Saturday, 23 January 2016

Die Hard - Farewell to Hans Gruber

Director: John McTiernan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman
Release: 20 July 1988
IMDB User Rating: 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes User Rating: 94%

Well, it seems like January was a month when we lost some great celebrities, particularly David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Okay, I was originally going to write this post as a tribute to Alan Rickman, who played one of the best in an action movie that literally defined a genre (and while the list of movies that I can attribute him isn't all that long - Quigley Down Under, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Galaxy Quest, and of course the Harry Potter movies - when I think of Alan Rickman I always come back to Die Hard). However, as the week wore on I found myself jumping onto Youtube and listening to some David Bowie tracks, and for some reason I just kept on listening to them as I suddenly realised that he was actually a pretty good artist.

Just to prove it, here's Ziggy Stardust:

Mind you, after Rickman's and Bowie's death people started commenting that they (celebrities that we grew up with) were dropping like flies, however I assure you that is not true:

Keith Richards
I hope I don't jinx him
Actually, Keith Richards holds this special place in my heart because I remember going to one of my friend's dress up parties at uni (whenever she threw a party it would always have a theme) and while I can't remember what I had original intended to go as, for some reason everybody started telling me that I looked like Keith Richards (it probably had something to do with the head band). Mind you, those parties were pretty cool, especially since I would always come dressed as one thing, and end up being something completely different (once I was Ronald Regan's War on Terror - go figure).

Anyway, I guess one of the reasons that celebrity deaths do impact us is because we grew up with them and in a way they were part of our life. Sometimes I don't appreciate an artist until after they are gone (though the Beatles had broken up long before I even knew of their existence). At least I got to go and see a Simon and Garfunkle concert.

Now I have a Machine Gun

Anyway, as I mentioned, this post was supposed to be about Alan Rickman and one of the great movies from my teenage years - Die Hard. In fact I decided to set some time aside to watch the movie one more time, despite literally knowing it off by heart (I really don't know how many times I've actually watched it). Anyway, before I continue here is the official trailer:

Actually, I don't even remember seeing the trailer back in the days, but then again why watch the trailer when you can watch the movie. Actually, apparently Bruce Willis' tanktop is even in the Smithsonian. All I can say is that they don't make movies like this anymore, and considering that it was Alan Rickman's first movie, and Bruce Willis was basically known as 'that guy from Moonlighting', it literally catapulted them into a new world (though I have noticed that none of the other actors from the movie amounted to much - except for maybe the cop who is famous for playing, well, cops).

I have to admit that the 80s was seriously a different world, and watching Die Hard again sure does bring back lots of memories. For instance Bruce Willis carries his gun onto the plane, lights a cigarette while wandering around the airport, and plays with a touch screen TV (which looks suspiciously like a CRT screen - can you even make them touch screens?), and we even have pregnant women drinking. Oh, and we can't forget the hairstyles.

Mind you, when Google Street view went live one of the first things that I looked for was 'that building in Die Hard'. So here it is:

I wonder whether they are going to make it a heritage listing

It's a Christmas Movie

Yep it sure is, but then again if you have seen Die Hard that would probably come as no surprise. In fact it is suggested that when Hans Gruber falls out of Nakatomi Plaza it has just turned over to Christmas Day.

There is a funny thing with Christmas and movies because every year there seems to be a raft of them appearing in the cinemas, and they usually involve Santa Claus and his elves (and some of these movies have even had names such as Santa Claus: the Movie, and The Santa Clause). Of course these movies all evolve around the idea of Christmas not happening (which basically means that the children don't get their presents, though there is a deeper tradition in that Christmas generally comes around the winter solstice, which is generally the longest, coldest, and darkest night of the year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere). Okay, you also have It's a Wonderful Life, but that has more to do with it being set on Christmas Day as opposed to being a Christmas movie.

Then you have Die Hard:

Okay, I don't actually watch much television anymore, and even then come Christmas Eve the last thing that I happen to be doing is sitting at home watching the idiot box. If I'm not going to some midnight mass, I out on the town with a couple of mates and don't get home until after midnight. However, I do wonder how many television channels actually play Die Hard on Christmas Eve? Not many I suspect, especially since most tend to play those rather annoying, and some what cliched Santa Claus movies.


