British Board of Film Classification

Quick search of releases

Advanced search

Die Hard

Yippee-ki-yay! It's a Die Hard Christmas

Tags: archive, action, christmas

The Christmas film of choice for action fans, Die Hard was first submitted to the BBFC in July 1988. Bruce Willis stars as grizzled cop John McClane who has to take out the trash on Christmas Eve, thanks to the evil plans of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his henchman who set upon the the Nakatomi Plaza building.

A punch-packed classic 80s actioner, Die Hard contained a number of potential classification issues, as noted by the examiners in their reports. Sex, nudity, drug use and violence all make an appearance at various levels. The sex and nudity featured in the film is limited, and containable at the 15 level in 1988, and the sight of drug use is not dwelt upon, with the character partaking in the activity swiftly being shown to be a 'bad guy'.

The depiction of violence was the main focus for the BBFC, and these reports explain clearly how the careful choreography of the action worked at the 18 category. "Much is left to the imagination" and Bruce Willis "diffuses much of the violence with his persona". Whilst there are some close-up shots of injury details the examiners recognise that these do not "revel in sadism for the sake of it". A fight between McClane and "a blond terrorist....skilfully suggests considerable toughness without appearances of blood or slow motion or close-up". Often the climactic moments are "perpetrated by an inanimate object i.e. falling through glass at the end of a fight". Overall, the depiction of violence avoids any harmful "selling of brutality", and the team were confident that Die Hard could sit comfortably at the 18 category without any cuts.

Die Hard was also rated 18 for its video release and remained at that category until 2008, when it was reclassified as part of a formal submission. Watching the film 20 years after the original theatrical submission the new examining team agreed with the observations of the 1988 reports, chiefly that much of the violence is implied and presented without strong, gory detail. The BBFC Guidelines in place in 2008 could now accommodate the action at 15, as the Guidelines at that category stated "'violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury".

Die Hard remains a 15, and was also classified 15 for theatrical release in 2013.

Related documents and downloads