Now I know this is quite controversial, but I am going to say it anyway: Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie EVER!!
Of course, this does not mean that I am not partial (very partial, in fact) to the more traditional fare, such as Holiday Inn, It’s A Wonderful Life or Elf, but there is something magical about watching the more alternative movies during the festive period.
I think much of this stems from way back when Christmas movie watching was dictated to us by the TV schedulers, and for a few hours every year we had to get out the highlighter and mark up the Radio Times to create a personalised viewing timetable. For as long as I can remember, Christmas has involved an evening or two with John McClane and a few more reminding ourselves of the dangers of feeding Mogwais after midnight.
And so Xmas 2014 for us was all about suspense, excitement and adventure, as we played tribute to the 1988 classic. A table styled after the Nakatomi board room table was adorned with a gingerbread Nakatomi tower, and additional nods to the movie included Al Powell’s Twinkie cakes, Ellis White Knight cola cube marshmallows and Last Exit To Nowhere Ho Ho Ho bands.
For those of you needing convincing, here are 5 reasons why Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie:
1. ‘Twas the night before Xmas…
The entire movie is based over the evening of Christmas Eve, in the fictional Nakatomi Building (Fox Plaza) in Los Angeles.
The unlikely hero of the franchise, NYC cop, John McClane, has arrived on the West Coast to spend Christmas with his estranged wife, Holly Gennero, who is pursuing a high powered career at a Japanese corporate.
He comes bearing gifts (or gift, in the guise of a big brown bear with a large red bow), and after landing at LAX airport, makes his way to Holly’s office Christmas party escorted by Argyle, the novice limo driver. And of course, John finds himself in the wrong place and the wrong time, as Hans Gruber and the 12 terrorists of Christmas, hijack the office shenanigans with deadly explosive effect.
How much more Christmasy can you get?!
2. Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho
And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without an appearance from the big man himself. Instead of a jolly fat man, however, McTiernan gives Santa a sinister twist as we witness McClane using Tony, a dead skinny blond East German terrorist wearing a tracksuit and Santa hat, as the seasonal conduit for informing Hans of his latest acquisition.
3. How ’bout some Christmas music?
Michael Kamen’s score is a wonderfully eclectic mix of music ranging from classical Bach to Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis. As the movie’s tension grows, the music looks to unsettle the audience by interpolating traditional Christmas favourites, such as Walking in a Christmas Wonderland and Let it Snow, with accents of Singing in the Rain (used also to such a chilling effect in A Clockwork Orange) and urgent sleigh bells which together herald the most violent of the film’s action sequences. Kaman also does a fantastic job mixing one of the greatest compositions of all time, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the Choral Symphony, with the vault opening scene serving as the climax to what is just a fabulous soundtrack.
4. I give you the F.B.I
Christmas is, of course, is a story founded on the worlds most well known miracle, and Die Hard is certainly not short of a miracle or two of its own. In fact, there are countless times where our John McClane overcomes the odds continually stacked against him, including times where he overcomes the constraints of physics by hanging from gun holsters and hosepipes to escape terrorists and high explosives alike.
5. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
Although there is no chance of snow in the sunshine of Los Angeles, the end of the movie plays tribute to the snowy scenes of Christmas movies of the past as $600m of negotiable bearer bonds fall to the ground like snowflakes. The plaza finds itself with a dusting of snow-like ash following the multitude of explosions that left the Nakatomi guiding smouldering in the dawn of Christmas Day.
Even if you do not share my enthusiasm for filing this classic with the rest of your festive favorite DVDs, I am sure no-one is going to argue that, if nothing, else Die Hard is the undisputed king of action movies.
Yippee-ki-yay, Merry Christmas!!