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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Die Hard (1988)

Yippee-ki-yay and Merry Christmas to you my friends! In my efforts to not watch any movies from my collection until I'm watching them for the project, I made sure to get my annual viewing of my favorite Christmas movie in.

There's a lot of debate in popular culture about this beloved, well-oiled machine of an action movie. Is it a Christmas movie? Yes. But more importantly, it's a love story. And that's why you watch it on Christmas.

A couple years ago, I finally read the novel on which Die Hard is based and now I spend a good portion of any viewing in disbelief that such a finely tuned movie could be born of such... base base material. Let me spare you 250 pages of mediocrity: women are bad and they're better off dead than sexually fulfilled. The end. (For the love of god don't read it.) Die Hard is so beautifully paced and shot and lit and I hope they teach it in film school. The screenplay is perfection, linking several characters who are out of place (John in LA, Powell on the street, Holly as boss, Hans as petty thief, and on and on) and watches them thrive. It's kind of amazing. And it came from a novel that is easily the worst thing I've ever read.

The action of it is brutal. I always cringe and "oof!" and suck air through my teeth during Die Hard but I spent most of this viewing wondering how John McClane feels the next day. That he powers through that night is a miracle, but can he even get out of bed the next day? Most of us couldn't lightly bounce up and down the stairs as much as he does let alone crawl through air ducts and the whole shoeless thing. He is a blunt instrument who is too angry at the world to let this pass. I never noticed before this viewing that the movie really makes a meal of John's choice to antagonize the terrorists. The camera lingers as he smirks his way into dolling up a corpse to let his enemies know he's coming. Ho-ho-ho.

And that's not to say that John is dumb. "Blunt instrument" is too often used to describe someone without wit but every character in this movie has it in spades. The maneuvering between Hans and John in the Bill Clay scene?? Come. On. The way that Karl pokes the air ducts. Even the asshole news guy is pretty clever. Though of course there's Ellis.

Sprechen Sie Talk? (Poor Ben. I have not stopped saying that at him.)

But the highlight of this film, for me, is the friendship between John and Al. It's perfect. It's pure. They imagine a future of their children playing together. They admit insecurities and fears to each other. They joke. They trust each other implicitly. They keep each other going. We should all be so lucky to have friends like John and Al have each other. I could go on. I will, given the chance.

I really struggled in inspiration for the first time in this project this week. Maybe I just love Die Hard too much. It's probably this nasty bit of depression I'm knee deep in. It's also just being an artist and I knew it was inevitable. I don't think a lot of people ever actually read this so I'm going to indulge myself a little and talk about the struggle a bit. I pride myself on being clever and thinking outside the box. I've come up with some ideas in the last weeks that I'm really proud of and I felt like I had to come up with something clever again. But you can't force those things, and I know it. But it still feels like I'm letting myself down a bit. I need to get comfortable with that too, as I work on my art and try to take ownership of describing myself as any kind of artist. We all do. I just want it to be easy. Ha. It never will be. That's part of what makes it worthwhile.

I went through a few ideas, all drawing, but in the end, it could only be Al.

Colored pencil on paper. (I call it, "Maybe the Real Bearer Bonds Were the Friendships We Made Along the Way".)


-People are so tough to draw. Any kind of realistic people are tougher. But I'm pretty happy with it. I'm grateful that I don't need to do detailed faces in costume renderings.

-I don't think I captured the absolute romance of this moment.

-As usual, I find myself thinking "oh I like [medium of the week] - why don't I use this more often?". Colored pencils are great but I need to use colored pencil paper. For the teeth!

-I'm really glad I invested in this little light box photo thing. Much easier to capture art with it.

-As okay as I am with this piece, I'm scared of sharing it. I wish it was better. Al deserves better.

Merry merry, my dears. I hope the holidays are being gentle and you're getting the love and warmth you need from them. See you next year. ;)

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I wish we had a better word than “bromance” to capture the love between these two men! Congrats on doing the thing when the doing just isn’t doing it for you!

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