Are you coming or going?

I don’t know. Both.

Recently I re-watched Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal starring Tom Hanks, Stanley Tucci, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

I did not really care for it the first time I watched it, which was probably around 2005 or 2006 when they first aired it on television. I was in 5th/6th grade at the time and simply lacked the… life experience I guess? or maturity? to properly enjoy the movie.

What’s interesting is that even though I did not enjoy the movie at the time because it felt too drab and slow compared to other movie genres I usually enjoy (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, you get the picture), it was one of the movies I couldn’t get out of my head. The soundtrack by John Williams, the director, and the casting were just too good for me to pass this movie as mediocre.

So multiple times I re-watched this movie and I watched it at different points in my life. High school, post-high school gap semester, college, study abroad, college, and now. And I just cannot believe it took me this long and this many tries to finally truly appreciate this movie.

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The Terminal is about a man named Victor Navorski who gets stuck in JFK International Airport because the country he was from (named Krakozhia) has a sudden outbreak of civil war, which led to the United States government not recognizing it as a sovereign nation. As a result, Victor could not obtain an entry visa, and must instead stay in the airport indefinitely. The story unfolds with Victor waiting inside the airport terminal, slowly befriending various people in the airport, trying to survive, and ultimately realizing his goal of entering the US.

What I realized upon watching this movie most recently, is that this movie is essentially about people waiting.

So many characters in this movie are waiting for something in their lives. Amelia (Zeta-Jones) waiting for a phone call from her lover, Enrique (Luna) waiting for Dolores (Saldana) to open her heart, Gupta (Pallana) waiting out in the US unable to face his crime, and even Frank (Tucci) waiting for Victor to make a false move.

But what I felt was interesting and ironic at the same time is that Victor, who is literally waiting in the airport terminal, is the driving force behind the end to people’s state of inactivity. His presence in their lives somehow triggered momentums for everyone to move forward, when he is the one who, on the surface, seem to need the most help with an end to his waiting.

Those who seem most free are held captive by their inaction, and Victor, on the other hand, may not be free in a literal sense, but is free to makes changes and bring action and vibrancy to his life.

I also admired Victor’s positive aura and outlook on life. He has this air of nonchalance that no ordinary people would have when faced with a grim reality. Though I see myself as a glass-half-full type of person, I certainly don’t think I would achieve as much as Victor did, or even smile as much as he did, if I were placed in his situation.

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This movie has gifted me with such a fresh perspective yet a sense of powerlessness at the same time. I myself am waiting for a change in my current life. And even though it seems like I have the power to make the changes, at the same time I feel powerless under the society, like somehow the feeling that I have some power is merely an illusion.

To be honest, watching this movie, seeing how powerless everyone besides Victor is, and seeing how ordinary their lives are just like mine, kind of crushed me. And what I fear the most is that I would be like the character Enrique in this movie (who I think is the most pathetic and least deserving of his happiness in the end), just standing in the back waiting for Dolores to open her heart to him despite never facing her himself.

All in all, I see the brilliance of this movie as I became more mature and understanding of human relationships and interactions. The simplicity of the setting or storyline in this movie is so enticing for viewers and Tom Hank’s presence on screen has certainly filled my heart with warmth.

I highly recommend everyone to watch it, or rewatch it like I did! It has definitely become one of my favorite movies.

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