Die Hard Data
December 20, 2018 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Like it or not, the association between Die Hard and Christmas is fast increasing and in years to come its Christmassyness will be beyond question. Future generations will read in wonder that Die Hard was ever thought not to be a Christmas movie and articles such as the one you’re reading now will be seen as nothing but a massive waste of everyone’s time. From Using data to determine if Die Hard is a Christmas movie by Stephen Follows posted by chavenet (69 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Future generations will read in wonder that Die Hard was ever thought not to be a Christmas movie and articles such as the one you’re reading now will be seen as nothing but a massive waste of everyone’s time. Imagine that!

The thing is: Die Hard is a really good movie. I re-watched it earlier this year and it definitely holds up. It rides the line between glacial thriller pacing and modern action pacing and does a great job of setting up and paying off. So satisfying.

And it's undeniably Christmasy. There's so much on-demand entertainment now that if a seasonal excuse is what it takes to generate interest, you've got to ride it.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:13 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Everything else is fake news.
posted by AugustWest at 5:26 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


You didn't link 20th Century Fox's 30th Anniversary recut trailer that turns it into a heartwarming Christmas movie! It's super official now.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:26 AM on December 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


The graphic novel treatment - A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic
posted by zakur at 5:58 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Die Hard: Christmas movie
Batman Returns: Christmas movie
Lethal Weapon: Christmas movie
The Long Kiss Goodnight: not a Christmas movie
Reindeer Games: Christmas movie, but sucks
Gremlins: Christmas movie
Brazil: set around Christmas, not a Christmas movie
Trading Places: Christmas movie, of course
Edward Scissorhands: Christmas movie
Eyes Wide Shut: not a Christmas movie
It's a Wonderful Life: not a Christmas movie, but one of my favorite movies to watch around Christmas and don't you dare take that away from me

Bonus round:
My Favorite Things: not a Christmas song
Hard Candy Christmas: not a Christmas song
Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk on Christmas): Christmas song
Baby it's Cold Outside: not a Christmas song, just a winter song, and sucks
Jingle Bells, Let it Snow, Sleigh Bells: of course these are Christmas songs, don't be an asshole
What Are You Doing New Years: not a Christmas song
Fairytale of New York: Christmas song
Happy Xmas (War is Over): Christmas song, sucks the most
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: song about a man murdering his wife, framing a fictional character, and gaslighting his grandchild about it; Christmas song, also sucks
posted by penduluum at 6:05 AM on December 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


Eyes Wide Shut: not a Christmas movie

There's a christmas tree in almost every scene! Seems christmassy to me
posted by dis_integration at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. It's an Alan Rickman movie.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:10 AM on December 20, 2018 [13 favorites]


Set at Christmas (or could plausibly be set around Christmas) is a necessary but not sufficient condition of being a Christmas movie. That's my position.
posted by penduluum at 6:11 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Holiday Inn, White Christmas: not Christmas movies
posted by penduluum at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


turns it into a heartwarming Christmas movie

The heartwarming story of a washed-up patrol cop who learns to kill again!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:15 AM on December 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


But is it a sandwich?
posted by Fizz at 6:19 AM on December 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it's a Christmas movie. And since movies can only be one thing, it is ONLY a Christmas movie and not also a genre defining, tight, action movie. /sarcasm

Enjoy it as a Christmas movie, enjoy it as an action movie, or both, or neither. How you experience a movie doesn't preclude me from enjoying that same movie for other reasons.

Now let's do a similar exercise to prove that, as noted mefite Artlung says, the best Batman movie is Die Hard with A Vengeance.

I would LOVE to see a Batman movie that sticks as close to the Die Hard with A Vengeance script. The Riddle (though he is not revealed as such to anyone but the audience) sets up the heist/bombs and specifically requests Bruce Wayne to play his little game. Bruce now has to try and foil the Riddler's plot while not revealing that he's not just some rich playboy.

It works even better as a Batman movie because after the ship gets blown up you can send Bruce home where he can come back as Batman to take down the Riddler in his lair instead of the weird McLain with a .38 revolver vs. a .50 caliber machine gun equipped helicopter.

