First Draft: Five Must-Read Classic Holiday Movie Screenplays

Die Hard (1988)

New York City policeman John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and two daughters on Christmas Eve. He joins her at a holiday party in the headquarters of the Japanese-owned business where works. But the festivities are interrupted by a group of terrorists who take over the exclusive high-rise, and everyone in it. Very soon McClane realizes that there’s no one to save the hostages—but him.

Essential Holiday Movie Elements

Once one of the most hilariously debated subjects (Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?), this action film seems to have been accepted in the classic holiday canon. Its atmosphere makes the strongest case for Die Hard’s holiday inclusion, but viewers may be surprised by its other classic holiday tropes. Early on in the film, we see that family is an important aspect of the story and characters. McClane is trying to reunite his family and spends the whole movie trying to survive to do so. We even see his children play an integral role in the plot later on in the movie. You could also certainly argue that both hope and redemption are ever-present as well. McClane, his wife, and his family hope to survive to be reunited, and McClane strives to be redeemed in the eyes of his wife Holly, after some early tension.

Interesting Screenplay Trivia

The screenplay for Die Hard is actually an adaptation of a novel—Nothing Lasts Forever. In the original script, as in the original novel, the action took place over three days, but director John McTiernan was inspired to have it take place over a single night by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Click here to read the screenplay for Die Hard.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Luca

    December 15, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Love this article, Thank You very much and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! Love reading MovieMaker. Only filmmaking magazine I read enthusiastically aside from American Cinematographer and Make-up Artist Magazine.

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