It has been a popular topic for debate: is “Die Hard” a Christmas Movie? Well let’s see… John McClain has to save his wife, Holly (a festive name), and her office Christmas party from Hans Gruber (a German- from a land where many of our Christmas traditions originated) who is definitely on Santa’s naughty list, on Christmas Eve; all while sound-tracked by classic Christmas music. It seems pretty clear that it is indeed a beloved holiday classic.
As a state run museum I’m not quite sure if I have the power to officially declare that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recognizes “Die Hard” as a Christmas movie, but I’m also not sure that I don’t have that power.
Whether or not “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie is in someway a moot point as it is a movie in which someone uses a chainsaw, and isn’t that what really matters?
Soon after Hans Gruber and his international band of bad men enter Nakatomi Plaza, the brothers, Tony and Karl Vreski, go to work to disable the tower’s telephone communication system. Tony is methodically cutting the phone lines by hand but his brother Karl, showing the restraint that he would later become known for, decides to just cut everything with a chainsaw.
It is a quick scene but careful analysis shows that Karl has brought with him an Echo QuikVent Chainsaw (most likely a model QV-8000). This saw is not the type that would be found in the woods but would be instead on a fire truck. According the the QV-8000 instruction manual, “The Echo QuikVent System is a chain saw specially designed for use by trained fire fighters to ventilate, trench and breach burning structures.”
Founded in Japan in 1947, the Kyoritsu Noki Company was a manufacturer of forestry and agricultural equipment. The first chainsaw featuring the “Echo” name, the CS-80, was released in 1963. In 1971 the company changed their name to “Kioritiz” and in 1972 the “Kioritz Corporation of America” was founded, changing it’s name to “ECHO Incorporated” in 1978.
The Echo QuikVent chainsaw has a distinctive angled bar and continues to be marked to firefighters today, 30 years after “Die Hard” was released.
Why the German Karl Verski chose a Japanese chainsaw instead of a Stihl chainsaw, manufactured in his home country, is unknown. Perhaps the Echo saw was property of the Nakatomi Corporation. The Lumber Museum does not have an Echo chainsaw in our collection, but we do have a Stihl.
The Lumber Museum also has a tool in the collection that, like the Echo QuikVent Chainsaw, was specifically designed for use by firefighters.
The Rich Rake was designed by Charles H. Rich, of Woolrich, PA in 1921 as an improved design on the fire rake. A fire rake is a fire fighting tool used to create a fire break, a gap in vegetation intended to deprive fuel to a forest fire.
Check out previous blog entries for more information on the museum’s Stihl chainsaw and the Rich Rake.
In Conclusion “Die Hard” is a Christmas Movie. May Santa bring you $640 million in bearer bonds and a good pair of shoes. Yippie Ki-Yay!