Carter Newson / Edge columnist
A common Christmas tradition is to gather around the family television to watch holiday specials and movies. Yet one discussion seems to spring up every time the season rolls around: is Die Hard a Christmas movie?
To answer that question, there’s a need to understand the criteria that makes a Christmas movie what it is. What makes Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, an abandoned child defending his house from burglars in Home Alone , and an adopted man searching for his father in Elf all more Christmas-y than John Mcclane’s fighting off terrorists to save his wife?
Most of these holiday films have a Christmas tradition that serves as a jumping off point for the main conflict. In Home Alone, the McCallisters have their holiday vacation which leads to Kevin being left behind.
In Rudolph, Santa selects new reindeer to join his team, so the reindeer play games to prove who is worthy to join Santa’s team which, this leads to Rudolph’s nose being revealed and him getting ostracized.
In Elf, Santa accidently takes Buddy back to the North Pole while making his yearly trip, which leads to Buddy feeling out of place and wanting to meet his real father.
In Die Hard, John McClane returns to Chicago from his New York cop job to see his wife again only to have to fight off terrorists at her work. The terrorists attack during Christmas because of the office Christmas party keeping everyone in a controlled area.
Firstly, there is a point in the story where all hope seems lost.
Rudolph is trapped when the blizzard hits and Santa worries he won’t be able to deliver the gifts.
In Elf this is after Buddy’s father yells at him to get out his life, Buddy gets lost and meets up with Santa who won’t be able to give out presents because there’s not enough Christmas spirit to power the sleigh.
In Home Alone it’s when Kevin knows the burglars are going to rob his house and doesn’t know how to stop them.
All hope seems lost when Hans Gruber has Holly in his grasp and John at gunpoint, however John quick thinking is what gets them out of the situation.
Next, One or more characters is redeemed through the eyes of the audience and another character.
Throughout Elf, Buddy’s father Walter is reluctant to include Buddy in his life. Another flaw with him is that he spends too much time at work away from is family which Buddy’s brother Michael is very vocal about. Both problems are resolved at the same time when Walter walks out on his boss and helps Buddy return the spirit of Christmas
When Kevin wakes up and realizes his family have” disappeared” he’s ecstatic. He jumps on his parents’ bed, tries to shave and watches a movie he isn’t supposed to. Later he realizes he doesn’t want to be alone for Christmas and just wants his family back.
You could say Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon, and Cornelius are redeemed because they proved their worth to everyone who once rejected them. Or, you could say everyone who once rejected them is redeemed because they now the accept them for who they are. There is of course also the Abominable Snowman who helps decorate the tree at the end, regardless, there is redemption.
John Mclane is redeemed in Holly’s eyes after seeing what he went through to protect her, and she corrects the news reporter that her last name is McClane.
Finally, love, family, and acceptance is involved within the story somehow.
Buddy falls in love with a woman named Jovie and tries to achieve the love he always desired from his father.
Kevin finds he loved and needed his family when he thought he hated them.
Rudolph has Clarice as a love interest and is no longer rejected by the other reindeer.
John Mclane is only at the Nakatomi tower because he’s been away from his family and wants to catch up with his wife at her work. He arrives only to be disappointed when his wife uses her maiden name in the company’s database.
You could also point out that Home Alone and Die Hard are about two guys who are alone in one building, taking down a group a criminals by setting up traps to protect that building and their family, but that could be nit picking.
You can also apply films such as A Christmas Carol, The Grinch, and Iron Man 3. More movies can be Christmas movies than you originally thought, including Die Hard