By Tony Farkas
A phrase has crept into the American patois that fully encapsulates the desire to fight to the bitter end over principle.
If someone asks you “Is that the hill you want to die on,” it’s meant to check your resolve and your belief in your convictions.
It probably came from some war film, like “Heartbreak Ridge,” “Hamburger Hill,” “The Boys in Company C” or some such, but it’s a turn of a phrase that really packs a punch.
With that in mind, I’m going to wade into a fight that I have heretofore stayed mostly silent on, but one that needs the clarity of common sense, nonetheless. So here goes.
“Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.
Before there’s any pitchfork sharpening or torch preparation, read me out on this.
The traditional Christmas movie has events that occur during the Christmas season, seemingly brought on by the festivities, and the strength of belief helps people get through whatever the plot might be.
Even some of the best “traditional” Christmas movies have plots that are pretty dark, so a yuletide attack on Nakatomi Plaza shouldn’t be any less confusing. Take “It’s a Wonderful Life,” for instance. A man, overwrought by the cavalcade of catastrophe that has befallen his life, wishes he was never born. An angel, of all beings, grants that wish, and George Bailey gets to see what his absence has wrought.
Another favorite, with many many many iterations, is “A Christmas Carol,” the Dickensian melodrama that has a lifelong jerk undertake a redemption journey. This one is full of ghosts, and poverty, and class warfare, oppression, illness and death.
Here are a few others: “White Christmas” deals with saving a beloved man’s livelihood from economic disaster; “Bells of St. Mary’s” deals with the struggle to save a church and Catholic school; “The Bishop’s Wife” deals with obsession and marital strife; and “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is pretty rough even in its title. “Elf” has child abandonment, “Miracle on 34th Street” has a child with problems dealing with a single parent, and “Home Alone” is like “Die Hard” for children.
There’s even quite a bit of Christmas swag that is out now for “Die Hard,” including an Advent calendar that has Hans Gruber taking his fateful fall.
All of these movies have roughly the same structure, all of them end well, and Christmas is the seasonal feel-good champion. That structure includes the holiday being the reason for events, not events being cobbled onto the season, like “Cobra.”
Another movie that needs the consideration of common sense, or at least some discussion, is “Lethal Weapon.” I agree the connection is a little more tenuous here than with “Die Hard,” but it still has its roots in the holiday, has holiday-connected events that go sour, and end with redemption, reconciliation and warm fuzzies.
In structure, emotion and end game, I find that “Die Hard” indeed is a Christmas movie. May it forever