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12th Dec 2016

Does Die Hard count as a Christmas movie?

A festive yet Pointless Debate.

Rich Cooper

This is Pointless Debate, where we argue the toss about stuff that really doesn’t matter, but actually really matters a lot. This time we’re squabbling about…

Die Hard: does it count as a Christmas film?

There’s no question that Die Hard is a stone cold classic. Bruce Willis running around a skyscraper, taking down terrorists and dishing out witty quips, while Alan Rickman gives one of cinema’s most iconic performances as a villain – honestly, what’s not to like?

Only a philistine would deny Die Hard‘s greatness, but there is one major point of controversy that rears its head about this time every year: can it be considered a Christmas film? Lots of people would cite it as their favourite Christmas movie, but others would argue that it has no place in the lineup of festive films.

So let’s have a look at the arguments for and against Die Hard being a Christmas film. Yippie ki-yay, Father Christmas.


The argument for Die Hard being a Christmas film


Photo: EW / 20th Century Fox

Die Hard is not only a Christmas movie, it’s the Christmas movie. First of all, the movie is set on Christmas Eve – pretty conclusive proof, really. The terrorists aren’t just threatening the people in the building, they’re threatening the sanctity of Christmas. It doesn’t get more seasonal than that, folks.

Secondly, Die Hard spawned its own Christmas sweater, and if there’s anything more Christmassy than the commodification of pop culture into products, I don’t want to know about it. Third, Die Hard isn’t really about Bruce Willis shooting terrorists, it’s about a man trying to reunite his family in time for Christmas. He has to shoot a few terrorists along the way, sure, but who doesn’t at this time of year?

Finally, a Christmas movie doesn’t have to be defined by its contents. The Great Escape is a Christmas classic, but it’s about a group of POWs trying to escape a German prison camp – not a jingle bell in sight. Christmas movies should bring people together in the spirit of good company and good cheer, and if Die Hard can do that, then it needs no further justification.


The argument against Die Hard being a Christmas film


Photo: 20th Century Fox

You cannot in good conscience call Die Hard a Christmas movie. You can call it a movie set at Christmas time, but aside from the time of year and a stupid jumper, there’s nothing else about Die Hard that makes it a Christmas movie. A Christmas movie should be about Christmas – that is what makes it a Christmas movie.

The Santa Clause is a Christmas movie because it is about a man becoming Father Christmas. Elf is a Christmas movie because it is about a man who grows up thinking he is one of Santa’s elves. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a Christmas movie because it’s the most famous Christmas story of all time, as told by The Muppets.

Die Hard is about a man trying to save a building full of business people from a group of terrorists. The fact that it’s set on Christmas Eve is irrelevant; it’s a convenient reason for John McClane to be in the neighbourhood, but it could just as easily have been his kid’s birthday.

This film is not about Christmas, it’s about kicking ass. No one’s saying that it doesn’t kick ass – it kicks ass at kicking ass – but the lack of Christmas spirit and magic means that it cannot truly be a Christmas film.


Only you can settle this debate, so which side are you on? Let us know in the comments.

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