Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall from Nakatomi Plaza”? If not, take a look at the photo below and bask in the glory of one of Alan Rickman’s (may God rest his soul) most iconic roles as the uber-villain of Die Hard.
You may be asking yourself, “What does this man falling to his death have to do with Christmas?” The answer is, “A lot.” For years people have debated whether or not Die Hard is the ultimate action connoisseur’s Christmas movie and this year’s argument has been the most heated to date, with people vociferously pointing out, “Even the screenwriter says it’s NOT a Christmas movie!” They might be right about the screenwriter saying that but they’re still wrong and the assertion from the screenwriter is a bad argument. Let me go ahead and reiterate the most important point: Die Hard is a Christmas movie.
It’s set around a Christmas party and the plot relies heavily on people NOT being at work for the holiday season in order for the movie to progress. Had the movie been set around Thanksgiving, would there have been a party at Nakatomi Tower? I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving potlucks I’ve attended in any corporation have taken place in the daytime and are during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. I’ll go one step further: when have you EVER heard the phrase “ho-ho-ho” in a movie that has nothing to do with Christmas? That phrase, made famous by Santa Claus, is synonymous with Christmas and I’ll debate anyone on that on any day of the week. Does hearing “ho-ho-ho” put you in the Christmas spirit? Of course it does. You immediately think of Santa Claus. I still get visions of sugar-plums dancing in my head when I hear Bruce Willis utter the words.
Now let’s think about Die Hard as a movie, overall. One Scrooge-like New York cop takes on a group of foreign terrorists in Los Angeles with virtually no chance that he’ll make it out alive. BUT…not only does he make it out alive, he kills all the terrorists, saves all the money from getting into their hands, contains an explosion to the building he is in and with only one civilian killed (and that’s because he’s a dick and he kind of brought it on himself anyway, through no fault of Willis’ character, John). If you don’t consider that a Christmas miracle, do you even holiday, bro?
But I digress. The most important thing to point out in this whole debate is that many people have made it a part of their yearly traditions during the holidays. In a world where traditions seem to no longer be the status quo, Die Hard is the tradition that refuses to die…hard. Personally, I watched it with my dad. We only did it a few Christmases, but it impacted me in a way that very few traditions have since. I can share this movie with my son and continue the tradition because, hey, who doesn’t like a good action movie? It’s an easy movie to bond over because it’s got a little bit of something for everyone. And no matter the differences you have over the year, EVERYONE can agree that seeing Hans Gruber fall from the top of the Tower is definitely one of the most satisfying scenes in any movie.
This article isn’t meant to bash other people who think the movie isn’t worthy of being called a Christmas movie but more to bring attention to the fact that it’s become a Christmas tradition to many. Die Hard to some is what like putting an Elf on a Shelf, or a certain ornament that you put out every year because of its significance to your family, is to others. A tradition can be whatever you want it to be; I just chose to keep mine adrenaline-fueled, action-filled and explosive.