The Terminal: the true story behind the film with Tom Hanks


Back from the success of science fiction Minority Report and the biopic Try to catch me, Steven Spielberg he stated that he wanted to make a film that could make the viewer move, laugh and make peace with the world. He is therefore born from this will The Terminal (here the review), released in 2004 and received very positively by both critics and the public. The film, in fact, offers a light story but not without important themes and reflections, where it puts itself at the center of all humanity, as happens in every work of the Oscar-winning director.

However, the film can also be read as an allegory of the post-9/11 United States. A country increasingly driven by paranoia and a xenophobic spirit, closed in on itself to avoid a possible external threat. From this point of view The Terminal he tackles this situation with irony, proposing solutions that place the sense of community and trust in others as essential elements. Even before that, however, the film became famous for being inspired by a true story, that of the Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi.

The film is not directly inspired by her story, so much so that Karimi’s name is not mentioned in any advertising material relating to the film, and there are many differences between her story and the screenplay by Sacha Gervasi And Jeff Nathanson. Spielberg therefore uses this true story to talk about what is dearest to him, thus offering his audience the moving and entertaining film that he had intended to make from the beginning. So what is Karimi’s true story and how does it differ from what is seen in the film?

The plot and the cast of The Terminal

The story takes place in New York’s JF Kennedy Airport. Here it lands Viktor Navorsky, from a (fictional) Eastern European country called Krakozhia. During the long flight, however, a vicious coup took place in Viktor’s homeland and his passport became invalid. The unfortunate traveler therefore finds himself blocked and forced by the head of security Frank Dixon to remain inside the terminal for an unspecified period of time. A forced stay will therefore begin for him, during which he will experience friendship, love and the strength of human solidarity and the pride of not denying himself.

To interpret Viktor Navorski there is Tom Hanks, a frequent Spielberg collaborator, who based his performance on his godfather, a polyglot Bulgarian immigrant, and even practiced speaking Bulgarian with a Bulgarian teacher. Next to him, in the role of severe Frank Dixon there is instead Stanley Tucciwhile Barry Shabaka Henley it’s cop Ray Thurman. Then there are the actors Catherine Zeta-Jones as stewardess Amelia Warren, Diego Luna in those of the canteen attendant Enrique Cruz e Zoe Saldana as Agent Torres. Kumar Pallana instead it is the elderly cleaner Gupta Rajan.


The real story behind The Terminal

Now that we know what the movie is about The Terminal, we can go and find out what is the true story this is inspired by. The protagonist of this is the Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseriborn in Masjed-e Soleyman in 1945 and from an early age on the front lines of protests against the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last monarch of his dynasty. To escape prison, Nasseri began to seek asylum in various European countries, but was always denied any help. His existence was officially recognized in 1981 by the Belgian authorities from which he obtained the refugee card № 86 399. With all the documents in order, he then decided to go back to the United Kingdom, where he had attended university.

However, he was rejected again and found himself without refugee papers as he had sent them to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Brussels. After a failed attempt to enter France in 1985, he disappeared without trace. He was later found in August 1988 at terminal 1 of the airport Charles de Gaulle, while again attempting to embark for England. At that point he remained in the airport, living in a situation of “juridical limbo” deriving from a vicious circle of the procedures for entering the States. Indeed, the regularization of the residence permit depended on his presenting his refugee card granted to him by the Belgian Government.

But the latter asked Nasseri himself to go and collect it and he could not leave France because his documents were abroad. The situation was unblocked seven years later, in 1999, when he was accompanied to the Bobigny court to collect his documents, but Nasseri surprised everyone by claiming that those documents were incorrect and declared his name “sir Alfred Mehran” and that I am not an Iranian citizen. Nasseri then continued to stay at terminal 1 of the airport Charles De Gaulle until July 2006 when he was hospitalized due to food poisoning. A few weeks before his death, due to an acute myocardial infarction, which occurred in November 2022, he had returned to reside at the airport

The trailer of The Terminal and where to watch the film in streaming and on TV

You can enjoy The Terminal thanks to its presence on some of the most popular streaming platforms on the net today. This is in fact available in the catalogs of Rakuten TV, Chili Cinema, Google Play, Apple iTunes and Paramount+. To see it, once the reference platform has been chosen, it will be enough to rent the single film or subscribe to a general subscription. In this way you will be able to watch it in total comfort and at the best video quality. The film is also present in the television schedule of Wednesday February 1st at 21:00 On the canal Iris.

Source: IMDb

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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