PS: Rewatch the movie and note that Detective Joe Lambert (played by Graham Green) is the best detective in that department. He provides nearly every helpful bit of information in the whole movie and it takes him about five seconds to find it every time. Had they just put him on the case it would have been a 30 minute movie.
posted by VTX at 6:20 AM on December 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


If it wasn't a Christmas movie, would you be able to make an ornament?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:24 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Solved: Die Hard is a Christmas movie.
Unsolved: why the uncanny valley hellscape of The Polar Express remains popular.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:29 AM on December 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


Hellraiser is a Christmas movie. It’s “Night of the paper hats,” paper hats come in Xmas crackers, so
posted by rodlymight at 6:44 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Actually, it’s “Die Hard’s Monster.” Die Hard was the name of the scientist.
posted by gc at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2018 [29 favorites]


Christmas is a Die Hard watching season.
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Jingle Bells, Let it Snow, Sleigh Bells: of course these are Christmas songs, don't be an asshole

<pedant> Jingle Bells actually was intended as a Thanksgiving song. </pedant>
posted by madcaptenor at 6:49 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Die Hard was originally a pagan movie.
posted by explosion at 6:58 AM on December 20, 2018 [14 favorites]


Talking of movies for Christmas, can you believe that Flash Gordon (1980) has never made it to Fanfare? Who fancies a Fanfare Flashtravaganza this Xmas?
posted by biffa at 6:59 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Christmas movie*

*according to this hugely misleading home media cover art
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:00 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I used to think When Harry Met Sally was a Christmas movie but it is actually a New Year's movie.
posted by wellred at 7:01 AM on December 20, 2018


Die Hard is the boy. McClane is the name of the building.
posted by glonous keming at 7:02 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Christmas movie*

*according to this hugely misleading home media cover art


I've always associated Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Thanksgiving but I also consider it more of a "Holiday" film, about the end of the year.
posted by Fizz at 7:11 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


This poindexter is overthinking things with “data” and is heretofore banned from watching Die Hard ever again.

Die Hard is a film that many people want to watch at Christmastime, therefore it is a Christmas movie. Period.

By this same logic, most Star Wars movies are also Christmas movies, but especially Return of the Jedi.

You know who else used data to overthink things? Thornburg and the LAPD. McClane and Sgt Powell would know in their gut this was a Christmas movie.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:12 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. It's an Alan Rickman movie.

Not just an Alan Rickman movie. It is Alan Rickman's *first movie*. It also transformed Bruce Willis from comedic actor on Moonlighting into an action star. This movie contains magic and miracles. It is a gift.

But hey, we contain multitudes. Enjoy it as whatever you see it as. Or don't, if it isn't your thing - I don't like most of the "traditional" Christmas movies, so yeah.

Just know that John McClane will always welcome you to the party, pal.
posted by nubs at 7:38 AM on December 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Happy Xmas (War is Over): Christmas song, sucks the most

This. Just yesterday I was thinking about how much I hate the Beatles (there, I finally said it), then this song came on. A thousand times this.
posted by slogger at 7:39 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Die Hard Q&A - Jeb Stuart - Steven E de Souza - essential listening on this matter.
posted by Artw at 7:46 AM on December 20, 2018


To clarify some notes in the article: Trading Places is not a Christmas Movie because it is so strongly a New Years movie. Home Alone is basically just Die Hard in a house.
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Last night my fiancée saw Die Hard for the first time. I am hardcore on the "yes it's a Christmas movie" side, and she was... not. Her way of putting it was that, of action movies, it's the most Christmas-y one that you'd ever want to rewatch, but that it's like asking which vegetable would go best in a dessert: you can answer the question and with care come out with something quality, but you still wouldn't categorize vegetables as "dessert" foods.

My counter-argument is that it ends with "Let It Snow" playing.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:49 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sure, there's no snow in Die Hard, but at the end LA does get a light dusting of untraceable bearer bonds, which is nearly the same thing.
posted by ckape at 8:01 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Going by Hallmark standards, Christmas movies must have snow, but Die Hard does not have snow. Not a Christmas movie.

