by Sheri Urban
Three decades later and Americans have still not settled this most pressing question: Does Bruce Willis blasting his way through German terrorist baddies in “Die Hard” constitute a Christmas movie? This latest poll from The Hollywood Reporter says yes, it is.
The poll, launched on Monday, now has an 86% “Yes” vote versus just 14% in the “No” – 1,166 votes over 182.
There is perhaps nothing greater for a movie studio in terms of financial dividends than to enter the Christmas movie market, which practically guarantees a helpful portion of re-viewing and rebuys and rerents on an annual basis. This would best explain why one of the film’s screenwriters, Steven E. de Souza, tweeted in 2017 that “Die Hard” is indeed a Christmas movie when CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked him to weigh in.
“I’m sure you weighed in on it before, but I’ve never heard you or Jeb Stuart offer your take on whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie,” Tapper tweeted.
“Yes, because the studio rejected the Purim draft,” responded de Souza. “Plus a woman about to give birth features prominently.”
Even Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) jumped into the fray when he launched his own social media poll in 2017, which also seemed to confirm that the broader swath of the American public agrees that “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.
Opponents to the pro-Christmas movie argument typically argue that “Die Hard” is simply a good movie that takes place on Christmas, often citing the fact that Fox released it in July as a summer blockbuster and that the Los Angeles setting lessens the presence of traditional Christmas imagery, namely snow. Even the film’s titular star, Bruce Willis, seemed to agree with those in the opposition.
“’Die Hard’ is not a Christmas movie. It’s a goddamn Bruce Willis movie,” Willis declared during his July 2018 Comedy Central roast.
To be fair, Bruce Willis may have simply meant that as a troll, given the setting in which he said it.
So, if “Die Hard” were a Christmas movie, what arguments best elevate it to that status rather than just an action movie that takes place on Christmas? Writing at The Federalist, David Breitenbeck argued that the movie’s themes of family, redemption, and materialism all in some way reflect a theme related to Christmas:
Since the question hinges on there being a difference between a Christmas movie proper and a movie set around Christmas, it seems that a Christmas movie proper is a film that has some thematic element of Christmas as a central part of its story, while also linking this theme with the Christmas holiday itself. For instance, generosity and kindness are Christmas themes, but a film is not a Christmas movie for featuring them, only if they are linked with the Christmas season (otherwise something like “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” would be considered a Christmas movie).
So a Christmas movie is a movie specifically about Christmas and the related ideas of love, generosity, family, and so on. “Miracle on 34th Street” is a Christmas movie, not only because it is set during Christmas and features Santa Claus, but because it is all about putting innocence, generosity, and kindness ahead of modern cynicism and consumerism.
It would be going too far to say that “Die Hard” has the same moral premise as “Miracle on 34th Street,” but it wouldn’t be wholly inaccurate either, because “Die Hard” is all about the clash between love and materialism.
What do you think? Is Die Hard a Christmas movie, or not? Let us know in the comments below.