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TO: Dr. Joe Scarcella
FROM: Phil Fournier
RE: 502/3, Video Review, Fournier

Video Review by scholar Phil Fournier


Movie TitleThe Terminal (2004) starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones, available from Gary’s Video in Hemet for rental, purchase at .


The Terminal is about Victor Navorski (Tom Hanks) who is trying to get to New York to fulfill his father’s lifelong wish (something you do not learn about till nearly the end of the film.)  He is from the fictitious Eastern European country Krakozia, presumably a former Soviet state. While trying to get through customs his country’s government is overthrown in a military coup d'etat.  Since the United States does not recognize his country’s new leadership, Victor must stay in the International Arrivals Terminal.  He can neither return to his own country nor enter the U.S. proper.  He ends up staying in the terminal for nine months waiting for a resolution.  During that time he struggles with his limited English, his lack of money, and his desire to accomplish the purpose for which he came to the United States.


There are several threads that run through the movie that would make it worthwhile to students.  The main one is the value that Victor places on his purpose, coupled with his unwillingness to attain his purpose through unethical means.  This is a theme I preach on in my classes, regardless of the subject.  As auto technicians we often fail in valuing properly the service that we have to render to the public.  For that reason, prices are often too low to be sustained over the long run, and the consequences for the industry are severe.  It results in technicians being under-rewarded for their excellence and as a secondary result, continuous attrition from the industry as good people look elsewhere for their rewards.  Another problem is a lack of ethics.  In the film Mr. Dixon, the chief of security at the airport, is confounded by Victor’s ethics.  Though Mr. Dixon gives him ample opportunity and even makes life difficult for him in an attempt to force him out, he will not walk out of the airport until he has the legal right to do so.  So in auto repair, there are many opportunities to exploit the public for financial gain.   At times it could be rationalized that exploiting a public that refuses to place a proper value on the services of a skilled technician is a justifiable offense.  But two wrongs never do make a right.


In the (rather disappointing) end of the film, the flight attendant Amelia remains true to her flaky character in spite of Victor’s kindness towards her.  While I didn’t like that from the standpoint of the film, in truth it is a better reflection of real life.  People will often be unappreciative of outstanding efforts made by others.  And so I teach my students, the auto technician’s rewards must largely come from within.  The consciousness of a job well done must be a sufficient reward for it is not likely that the motoring public will understand the level of difficulty nor appreciate the lengths to which the technician had to go to affect a successful repair.


I would highly recommend this film to other instructors.  It is a slow-moving film and has little action, and is probably quite a stretch to have happen in real life.  But I enjoyed very much the plot and Tom Hank’s masterful depiction of a non-English speaking person.  It was easy to empathize with his character’s struggles and the romantic sub-plot was likewise both entertaining and touching.  I think it is a film I would enjoy sufficiently to purchase, and not many films fall into this category.


Sent by e-mail and posted at on 12/19/04