Die Hard 2, on the other hand...
posted by tobascodagama at 8:02 AM on December 20, 2018


Jake Tapper took to Twitter last year to make the case in an epic poem

(Which reminds of a detail I heard about the film - that look of panic on Rickman's face as he falls? Apparently, they told him they would release him on the count of three, and then dropped him on two instead, to try to get a spontaneous reaction. Other bits of trivia from the IMDB page - the scene where Gruber and McClane meet was inserted into the script after it was learned that Rickman was adept at doing American accents; that scene was also unrehearsed so as to get a sense of spontaneity.)
posted by nubs at 8:05 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Tenuous Die Hard / Christmas connection that I thought of while sitting through a choral performance last week: the composer of "Silent Night" was a German by the name of Franz Gruber. Is it possible that the name Hans Gruber was inspired by the name Franz Gruber? Well, sure, it's possible, right?
posted by emelenjr at 8:11 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


(My god, Die Hard is 30 years old. There's a theatre near me showing it, I suspect because of (a) Christmas movie for some and (b) 30th anniversary. And now I see that the detail about Rickman being dropped slightly early was in one of the articles in the main post. Apologies; I jumped too early).
posted by nubs at 8:12 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Home Alone is basically just Die Hard in a house.

Oh my god, Kevin McCallister, tired of always being forgotten by his neglectful family every damn holiday, finally runs away from home as a teenager and changes his name to John McClane only to find himself a Sisyphean adult vigilante cruelly condemned by fate to fight criminals every Christmas for all eternity.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:18 AM on December 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Sure, there's no snow in Die Hard, but at the end LA does get a light dusting of untraceable bearer bonds, which is nearly the same thing.

Also the cocaine.
posted by slogger at 8:36 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I hope you will all come to see my future Christmas mash-up film that takes elements from two beloved holiday films - I call it "Die, Actually..."
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:32 AM on December 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


The most important question I have is not whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. (it is.) My truly pressing, important question is whether it would be irresponsible for me, as a parent, to allow my 9-year-old son to watch Die Hard with me this year during my traditional annual viewing of the film.

Metafilter, please tell me, is this year the Right Year for the child to learn the joys of Die Hard?
posted by caution live frogs at 9:40 AM on December 20, 2018


As another parent of a nine-year-old, I would advise waiting - there's a lot of language and gore that I don't want to expose my kid to just yet. But everyone's kids are different.
posted by nubs at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2018


I am going to devote the rest of my life to developing terrible reality-shaping powers just so I can banish this eternal holiday argument to the cornfield, along with endless hot takes about Baby It's Cold Outside.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. It's an Alan Rickman movie.

Truly, Madly, Deeply is the other Rickman Christmassy/Winter movie.
posted by bonehead at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2018


Last Action Hero is just a bad movie.

Is he crazy? He must be crazy, what type of madman throws down that take and expects me to take him seriously ever again?
posted by Carillon at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nope. And I will never trust or take seriously the opinions of people who say it is.

You have been warned.

Also, does this red velvet suit with white fur trim make me look fat?
posted by evilDoug at 11:07 AM on December 20, 2018


Hello I too have a 9 year old. I don't exactly regret showing him Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo but I had a lot of trouble finding the right way to explain why Cartman's "Kyle's Mom is Big Fat Bitch" song is both funny and problematic. Parents, at least pre-screen these things before sharing them.

I know you think Raiders of the Lost Ark is great fun, but the depiction of Arabs in the market is hella racist without context, and dudes' faces melt into a bloody mess at the end. I make these parenting mistakes so you don't have to.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Apparently taking place during a Christmas party on Christmas Eve, where one of the sub-plots involve the kids being home alone during Christmas eve and the parents wanting to get back to them isn't enough for some people for it to be a Christmas movie?
posted by Carillon at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


dudes' faces melt into a bloody mess at the end.

