Grinnell-in-the-Twin Cities: Die Hard and the American Mythos

Back by popular demand! In 2018, the Grinnell-in-the-Twin Cities alumni community joined Peter F. Parshall ’58, Professor Emeritus of Film and Literature at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the author of Altman and After: Multiple Narratives in Film, for an insightful exploration of the movie Bonnie & Clyde and its film legacy.

Join us on August 22 for Pete's take on another classic, Die Hard. Here's what Pete has to say about what's in store:

“No one envies the police these days, dealing not just with crime but with complex social problems: homelessness, drugs, spousal abuse, mental illness, etc. Compared to them, John McClane, the New York City cop in Die Hard back in 1988 had a fairly straight-forward problem. He needed to reconcile with his wife, Holly, who had moved to L.A. six months previously to accept an executive position in the Nakatomi Corporation.

But no sooner did he fly out to join her at the Nakatomi Christmas party than a second problem popped up in the form of a gang of foreign thieves who crashed the celebration, took the party-goers hostage, and set about cracking the Nakatomi vault. John escaped into the upper floors, barefoot. Up against a sophisticated group packing automatic weapons, explosives, and even an anti-tank gun, he had only a service revolver, a screwdriver, a cigarette lighter, and a roll of package tape in his arsenal, but single-handedly dispatched all of them and sent their leader, Hans Gruber, out a 30th story window.

The film’s popularity—it was 7th in box office receipts for the year and led to a series of sequels—suggests that it is “singing our song,” promoting values we are comfortable with. So what are those values? Are we still OK with them today? Why does it seem so important the film is set at Christmas? (And what does any of this have to do with The Pirates of Penzance?)

Furthermore—here’s a really outlandish thought—is it possible that some of John’s appeal stems from his mirroring (ever so slightly) mythic heroes like Theseus and Beowulf? I think we’re going to have to look at a lot of clips from the film to convince anyone of an idea that wild. Come and see what you think. ”

Grinnell-in-the-Twin Cities: Die Hard and the American Mythos
7 p.m. | Tuesday, Aug. 22

Yorker Party Room
6400 York Ave. S.
Edina, MN 55435

Register online or by phone at 866-850-1846 by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20. There is no cost to register.

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Tuesday August 22
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
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