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Die Hard Director Confirms It Was Not Intended To Be A Christmas Film

Die Hard Director Confirms It Was Not Intended To Be A Christmas Film

Every year, the argument rages over whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie (it is).

But this year, the film's director, John McTiernan, has jumped into the debate to offer his perspective on things.

Speaking during an interview at the American Film Institute, the 69-year-old said he never planned on making a festive movie, but also didn't want to make a standard terrorist movie where the 'low-status, angry men' on either side come out on top.

He revealed that he was inspired by Frank Capra's Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life, where the idyllic small town of Bedford Falls turns into the run-down, immoral Pottersville.

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"We hadn't intended it to be a Christmas movie, but the joy that came from it is what turned it into a Christmas movie," says McTiernan in the 12-minute video.

He explains: "Joel (Silver) sent me the script about three or four times, and it was about these horrible leftist terrorists who come into the Valhalla of capitalism, Los Angeles, and they bring their guns and their evil ways and they shoot up people just celebrating Christmas.

McTiernan said the film was about a working class hero taking on authoritarians on both sides. Credit: 20th Century Fox
McTiernan said the film was about a working class hero taking on authoritarians on both sides. Credit: 20th Century Fox

"And it was really about the stern face of authority stepping in to put things right again. It was the 'do you feel lucky, punk?' Do you remember that shot? It wasn't in Die Hard but you remember that shot.

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"And that was the essence of authoritarianism. And I kept saying to Joel, 'I don't want to make that movie.'

"The thing about Christmas movies, the one I'd wanna talk about is the one from the previous generation, It's a Wonderful Life, and specifically the Pottersville sequence, which is what happens when the evil banker gets to do what he wants in the community without George getting in the way to stop it."

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He adds: "It's the clearest demonstrations, criticism of runaway cowboy capitalism ever done in an American movie.

"So I went to Joel, and I said, 'OK, if you want me to make this terrorist movie, I want to make it where the hero, in the first scene where the limo driver apologises that he's never driven a limo before, the hero says, 'It's alright, I've never ridden in a limo before.''

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"It's a working class hero."

It has since become a Christmas classic. Credit: 20th Century Fox
It has since become a Christmas classic. Credit: 20th Century Fox
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McTiernan said this was a vital aspect of the movie if it was to be done in the way he intended it - showing a mirror up to society to satirise those in charge.

He goes on: "This was a movie where the hero was a real human being, and the people of authority, all of the 'important' folks, were all portrayed as kind of foolish.

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"So my hope at Christmas is that you all remember that authoritarians are low-status angry men who have gone to rich people and said, 'If you give us power, we'll make sure nobody takes your stuff.'

"And that's the essence of authoritarianism, that's always been the essence.

"And their obsessions with guns and boots and uniforms and squad cars, and all that stuff. And all those things you amass with power meant to scare us, meant to shut us up so we don't kick them to the side of the road and decent people of the world get on with building a future."

Feeling festive yet?

Featured Image Credit: American Film Institute

Topics: Christmas, Entertainment, Die Hard, UK Entertainment, US Entertainment

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Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]