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The Terminal is a comedy-drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It is about a man trapped in a terminal at JFK International Airportmarker when he is denied entry into the United Statesmarker and at the same time cannot return to his native country due to a revolution. The film is said to be inspired by the 18-year-stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in the Charles de Gaulle International Airportmarker, Terminal I, Paris, France from 1988 to 2006.

Plot

Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a man from the fictional country of Krakozhia, arrives at New York Citymarker's John F. Kennedy International Airportmarker, only to discover that during the flight his Eastern Bloc country's government has been overthrown by rebels, invalidating his passport and thus leaving him stranded and stateless. Due to his poor English, he at first cannot understand what is happening, but is explained the situation through both news broadcasts and by the immigration services. Over the next nine months, Viktor is forced to live in the terminal building, unable either to set foot into the United Statesmarker or to go home. He befriends the staff at the terminal, including flight attendant Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones), while being under the watchful eye of Immigration Officer Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), who wants the "Navorski problem" removed from the airport. Initially being deprived of food by Dixon as a method of trying to get Navorski arrested and made someone else's problem, Navorski takes on the task of retrieving vacant baggage trollies for the 25 cent reward. He uses this money to buy food until eventually Dixon prevents him from collecting. He then makes his first friend, a catering car driver named Rico who asks him to approach a female security officer named Dolores for him in exchange for food. After meeting Amelia and being asked out to dinner, Navorski tries to earn money in order to ask Amelia out instead. He finally gets a job as a construction worker earning $19 per hour.

One day, Viktor explains to Amelia that the purpose of his visit to New York City is to collect an autograph of the jazz tenor saxophonist Benny Golson. His late father was a jazz enthusiast. He had discovered the "Great Day in Harlem" photograph in a Hungarian newspaper in 1958, and vowed to get an autograph of all the 57 jazz musicians featured on the photograph. Over the next 40 years, he had managed to collect an autograph of all of them, except for one person: Benny Golson. Viktor wants to collect this last one to fulfill his father's dream.

A few months later, the news reports that the war in Krakozhia is over, but Dixon will still not allow Viktor to enter the United States. Amelia reveals that she had asked her 'friend', actually a married government official with whom she had long been having an intermittent affair, to assist Viktor in obtaining permission to travel within the US, but Viktor is disappointed to learn she has renewed her relationship with the man during this process.

To make matters worse, Dixon needs to sign the form granting Viktor the right to remain in the United States, but refuses, instead deciding to deport him out of spite. Thanks to the timely interference of the friends Viktor has made during his stay in the terminal, he is allowed to leave the airport. As Viktor prepares to take a taxi to the Ramada Inn, 161 Lexington Avenuemarker, in New York, where Benny Golson is performing, he observes Amelia exiting from a cab, where she gives him a wistful smile. He attends the show and collects the autograph, finally completing the collection. Afterwards, Viktor leaves and hails a taxi, telling the driver: 'I am going home.'

Cast



Production

The gigantic airport set built for the film.
Spielberg traveled around the world to find an actual airport that would let him film for the length of the production, but could not find one. The Terminal set was built in a massive hangar at the LA/Palmdale Regional Airportmarker. The hangar, part of the US Air Force Plant 42marker complex was used to build the Rockwell International B-1B bomber. The set was built to full earthquake construction codes and was based on the Düsseldorf International Airportmarker. The shape of both the actual terminal and the set viewed sideways is a cross section of an aircraft wing. The design of the set for The Terminal, as noted by Roger Ebert in his reviews and attested by Spielberg himself in a feature by Empire magazine, was greatly inspired by Jacques Tati's classic film Playtime.

Everything functioned in the set as in real life. There was real food, ice cream and coffee in the appropriate outlets. The escalators were purchased from a department store that had gone bankrupt. Each of the outlets featured in the concourse building was actually sponsored by the real company. Many stores are seen and Viktor seeks a job at Brookstone and the Discovery Channel store.

Most exterior shots and those featuring actual aircraft were shot at Montréal-Mirabel International Airportmarker: additional interior shots were also done there including the mezzanine overlooking the immigration desks and the baggage carousels directly behind them, the jetways showing Aéroports de Montréal signs, and many Air Transat planes in the background, when New York is not one of their regular destinations. Additional pre-production shooting was done at Los Angeles International Airportmarker and at Spielberg's offices at Amblin. Montreal is also mentioned on the loudspeaker at the beginning of the film, around the point where the customs officer tells Viktor to wait in a special line.

The 747 was provided by United Airlines. The Star Alliance was a major sponsor and provided uniforms, equipment, and actors in addition to those cast. In spite of the heavy presence of the Star Alliance airlines, you can see a Delta Air Lines pilot pass Viktor in a scene during the last 5 minutes of the movie.

This is one of the few Spielberg-directed features that did not feature special effects by Industrial Light and Magic.

