Is 'Die Hard' a Christmas movie? British viewers remain divided

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
LONDON
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Is 'Die Hard' a Christmas movie? British viewers remain divided

"Die Hard" may lack the seasonal nostalgia and emotional warmth of "The Snowman," "Elf" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

It also has none of the jollity and sentimentality of decades-old favourites with no obvious Christmas connection, like "The Sound of Music," "Mary Poppins" or "The Wizard of Oz."

Yet the hugely popular action film, released in 1988, was set at Christmas and over the last decade it has inspired an annual viewing ritual for many British families.

London listings magazine Time Out ranks "Die Hard" third in this year's all-time favourite Christmas movies.

Director John McTiernan's action film features Willis as super-tough New York police officer John McClane trying to rescue his wife and others from German terrorists who take them hostage at a Christmas party in Los Angeles.

It sits behind only "It's a Wonderful Life," from 1946, and the 2003 hit "Elf," in the Time Out chart, while the magazine lists the 1990 sequel "Die Hard 2" at number 28.

"Die Hard" also overwhelmingly topped a recent BBC online vote to decide which was "the most Christmassy" of five contentious films.

The four less Christmassy rivals were Monty Python's "Life of Brian," "Lethal Weapon," "Batman Returns" and "Rocky IV."

But London Live! television critic Toby Earle stirred a Twitter debate on whether "Die Hard" should be considered a festive staple at all.

"Die Hard is not a Christmas film, it just happens to be set at Christmas, like Lethal Weapon," Earle wrote.

Television historian Greg Jenner disagreed, seeing the McClane character as "a classic Christmas underdog triumphing over selfish venality."

"Die Hard is about Christmas - it's a family redemption story about about personal suffering in the service of fellow man, in defiance of systemic avarice," Jenner wrote.

"It's pure Dickens," he said. "But with machine guns."

Comedian and writer Bethany Black said she also considered "Star Wars" and "The Wizard of Oz" festive films because they were "staples of my Christmas as a kid."

The dispute appears to have been settled, at least for this year, by a YouGov poll of 2,040 British adults.

"There has long been a strand of opinion that holds that 'Die Hard' is a Christmas movie," wrote YouGov data journalist Matt Smith.

"Because the film is set at Christmas time - and, arguably, contains Christmassy themes in among all the shooting - some people hold that this makes 'Die Hard' a festive flick," Smith wrote.

The YouGov survey, however, found 52 per cent of people do not consider "Die Hard" a Christmas film, while 30 per cent said they do and the remainder said they don't know.

"Only 25-34 year olds were more likely to say 'Die Hard' is a Christmas movie than not," Smith said.

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