At least for that as a kid I was told to cover my eyes for the ark scene. When I saw it later in college I was surprised at how gruesome it was.
posted by Carillon at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2018


My ten-year-old has been begging to see Die Hard. I've been on the fence, since I pretty much let him watch anything. My wife has been against, mainly due to drug use.
posted by slogger at 11:24 AM on December 20, 2018


Apparently taking place during a Christmas party on Christmas Eve, where one of the sub-plots involve the kids being home alone during Christmas eve and the parents wanting to get back to them isn't enough for some people for it to be a Christmas movie?

They also say "Merry Christmas" a bunch.

But the movie is not really *about* christmas. You could edit out the christmas and Die Hard would still be Die Hard.

But see, the same could be said about Home Alone.
posted by dis_integration at 11:25 AM on December 20, 2018


Well sure it could, they're going on their summer vacation to Florida, oops where's Kevin? You might have to do something different with the ice, but otherwise it'd still be Home Alone.

Edit: whoops misread! sorry.
posted by Carillon at 11:30 AM on December 20, 2018


I hope you will all come to see my future Christmas mash-up film that takes elements from two beloved holiday films - I call it "Die, Actually..."

'Undie Actually' might make more sense, with the lovelorn and deeply out-of-order Mark from Love Actually reinventing his whole life as US based Law Enforcement Officer Rick Grimes, only for things to go wrong quite badly. This could also feature Martin Freeman's character getting work on speciality porn movie 'The Wanking Dead'.
posted by biffa at 12:08 PM on December 20, 2018


My ten-year-old has been begging to see Die Hard. I've been on the fence, since I pretty much let him watch anything. My wife has been against, mainly due to drug use.

Though to be fair, the only drug use is by Ellis, who is consistently made fun of for it (by both McClane - "missed a spot" - and Gruber's team bringing him a can of coke during their "negotiation.") And then when he dies, it's actually as a fairly realistic consequence of cocaine use (complete overconfidence, failure to read a room, and assumption that you are the center of the universe.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:05 PM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


20th Century Fox's 30th Anniversary recut trailer that turns it into a heartwarming Christmas movie

How did I not make the Holly/holly connection before now?
posted by kokaku at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2018


Also, Die Hard is the quintessential 80s movie with pretty much every 80s trope you can think of packed into one explosive package.
posted by kokaku at 2:09 PM on December 20, 2018


I've been debating with myself whether John McClane in Die Hard is a grown-up Ralphie from A Christmas Story or Kevin from Home Alone. But now this year, I wouldn't rule out Cyndi Lou Who...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:44 PM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


In Bruges, people, In Bruges!

(warning: the protagonists are kind of assholes and there is one godawful line that should've been cut that makes me really cringe, so I guess it's the praemunire cut I support in this fight)
posted by praemunire at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2018


Due to double hipster backlash the situation now is that if you suggest watching Die Hard around Christmastime people will basically treat you as they would a person who frequently quotes memes in conversation. But it's still a really good movie so idk. I've gotta find some way to suggest watching it but play dumb and act like I don't realize it's a Christmas movie.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:35 PM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


vogon_poet, just point out that it's the films thirtieth anniversary, and you're wondering how it holds up. If someone brings up the idea of Die Hard being a Christmas film, act surprised at the idea. Tell them your name is Clay...Bill Clay.
posted by nubs at 5:13 AM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm on a group chat where we basically had to add an entire channel in which to rehash this argument periodically (channel also includes: GIF vs JIF, furbies just as a concept, weird ways to eat popcorn, food crimes generally) - and I'm pretty sure next year I'm going to get someone that Die Hard Illustrated Christmas book just to mess with her.

The last time it came up, we started working on one of those D&D style alignment charts, but for holiday movies. (Weirdly enough, it's the only one on which I'm probably chaotic evil. LotR is one of my holiday movies, and idgaf.)
posted by epersonae at 8:55 AM on December 21, 2018


weird ways to eat popcorn

I don’t want to ask, but I have to know...
posted by Etrigan at 10:04 AM on December 21, 2018


But the movie is not really *about* christmas. You could edit out the christmas and Die Hard would still be Die Hard.

