Letter to John McTiernan (Sara Freeman)

Dear Mr. McTiernan,

My name is Sara Freeman and I’ve been a fan of your movies since I was a little girl, not much older than Truman. I, like so many others, am deeply saddened by your current locale and I sincerely hope this letter brightens your day a bit.

Right now I’m watching a Dodgers-Brewers baseball game. It’s the bottom of the fourth and the Dodgers are up to bat. The score is 2-1, Brewers. I’m a Brewers fan, but the Dodgers’ new pitcher, Matt Guerrier, is looking good. Do you like baseball? I feel like you do. One of my favorite scenes in Basic is the conversation between Travolta and Van Holt about the ol’ ballgame.

I’m kind of like Travolta’s character Hardy because I could talk about baseball all day. I used to watch a lot of baseball with my dad. He taught me to love and respect the game. I also used to watch a lot of your movies with him. He went to prison when I was seven and didn’t come home until I was almost thirteen. We were pals before he went away, but it was a little awkward when he came back because he’d been gone for so long.

One night shortly after his return, we decided to rent The 13th Warrior out of the blue. I know it’s not yours completely, but something in my twelve-year old gut told me it was still really special. It quickly became one of our favorite movies to watch together and we started watching your other flicks – Die Hard, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Hunt for Red October – and it is/was always a treasured experience to watch your movies with my Pa. Basic was one of the last movies we watched together before I moved across the country to attend college in Chicago. That was nearly nine years ago and I don’t get to see my dad very often these days (I currently live in the Czech Republic), but watching your movies always reminds and makes me feel closer to him, like he’s just in the kitchen making fruit salad or something.

Speaking of food, I’m gearing up to make pasta for dinner. I hope that prison food has improved somewhat since my dad’s day. He worked out a lot when he was in there, but he still put on a good fifty pounds because of all the carbohydrates. I love carbs, though, don’t you? I’m a vegan, but I’ll bet nothing goes better with a slab of beefalo than a loaded baked potato.

I remember a cake I used to make for my friends when we’d all watch movies together. When I moved to Chicago from Oregon, I quickly got a job at an “Indie” movie theater and within a couple of years, almost everyone who worked there was a McTiernan fan. At the end of our shift, we’d often watch movies at the theater or journey to someone’s house and have a grand time staying up all night. I’d make my banana vanilla cake and we’d drink so much coffee that our hands were literally shaking by morning. We would watch your movies (Die Hard with a Vengeance was always a favorite) over and over again. This is where the blog Mission:McTiernan was first thought of (and actually started a few years later by my husband and his best friend, Dan Gorman), where a co-worker got “Get to the Chopper” tattooed across his stomach in large, bold letters (I kid you not) and where many of my lifelong friendships were formed. Though I was in film school, this is where my real cinematic education occurred. No one at my school knew a thing about your artistry then and I doubt they do now.

You’ve probably guessed it by now, but I passionately love your movies. I just wish I was eloquent enough to explain why. Your use of space (Oh how I swoon during the first big scene with McClane and Zeus at the police station in Die Hard with a Vengeance), the way you shoot conversations (like in that scene where the camera dances between all of the different characters, never resorting to shot reverse shot), the music and the colors are all beyond masterful. Though I’ve seen ’em all many times,  I know that I will continue to study, cherish and learn from them until the end of my days.

Your movies are both a joy to experience on an aesthetic level and the root of many joyous experiences. From exploring the locations of Die Hard with a Vengeance during a NYC blizzard to watching Die Hard every Christmas Eve to defending Rollerball to the death to the smiles I get every time I proudly wear my Die Hard with a Vengeance t-shirt, you and your movies have done nothing but provide me with an insurmountable amount of happy memories, fun and visual dazzlement in my life. I am eternally grateful to you and your excellent vision. Thank you for everything, Mr. McTiernan. You’ve influenced my life in more ways than I can ever say.

I hope that with your future freedom comes many, many more opportunities to create works of art. Whether that means raising beefalo, making movies or fixing cars, you will always have my support. No matter what. Please give my best to your family. I’m sending you and everyone else good vibes and well-wishes.

With Much Love and Sincerity,

Sara Freeman

P.S. I recently found out that the film archive in Bratislava, Slovakia has a lot of documents about Jan Kadar. I might make a pit stop over there this summer to check it out. I’ll be sure to write you if I find anything.

P.P.S. It was a nail-biter, but the Brewers won 6-4.




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