The perennial half-joking debate about whether “Die Hard” (1988) is a Christmas movie will be with us for a long time, I guess. Yes, it is a Christmas movie — not only does it take place on Christmas Eve, the holiday helps set up the plot. (Our protagonists are at the besieged Nakatomi Tower for a Christmas party.) It just happens to be an ironic Christmas movie, that’s all.
And if we’re on the subject of ironic Christmas movies, I have to recommend “A Midnight Clear” (1992). It’s one of those films that doesn’t deserve its obscurity. It’s absolutely exceptional and poetic, which makes it maddening to me that a lot of people haven’t even heard of it.
I won’t describe it at length, because it’s one of those movies where “the less you know, the more you’ll enjoy it.” (Even its central plot development is meant to be unexpected.) I’ve never seen the trailer for this, but I can only imagine that it fails to avoid at least some spoilers.
Suffice to say that “A Midnight Clear” is a truly great film — one I would rate a perfect 10. It’s perfect. It just might make you look at war differently.
It’s a collection of contradictions, too. It’s a war movie with an (arguably) pacifist message, and a “Christmas movie” that is absolutely mournful. (I am not actually suggesting that anyone watch it to feel festive.) It’s also a World War II movie made in the 90’s, but it feels as though it’s channeling the sadness and existential loss of the post-Vietnam 1970’s.
Again, if you choose to watch it, learn as little as possible about it beforehand. And be aware that it’s probably sadder than you think. Let me know what you think about it, too. I’m curious about how other people feel about it.