starring Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride and Diego Funa
written by Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson
directed by Steven Spielberg
Contrary to what many people I have spoken to say and think, I believe that the premise of The Terminal is the real-life case of an Iranian man who spent years living in France’s Charles De Gaulle Airport in the 1980s and 1990s, caught there without a country because he possessed a pre-revolutionary Iranian passport not recognized, with an invalid visa inside it. I have forgotten the man’s name, and I only know of him because of an old episode of the American news magazine TV show, “60-minutes.”
Like so much, this situation is Americanized and transferred to an American setting - JFK International Airport in New York - where Victor Navorsky (Hanks), from the fictitious central Asian country of Krakozhia (reminds me of Chechniya), gets caught in a crack in international diplomacy because his country’s government was overthrown in a coup d’etat while he was in the air. He is not allowed to leave the airport and enter America, but remains trapped there in the international terminal, at Gate 64.
Problems are immediate. Where does he sleep? How/where does he wash? How does he eat? He has no money. He doesn’t speak English. Victor overcomes these problems with an eccentric idiosyncrasy that is the comedic engine of it all.
For me in Japan this film is excellent for teaching certain vocabulary - like“Customs and Immigration” - and certain phrases. Specifically, questions that arise when traveling abroad like, “What is the purpose of your visit? Business or pleasure?” and, “Return ticket,”and, “How long will you be staying?” You cannot imagine how much difficulty I have had in the past trying to teach the question, “Do you have anything to declare?” to adult students.
I immediately empathize with Victor’s plight when he realizes he cannot enter America and that there is a war going on in his country. Illiterate in English, trapped in the stress of the international terminal. I understand illiteracy, and the stress of travel is what puts me off traveling.
It’s an American movie, so there has to be romance, right? That’s why Catherine Zeta-Jones gets thrown in. I usually avoid Catherine. She is such a talentless actress that she habitually ruins everything she touches. But you should definitely make time to see this movie.