This article was written exclusively for The Film Magazine by Louis B Scheuer.
Every December the debate fires up again: is Die Hard (1988) a Christmas film?
Whether you think so or not, the action classic starring Bruce Willis and the late, great Alan Rickman proves that one can set a movie at the most magical time of year without packing it full of seasonal tropes. After all, Christmas isn’t fun for everyone. It can be a dark, gritty, dangerous time, especially if you’re a downtrodden bureaucrat, an alcoholic cop, or a kid who has just been gifted an apparently harmless and adorable mogwai.
In this Movie List, we here at The Film Magazine have scoured the annals of film history to put together this selection of 10 Excellent Non-Christmas Films Set at Christmas. Ten films we’re sure will add a different flavour to your holiday watch lists.
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1. In Bruges (2008)
Martin McDonagh’s thrilling feature debut transports us to Bruges, the Belgian town that’s “like a fairy tale”, as Ralph Fiennes’ cockney villain constantly reminds us.
The plot, twisting like the canals of Bruges itself, features comedy, betrayal, love, blood, and guts, whilst Christmas lights just happen to gleam all around.
If you want to feel a little seasonal without being beaten over the head with Christmas spirit, this Irish dark comedy starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson may be exactly what you need.
2. Brazil (1985)
Terry Gilliam’s dystopian epic shows us what those shopping-mall Santas can be like off-duty. Much like the Christmas industry, every kind face has a nasty one beneath.
Very little is nice about Brazil, which tells the story of Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) seeking love and freedom in a Kafkaesque nightmare. Cinematically beautiful and ultimately terrifying, Gilliam’s vision of the future mirrors much of today’s world. We see that, behind the shiny consumerism, there are systems upon systems upon systems of red tape, corrupt officials, and crushed dreams.