But see, the same could be said about Home Alone.


I see your point, but I am not sure they would have the same staying power. There is always an added layer of stress to the holidays. Making it home for Christmas is going to be more stressful than making it home for labor day/memorial day/independence day. If the Die Hard was set on those days or other big annual events (so, excluding childbirth, marriage, etc.), I believe it becomes one more action movie released in July. But, making it home for Christmas is a BigFuckinDeal (/biden) for a lot of families.

(n.b. Pre 9/11, my parents paid to fly me from St. Louis to Houston after I got off work at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve to return to St. Louis at 10 p.m. on Christmas Day, so I could be back at work the day after Christmas at 6 a.m. just so "we could be together on Christmas as a family". It was not worth the loss of sleep or the hell of airline travel even prior to 9/11 standards. )

Home Alone (which I have never liked, so I am not defending it) loses, in my opinion, any way to suspend disbelief if it is not set during the holidays. It already stretches the imagination that that particular stereotype of a family would forget their boy. But, it also needs to be set during the holidays, so the burglars have a sufficient cause to rob, since it is far more likely that neighborhood would be clear of people on expensive trips.

(I think I have seen Home Alone only once because the way they applied the slapstick comedy was not to my tastes, so I may have many details wrong on that part.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 3:55 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Watching it right now I think for the first time since I saw it first run. Forgot how well written it is.
posted by octothorpe at 6:11 PM on December 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Love how slow and deliberate the first half hour is.
posted by octothorpe at 6:21 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


So many lens flares.
posted by octothorpe at 7:59 PM on December 21, 2018


It would take a miracle to get past the electromagnetics and thus Die Hard could only take place during Christmas, the time of miracles.
posted by ckape at 8:45 AM on December 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Watching it right now I think for the first time since I saw it first run. Forgot how well written it is.

Every time I watch the movie I have such great appreciation for just how *tight* the whole movie is. There is basically zero wasted screen time. Most lines are important to the story and there are very few holes in the plot. The guy Mclane sits next to on the plane helps establish that John is a cop and gives him a reason to get down to bare feet. When we're meeting noted coke fiend Ellis near the beginning he points out Holly's Rolex watch as a symbol of her success and the company's appreciation just so that we can remember the watch when John snaps it off Holly's write to send Hans falling to his death at the end. Holly comes to John's room while he's barefoot because it's the first chance she's gotten to talk to him face-to-face since she left New York and they fight which keeps him from putting his shoes back on and leads her to tip the picture of her family on her desk face down. Later, Hans notices that it's face down and it's his confirmation that he's found a hostage Mclane cares about.

The whole movie is full of that sort of stuff.
posted by VTX at 8:43 AM on December 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Most modern movies of this budget go through so many rewrites and re-edits due to egos and studio interference that they're never this tight by the time they get to the screen. Directors end up shooting scenes from one screenplay and other scenes from a different revisions and then the studio comes in and rewrites half the movie in post production and re-shoots without the director's involvement. That's why we end up with weird motivations that come out of nowhere and harsh scene transitions causes by late edits that delete or add scenes . That's also how we end up with 140 minute movies because directors don't seem to know how to add plot-points economically and end up having long boring scenes of exposition that pad the run-time.

The scene on the plane is over before the 2:00 minute mark but we've already got three major plot points setup.
posted by octothorpe at 10:18 AM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


My Christmas tradition has been to watch Die Hard on the flight to visit my parents, and last year it was one of options on the seatback screen thing, so I decided to watch that instead of getting out my laptop. Turns out to have been a foolish decision because it's the TV edit, which cuts both for time and content. Mostly just made it clear how little you can actually cut from Die Hard. John's escape from the terrorists at the beginning became inexplicable without the R-rated distraction, and trimming down the radio conversation while John's tending to his feet takes away Al's arc.
posted by ckape at 10:32 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, you got to hear the infamous "Yippie ki-yay, Mr. Farmer" line, so you've got that going for you, which is nice.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:52 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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