has seized a building, taken hostages and declared war. One man has managed to escape… An off duty cop hiding somewhere inside. He’s alone, tired… and the only chance anyone has got.”

Notice how there is no mention of anything that has to do with Christmas. 

People who say “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie argue that because the film is set on Christmas Eve and that there is Christmas music played throughout the movie, it qualifies as a Christmas movie. Yes, “Die Hard” has aspects similar to apparent Christmas movies like the value of family, a Grinch-Esque villain and the idea of good over evil– but, the movie also has lots of shooting and killing.

There is also a debate about the 1992 classic movie, “Home Alone,” which is similar to “Die Hard” because it too takes place on Christmas, but doesn’t really have anything to do with the holiday. “Home Alone” is usually farther up on most people’s Christmas movie rankings, including mine. I think there is a difference between a young boy making two robbers slip and fall on toy trucks and a grown man shooting and killing people.

Don’t get me wrong, I love “Die Hard”. It is a great movie filled with non-stop action that is perfect for a rainy day in July, but grouping it with movies like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Elf” makes no sense. There is a clear difference between a Christmas movie and a movie that contains Christmas. “Die Hard” contains Christmas

If you haven’t seen “Die Hard” I strongly suggest you watch it and see how much you feel in the holiday mood (which I promise you won’t). Then, you can decide for yourself whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie and be able to weigh in on the debate.