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18th Dec 2020

Die Hard was never meant to be a Christmas movie, says director John McTiernan

Wil Jones

The eternal question of “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” has been answered. Well, sort of.

Die Hard is now a festive staple, and for many people, it is not Christmas until Hans Gruber dies. But director John McTiernan has revealed that it was never intended to be a Christmas movie.

The question over whether or not Die Hard counts as a Christmas film or not has become a recurring (and somewhat tedious) argument that comes back around every festive season.

But now, we might have the definitive answer, from the film’s director himself.

The American Film Institute has released an interview with John McTiernan about the making of Die Hard, where they put the burning question to him.

“We hadn’t intended it to be a Christmas movie,” says McTiernan. “But the joy that came from it is what turned it into a Christmas movie.”

In the interview, McTiernan also draws parallels between the film and current American politics.

“There are genuinely evil people out there,” McTiernan explained.

“My hope at Christmas this year is that you will all remember that authoritarians are low status, angry men who have gone to rich people and said, ‘If you give us power, we will make sure nobody takes your stuff.’ And their obsessions with guns, and boots and uniforms and squad cars and all that stuff. And all those things you amass with power meant to scare us, meant to shut us up so we don’t kick them to the side of the road and decent people of the world get on with building a future.”

Die Hard was actually released in July 1988. The middle of summer might seem a strange time to release a film set on Christmas Eve, but that didn’t stop it from becoming one of the highest-grossing films of that year.

In 2017, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.