Maybe the television channels aren't too keen on showing movies on Christmas eve that involves machine gun fights, buildings blowing up, and criminals falling from skyscrapers. I guess if I want to watch Die Hard on Christmas Eve I'm going to have to watch it on DVD (and then again I can safely assume that it won't be edited for television viewing).

One Cool Criminal

Which brings us back to the ridiculousness of the whole concept, but then again it is Hollywood, and seriously what would you expect to come from that segment of society. Sure, the police these days have armoured personal carriers and fully automatic weapons, but a part of me wondered if they did back in the eighties, or was it just Hollywood making the SWAT team look much more impressive than they really were (I remember an Australian TV series called Water Rats, which was about the Sydney Harbour Police, and the boat they had on the TV show was much better than any of the equipment the actual water rats had).

Mind you, these criminals are also quite well armed - something that I wouldn't expect coming from thieves. In fact I wonder if there is any criminal organisation who happens to be that heavily armed that would actually rob a bank, or a corporation (okay, the Red Army Faction in Germany did, but they were terrorists, these guys seem to just want the money). Once again, it is Hollywood, but I also seem to be pinging Hollywood a bit too much when in reality it is based on a book called Nothing Lasts Forever (which I've really got to get my hands on one of these days).

There is another problem with the film:

Actually people generally don't keep $800 million dollars stashed away in a safe either, normally they keep it in a bank. However Die Hard solves this issue by using Bearer Bonds. Basically they are a piece of paper that says that somebody owes the holder of that piece of paper a certain amount of money, and also is entitled to interest payments. As such by using bearer bonds it solves the problem of the $800 million dollars sitting in the safe. Mind you they don't exist anymore but still it is rather amusing, especially since when money rains down from the sky in a movie everybody tries to grab as much as possible, whereas if bearer bonds were to rain down from the sky everybody ignores them (despite the fact that bearers bonds are probably worth quite a lot more).

Well okay, not that one

As for Alan Rickman, it certainly brought him to the forefront of the movie industry. In fact not only was it his first foray into film, but he almost turned it down since he did not want to star in an action movie. However, one could say that it wasn't just the film creating Rickman, but Rickman creating the film. In fact he didn't just play the role, he took it and turned it into the sophisticated villain that we just love. Mind you, it wasn't that Rickman had never acted before - he had a long history on the stage, it was just that we never hear about those performances - we only hear about the ones on film. This is probably because they tend to remain around for much longer. Plays come and go, but movies last as long as we have a medium to play them.

Mind you, as I read through some of the obituaries I discovered that there were other films that I missed, such as Dogma, where he plays the Metronon, the voice of God, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where he plays none other than Marvin the Paranoid Android. Of course, we can't forget the Harry Potter Series where he takes the role of Severus Snape, and for most of the movies we sit there believing that he is one of the major villians.

Anyway, if you are interested in some more useless Die Hard facts, you can also check this out.


 Back to Bowie

So, I know David Bowie has nothing to do with Die Hard, however I opened with him so I think it is only fitting to close with him as well. So, why the sudden interest in Bowie? Well, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one day (recently) I came across this little photo:

Obviously it caught my attention, and suddenly the song started going around my head, so I decided to type it into Youtube where I discovered that it was none other than a David Bowie song. Mind you, Youtube also has the habit of selecting similar videos to follow on, and in the case of Modern Love it was a bunch of Bowie videos, which ended up playing in the background. I have to admit that pretty quickly I was hooked. However, before I finish off I must say that sometimes where a celebrity dies you find Christians writing blog posts about whether the celebrity was a Christian or not - which I personally find a waste of time and energy. Sure, we all want our heroes to go to heaven, but sometimes I feel that we are trying to piece together a life that in reality we know nothing about. This is even more so with celebrities because they literally have two lives - their public life and their private life. Actually, everybody lives two lives, and in many cases we don't see people's private lives - we only base our understanding on their public lives.

Anyway, I'll finish it off here, but before I do so here's Modern Love:

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Die Hard - Farewell to Hans Gruber by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images or videos that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If use wish to use the creative commons part for commercial purposes, please contact me directly.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, yes, touch screen CRTs are not only possible, they were relatively common in commercial settings before flat screens took over. A bit pricey, and obviously impractical for portable computers, but definitely in existence.

    One Rickman film that did not get a mention was the BBC production of Anthony Trollope's Chronicles of Barchester. Rickman plays the perfect version of the villain, the Reverend Obadiah Slope. You can find some clips online, but it is worth renting or streaming the entire thing.