“Die Hard” is a Christmas film, says director John McTiernan

It raises its ugly head every year, but the debate about whether Die Hard is a Christmas film that just doesn't stop raging – and now director John McTiernan has commented on it.

In a video interview for the American Film Institute, the 69-year-old filmmaker explained how he wanted to capture the spirit of James Stewart's “working class hero” in a festive classic in his “terror film.” It's a beautiful life.

He praised people like producer Joel Silver and screenwriter Steven E. de Souza for their understanding of his project.

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“It was a lot of fun because we had all scratched at the side of the king's tomb and changed the contents,” McTiernan said.

“We didn't intend it to be a Christmas movie, but the joy that came out of it made it a Christmas movie.”

Die Hard is set on Christmas Eve at a festive party in Nakatomi Plaza, where NYPD cop John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, arrives to win back his estranged wife.

Terrorists led by Alan Rickman's legendary Hans Gruber take control of the building and soon McClane embarks on a one-man crusade to stop them.

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The film was a box office hit and was nominated for four Oscars, yet every time it appears on a list of the best Christmas movies, it sparks a heated debate.

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On one hand, the film is set at Christmas time and features a few Christmas songs and Santa hats, but on the other hand, it is exactly the kind of film that audiences can watch at any other time of the year.

Bruce Willis' stance on this debate is quite clear. In 2018, the star declared: “It's a fucking Bruce Willis movie.”

“Die Hard.” (Source: 20th Century Studios)

“Die Hard.” (Source: 20th Century Studios)

However, the public is divided. A 2017 YouGov poll found that 52% of British adults believe Die Hard not to be a Christmas film, while the figure for Americans in 2018 was as high as 62%.

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McTiernan added: Die Hard has real meaning this Christmas, given that there are “really bad people” in the world of politics.

He said: “My hope is that this Christmas you all remember that authoritarians are angry, low-status men who go to rich people and say, 'If you give us power, we will make sure nobody takes your property away from you.'”

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