It’s nearly Christmas! To celebrate, the writers of One Room With A View are going to present their arguments as to why their choice is the Ultimate Christmas Movie. We hope you enjoy the features and please let us know what you think below. David’s up first with his choice: John McTiernan’s Die Hard.
For many the Christmas period is a time of family get-togethers, joyful tidings and gargantuan consumptions of food. However, the numerous days of festive promotion and preparation leading up to Christmas Day can drag and turn even the most joyous of souls into the grumpiest of Grinches, especially when you work in retail. In the words of Roy Batty, “I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe…”
What’s all this got to do with Die Hard? Well, it’s the ultimate Christmas movie as it is captures what this season is truly about only through avoiding any direct interaction with it. John McClane is simply a man who wants a good Christmas with his estranged wife and children in L.A. No fuss. No frenzy. Just Christmas. His exasperation at everything festive and foreign to him matches that of every man & woman looking to enjoy the period without drowning in candy canes and tinsel. John McClane is just a normal human being like you and I.
The plot centres upon a witty, put-upon yet charming cop who flies from New York City to LA to see his wife and kids. Transported by limo driver Argyle (the nostalgic joy from his scenes alone should warm the cockles of your heart) to her workplace at the Nakatomi Plaza, he aims to surprise her for the festive season. As the company’s Christmas party enters full swing who should walk in but Hans Gruber and 30 armed terrorists. Damn. Prior to their arrival, McClane slips away and it is up to him to save the hostages and stop the terrorists. Simple.
Throughout John McClane is trying to achieve his final goal of a Christmas with his family yet things continue to get in his way; glass-shredded feet, fools inside and outside, and increasingly beefy terrorists whom all try and fail to stop our hero. The terrorists – no matter how impressive Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber is – will not win. The great reward is that he manages to pull it off and comes out the other side in (roughly) one piece. For many, this idea of survival is the greatest achievement of the Christmas period and John McClane is an inspiration for all. Survival can be achieved whether through the sacrifice of blood or all your best one-liners; you can achieve what you want/need this Christmas.
At its very core, Die Hard is a beautifully simple film, a quality which allowed it to become one of the greatest action movies of all time; sharp one-liners, blazing performances by Rickman and Willis and some of the best 80s haircuts you’ve ever seen. In all honesty, Die Hard could and should be watched at any occasion. Easter, New Years, Thanksgiving – Die Hard is your film. It’s a thriller of the highest accord and film-makers have attempted to imitate its gorgeous simplicity and failed. Yet beyond its action qualities, it manages to achieve themes of redemption, love, family, going above and beyond – all of which mirror the true spirit of Christmas. With Die Hard, you get the joy of Christmas without the suffocating sentimentality
Beyond John McClane’s heroic feats through his agonisingly human capabilities, the other great Christmas story is Twinkie eating desk jockey cop Sgt. Al Powell. Self inflicted with the cloak of regret and depression following his accidental shooting of a child, our every-80s-black-cop-cliche B-hero has his own arc we root for. His simple story of redemption will not be cited in academia for its cinematic strength but the simple story of an officer seeking redemption and supporting our lead’s mission to achieve the impossible warms the soul and and bestows the smidgen of sentimentality that we all secretly desire. Nevertheless Powell does not achieve his goal because it’s Christmas. Powell manages to overcome his wrongs through doing the right thing – shooting a maniacal terrorist through the head. Hell yeah.
Die Hard is the Ultimate Christmas Movie as it entertains and thrills whilst reminding us all about the good of this season. It never overwhelms or forces you to swallow any of Christmas’ trimmings, it allows you to just relax and let Christmas take a back seat underlining its true worthiness and fun side in amongst the consumerism and politics of it all. Thus Die Hard is unrivalled as one of my favourite films of all time and its new title as the Ultimate Christmas Movie.