Die Hard: A Christmas Movie


Ah, Christmas. Family, snow, presents, food . . . and Die Hard?

I have just now split the readers of this article into two groups. One of these groups knows that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and the other group believes that it is not. 

If you are unfamiliar, somehow, in 2022, John McTiernan’s Die Hard is one of the most famous (Christmas) movies ever. It stars Bruce Willis as NYPD detective John McClane, and its main setting is a Christmas party at a high-rise office building in Los Angeles. As anyone who’s watched a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine knows, for many people, this is enough to call it a Christmas movie. The main argument against this identification is that there is too much violence in Die Hard for it to be considered truly representative of the holiday. I will point out shortly why this argument falls apart, for about half my article. The other half will be devoted to developing a case for the affirmative. 

You may have already intuited that I believe Die Hard should be considered a Christmas movie. Now, I’m generally not one to force my opinions on others, but this is the rare case where I do. Why? Because I hate double standards. It is absurd to remove Die Hard from the category of “Christmas movies” because there happens to be violence in it. Many agreed-upon Christmas movies, such as Home Alone, contain violence. Sure, the violence in that film is unrealistic and played off as humorous [Ed. Note—have to admit, never got why I was supposed to laugh], but it’s still undeniably there. How about another Christmas classic: White Christmas? That movie has a scene depicting the Battle of the Bulge, a World War II campaign where 155,000 soldiers died! They made an (extremely inaccurate and not very Christmaslike) movie about it. Meanwhile, how many on-screen deaths happen in Die Hard? According to a fan wiki of the series, there are 23. Do I rest my case? You wish.

Christmas movies are allowed to have violence because life is full of hardship, and sometimes that hardship includes violence. Die Hard is simply opening our eyes to the harsh realities of life. There were violent Christmases before Die Hard, too. It was precisely on Christmas night of 1776 when George Washington crossed the Delaware River with 5,400 troops and (much like John McClane, come to think of it) ambushed a bunch of Germans the next day. Without that bloody Christmas, America could not have secured its freedom, John McClane would never have become a fictional NYPD cop, and Hans Gruber would have stolen those bonds from Britain. So is violence in the Christmas spirit? No, but it’s sometimes necessary.

Now I’ll make an actual positive case for Die Hard as a Christmas movie. According to Fandom Entertainment, in the movie, there are 19 separate Christmas trees, 15 instances of Christmas decorations, 12 cases of Christmas carols, 14 uses of the word “Christmas,” and 4 other references to the holiday. How does this compare to other Christmas movies? To keep the comparison going, Home Alone has 7 Christmas trees, 29 decorations, 7 carols, 7 instances of the word “Christmas” being used, and 10 references to Christmas. It’s right up there with one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time, and even manages to surpass it in some aspects.

And for those of you who aren’t number nerds, those stats aren’t even the most Christmas thing about this movie. If you set the violence aside for a second, the movie is about a father traveling across the country to reunite with his kids and make amends with his wife. The first Christmas was about family, and the Christmas depicted in this film is also about family. In fact, Bruce Willis’ determination and perseverance to reunite with his family is so admirable that I’m sure even Dom Toretto would be proud.