When you think about Christmas, the primary things that come to mind are gifts, Santa Claus, Jesus, and Die Hard. Even though the film was originally released in July, and only has a plot that unfolds during Christmas, Die Hard has gone onto become a certified Christmas classic? How? The film’s director John McTiernan gives his two cents.

The American Film Institute sat down with director John McTiernan on an episode of Behind the Scene to talk to fans about how his 1988 hit Die Hard became a Christmas movie.

Die Hard was a terrorist movie,” he begins explaining. “And it was about these horrible leftist terrorists who come in to the Valhalla of capitalism — Los Angeles — and they bring their guns and their evil ways and they shoot up on people just celebrating Christmas… And it was really about the stern face of authority stepping in to put things right again… It was the essence of authoritarianism.”


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Die hard Bruce Willis


McTiernan then explained how he and producer Joel Silver compared it to the Pottersville sequence from the 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life, which McTiernan said was “the clearest demonstration and criticism of runaway unregulated war capitalism.”

Comparing Die Hard and the current state of American politics, the director then added, “There are genuinely evil people out there.”

“My hope at Christmas this year is that you will all remember that authoritarians are low-status, angry men who have gone to rich people and said, ‘If you give us power, we will make sure nobody takes your stuff.’ And their obsessions with guns and boots and uniforms and squad cars and all that stuff,” he noted. “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.”


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