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The Plight of the "Citizen"

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02/05/2006

The Terminal (2004)

Though I can't quite bring myself to add this to the film page (due primarily to quality issues) this Spielberg film deserves at least a mention. Left and Right are in agreement on the virtues of being a citizen, whether forking over our money for redistribution or sending our children off to glorious wars all right-thinking people are agreed that it is as subjects of political collectives that we find our deepest meaning. In this film Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a native of the fictitious Slavic country Krakozhia who finds himself stuck at the JFK airport when a military coup takes place in his home country. "Belonging" to neither his home government, which no longer exists, nor to the U.S. government he has fallen into a "crack" in the bureaucratic system. As the film progresses, he shows himself to be a hard and skilled worker and an honest man but despite winning the approval and support of many private individuals the system will not allow him to take up a normal life since he is not a citizen.

If the film hadn't painted a heartless enough picture of the state with the plight of the central character already, a minor character (Gupta) explains that he has been in exile from his home country for decades because of resisting the depredations of a tax collector who was driving him into hopeless poverty. Though the film falls well short of being a classic, the surprising anti-state themes make this pleasant and funny film worth a rental. Rated PG-13 for mild profanity. See this review.

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