From the trailers, I knew The Terminal was a movie I wanted to see. A traveler asks the stranded traveler Viktor Navorsky (Tom Hanks), “Do you ever feel like you live at the airport?” Viktor’s been there about six months, sleeping at Gate 67 when this happens. I travel a lot, so this little exchange made me laugh.
Viktor is from a small Eastern European country near Russia. While he is on his way to New York’s JFK airport, his country has a revolution, he gets no visa and his passport is confiscated by the head of federal airport security, Frank Dixon (Stanly Tucci). Dixon thinks it will only be a day or so before Navorsky can get things straightened out; it takes nine months. So Viktor camps out at a gate that is being remodeled; gets airplane food by making friends with an airport worker, and works for more money than Dixon makes by doing construction and getting paid under the table. Navorsky also has a can of Planter’s Peanuts that everyone wants to know the contents of.
One day a beautiful flight attendant, Ameilia, slips and falls on the wet floor. They become friends (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She is involved with a married man; her whole life has been a chain of relationships with married men. Navorsky falls for her and no matter what she tells him, maintains deep resepct for her.
The Terminal is about people who are stuck: stuck in an airport, stuck in a job, stuck in relationships – all searching for freedom. Navorsky makes several friends, and he is willing to forego getting out of the terminal and into Manhattan to keep his new friends out of trouble. When Dixon is being assessed for a promotion, he is unkind to Navorsky who manages to have many photocopies of his hand made while Dixon is tormenting him. His hand becomes like a flag of freedom to the normally unseen airport workers.
The Terminal is a feel-good movie about a man who goes on a journey to fulfill his father’s dream. It reminded me of those nice Hollywood films of the 50’s that promoted community and family. The only unfulfilled part of the movie for me was that Amelia is the only person who does not get unstuck. She does a kind thing for Navorsky that moves the action along, but she, the main female character, remains trapped and never achieves the freedom that lies just beyond the terminal.
A nice film, yes. But once again, it is the story of the (white) male that is offered to us as the example of universal human experience (although many cultures are represented in the film playing key roles – all but two are male.)