The Terminal

The Terminal

In Steven Spielberg’s latest, The Terminal, Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a resident of a make-believe East European country, Krakhosia, travels to New York City on a sentimental mission but gets stranded at Kennedy Airport when a revolution back home deprives him of citizenship and passport. Until the revolutionaries organize a new government and receive recognition from the United States, Viktor is a man without a country. The airport’s bureaucrat in charge of admissions and security, the field commissioner (Stanley Tucci), instead of arranging a provisional diplomatic solution, thrusts food coupons and a pager into Navorski’s hands and, warning him not to venture outside the terminal, turns him loose in the International Transit Lounge.

Let’s stop right there. No one can doubt that bureaucracy can be heartless. But why would an ambitious, intelligent, and efficient bureaucrat, as the field commissioner is shown to be in at least two scenes, make trouble for himself by turning a harmless tourist into a vagabond within the bureaucrat’s jurisdiction? We all know what would happen in reality. Local TV news programs and, soon thereafter, 60 Minutes, would glom onto poor, sweet Viktor and his plight, making him a national hero and crucifying the heartless official who victimized him.

But, in The Terminal, the press never gets wind of Viktor’s situation, and there’s still more tomfoolery from the...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.