Filming locations



Production companies



Critical reception

The Terminal received mixed reactions from critics. The film received a score of 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 55 out of a possible 100 on Metacritic. Michael Wilmington from the Chicago Tribune praised how "[the film] takes Spielberg into realms he's rarely traveled before." Dana Stevens of The New York Times said Hanks' performance brought a lot to the movie. However, Joe Morgenstern from the Wall Street Journal thought that "The Terminal is a terminally fraudulent and all-but-interminable comedy." Salon.com wrote that "[the movie is] the worst-directed film Spielberg has ever made."

Inspiration and references

Some have noted that it appears to be inspired by the story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranianmarker refugee who lived in Terminal One of the Charles de Gaulle airportmarker near Parismarker from 1988 when his refugee papers were stolen until 2006 when he was hospitalized for unspecified ailments. In September 2003, The New York Times noted that Spielberg bought the rights to Nasseri's life story as the basis for the film; and in September 2004 The Guardian noted Nasseri received thousands of dollars from the filmmakers. However, none of the studio's publicity materials mention Nasseri's plight as an inspiration for the film.

In a similar event, Ghana football player Ayi Nii Aryee was forced to live in a Philippine airport for six weeks as his passport lacked the necessary immigration stamp from the country (Singapore) he previously flew to and his student permit there was denied. Prior to coming to the Philippines, Aryee enrolled in a computer class in Singapore and applied for a student permit. While waiting, he went to the Philippines to visit a friend only to find himself stranded much like Tom Hanks in the movie.

A scene in which Viktor repeats the phrase, "Bite to eat, bite to eat, bite to eat... " to his reflection in a shop window is reminiscent of a scene in Stolen Kisses in which character Antoine Doinel repeats girls names to himself. Spielberg is known to be a fan of the French New Wave to which Stolen Kisses belongs.

Krakozhia

Krakozhia (Кракозия or Кракожия) is a fictional country created for the movie, that closely resembles a former Soviet Republic. The natives speak the Krakozhian language. From January 16, 2004 to November 2004, the country was in civil war. When the war began, the President of the country was held hostage and a new regime installed, leading to Viktor finding his passport and visa useless. Consequently, Viktor must stay in the airport terminal for nine months, as the United States refuses to recognize the new Krakozhian government, after which peace is declared in Krakozhia and he is able to return home.

The exact location of Krakozhia is kept intentionally vague in the film, keeping with the idea of Viktor being simply Eastern European or from a former Soviet Republic. Throughout the film, it is learned that Krakozhia is bordered with Russiamarker, that the Krakozhian language is akin to or a dialect of Russian, and that the Krakozhian national anthem is musically close to that of Albaniamarker (or the tune of Vajacki marš). Little else is known about Krakozhia, except that there was a lot of fighting which made the international news. We hear of the "northern area" being taken by rebels. The cover of the passport that Viktor shows to the customs officer in one of the initial scenes of the movie closely resembles the modern Bulgarian passport and Russian passport.

Navorski's driver's license is Belarusianmarker. One can see the words Вадзіцельскае пасведчанне (Vadzicielskaje pasviedczannie), which means driver's license in Belarusian and the name of the Belarusian city of Homelmarker. Curiously, the Belarusian name on the driver's license is Гуліна Гульнара Надыраўна (Hulina Hulnara Nadiraŭna); presumably the Belarusian driver's license shot in the movie belonged to a Belarusian girl who immigrated to the USA .

The language which Hanks' character speaks in the film, "Krakozhian", is supposedly close to or a dialect of Russian to the point of mutual understanding, but is actually slightly-accented literary Bulgarian. He probably also speaks Russian fluently, as he learns to speak English by immersion and picking up Russian and English versions of a New York City tour guide and comparing the wording. Tom Hanks' wife, Rita Wilson, whose father is a Pomak, is reported to have coached Hanks in Bulgarian in the course of the shooting of the film. In the same line the name of Viktor's father is Dimitar Asenov Navorski, shaped after the Bulgarian three-section pattern and contains one name popular among contemporary Bulgarians—Dimitar (Димитър). The patronymic Asenov derives from one Bulgarian medieval dynasty and was borne by several Bulgarian Tsars, Ivan Asen II for example.

Krakozhia's name was inspired by one of Spielberg's favourite cities - Cracowmarker in Poland, which is written in Polish language as "Kraków".

The film presents a reasonably accurate picture of the process of naturalistic second language acquisition, according to professional linguist Martha Young-Scholten.

John Williams, the composer of the music for the film, also wrote a national anthem for Krakozhia.

See also



References

  1. The Terminal on Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2008-07-01
  2. The Terminal on Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-07-01
  3. Movie review: 'The Terminal'. Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  4. Movie review: The Terminal, by The New York Times Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  5. Review summary from the Wall Street Journal Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  6. The Terminal review. Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  7. Life in the lounge, BBC
  8. Matthew Rose, Waiting For Spielberg, The New York Times, September 21, 2003, Accessed June 12, 2008.
  9. http://www.theoffside.com/africa/ghana-footballer-ayi-nii-aryee-forced-to-live-in-airport-since-july.html
  10. http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/photo.day.php?ID=109874
  11. http://www.diskoteq.com/news/~id=268
  12. Abstract for talk given at the University of Leeds Department of Linguistics and Phonetics, 26 April 2006.


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