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Steven Spielberg

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David Roche

Spielberg, Ethics & Ideology

The Viktor Navorski Show: Surveillance, Paranoia and Reality TV in The Terminal

Sébastien Lefait

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From Minority Report to The Terminal: Surveillance Ideology and the Scope of Spielberg’s Commitment

1Judging from his filmography, and especially from the “trilogy of terror” (Hoberman 128) in which he “addressed the national trauma and the repressive political climate of the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney era” (McBride 487), Spielberg is particularly concerned by the rise of surveillance societies. As I have shown in previous research (Lefait 59–66), his vision of surveillance is at once political and aesthetic. It is political because of the way it exposes a totalitarian drift of surveillance, characterized, for instance, in the dystopian Minority Report. It is aesthetic in that surveillance allows Spielberg to analyze power-related visual patterns in filmmaking, thus complementing the director’s critique of “scientific hubris” (Kendrick 184).

2Yet despite the prominence of Minority Report and other political works in Spielberg’s filmography, critics have often been only half-convinced about his commitment to directing “serious movies” alongside his “popcorn” productions (Wasser 10). The Terminal is a case in point. Even though it was released in 2004, the film seems to contradict the view according to which, “in the post-9/11 world, a global audience responds to [Spielberg’s] more critical views” (Wasser 4). Indeed, on the surface at least, the film conveys the carefree atmosphere of Spielberg’s pre-9/11 productions and may consequently appear ill-suited to his fans’ new areas of interest. This may be due to The Terminal’s flimsy, life-inspired plot. As many critics have noted, the film is based on the true case of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who lived in Charles de Gaulle Airport after his expulsion from Iran (Wasser 209). He remained inside for eighteen years for lack of a national status that would have allowed him to either get into the U.S. or go home. This absurd situation provides Spielberg with material for a comically Kafkaesque plot (McBride 488). His main character, Viktor Navorski, is confined to JFK International Airport because the government of his home country, Krakozhia, has been overthrown during his flight to the U.S. He ultimately manages to enter the country thanks to a one-day emergency travel visa, once the Krakozhian coup is over. He then completes the mission assigned to him by his late father: to collect Benny Golson’s signature at a jazz club, the only one missing from the collection of jazz star autographs his father had started in his lifetime.

3This revelation of the trivial lifegoal pursued by Viktor’s father leads to a nostalgic ending, in accordance, apparently, with The Terminal’s lack of political scope. Beyond surface appearances, however, the film recalls Minority Report, as its surveillance apparatus is filled with critical potential. Yet unlike the Philip K. Dick adaptation, it eventually limits its “decidedly political edge” to a sentimental immigration tale (Wasser 15). As such, this feel-good movie exemplifies the main contradiction in Spielberg’s work: between light (or mass) entertainment on the one hand, and committed movies on the other. The Terminal reveals the dark corners of the dreamlike universe Spielberg has been creating for so long (Wasser 193).

4In what follows, I contend that such judgement is erroneous concerning The Terminal because it fails to take into account an essential fact in the film’s genesis. The film is based on a script by Andrew Niccol, that constantly echoes and references Niccol’s previous script for The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998) (Clarke 143). The Terminal’s aesthetics, which combines surveillance and reality TV, bears so much resemblance to The Truman Show’s that the changes from the 1998 movie stand out as updatings. Consistent with this running reference, the airport functions like a kind of TV studio, in which the Director of Customs and Border Protection, Frank Dixon, follows Viktor’s every move from the airport observation deck and uses JFK’s CCTV system to select a few moments from his daily routine (Morris 346). Like The Truman Show, The Terminal insists on how thin is the line between a surveillance system and the shooting equipment of reality TV, especially if surveillance cameras are fitted within a walled-in place, which is what the airport is to Viktor.

  • 1 According to Joseph McBride, Spielberg “began planning a major cinematic exploration of such issues (...)

5To understand how The Terminal fits into Spielberg’s filmography, I will study how he used Niccol’s script and its similarities with The Truman Show, and why he considered this new take on a similar plot essential for his study of “Patriot act USA.”1 I will show that the main difference between the films is the new role of surveillance in the post-9/11 context, and that analyzing recent changes leads Spielberg to value commitment over entertainment.

Exploiting Surveillance Microcosms: Cast away, The Truman Show and The Terminal

6Critics have noted that The Terminal treats JFK as a “microcosm of American society” (Friedman 284) on the one hand, and as a surveillance space on the other (Morris 344). Few, however, have attempted to connect the two, for instance, by concluding that surveillance, here, reduces the world to the size of an airport and simultaneously gives the airport a worldwide scope. This dimension is clearly elicited by an analogy with two other films: The Truman Show, as suggested above, but also Cast Away (Zemeckis, 2000), a film The Terminal is intertexually connected to through its star, Tom Hanks, who plays the lead part in both cases.

7In all three films, the main character is trapped in a space from which he cannot escape. He is in between places, in transit between two locations. He has to learn how to cope with a hostile environment, till he finally manages to escape. While Truman and Chuck Noland are outside of time, Viktor is trapped in between time zones. He is also stuck in a space of exception, which prevents him from either venturing out into the U.S. (like Truman) or going home (like Noland). Because he does not speak English, he interacts very little with an environment he finds very strange at first, which is what Chuck has to do on the island, and what Truman will have to learn how to do when he leaves the glass dome in which he was raised.

8The connection, however, is stronger with Peter Weir’s film. Like Truman, Viktor is constantly being watched. He is observed by the cameras of a directorial figure, Dixon, as Truman was by his creator Christof. In both cases, real-time footage is edited into a “best bits” selection offered to the spectator’s gaze. For Viktor, this happens by chance, as surveillance unexpectedly turns him into a popular on-screen character. Soon enough, virtually all the denizens of the airport gather around CCTV monitors to follow “The Navorski Show.” Like Truman, Viktor is cheered on by his fans when he manages to escape his surveillance dome [110:30].

9The main similarity between the two films lies in the connection between constant surveillance in a secluded place and the creation of an entertaining audiovisual program. The main difference lies in the order of events, hence in the logical links between surveillance and entertainment. The surveillance microcosm of The Truman Show creates a dreamlike world on the inside, the safest of places for a citizen to live in. Conversely, the outside was defined as a dangerous place. But this, for Truman, had little value compared to true freedom, a feeling he transmits to viewers who are encouraged to massively support his decision to leave. The surveillance cameras kept him locked in, but his imprisonment only lasted until he found out where he really was. The surveillance around him was not directly repressive; CCTV did not so much monitor him to imprison him, as capture his daily routine for viewers to watch. And when he expresses willingness to leave, Christof organizes the script to make him afraid of an outside world where he would no longer be protected by constant surveillance. Consequently, Truman’s behavior could seem suicidal: why should he want to leave the easy life inside the dome and choose the hardships and disappointments of the outside world? Viktor’s paradox is just the opposite. Dixon and his assistant Thurman wonder why he does not want to leave when he is offered the opportunity of to do so. They try to instill a fear of Krakozhia in him, but he ends up fearing the U.S. as glimpsed within the airport and clearly says so to Dixon. These essential differences between the situations in both films suggest a new relationship to his surveillance environment, the airport, as well as to the outside world.

Post-9/11 Surveillance and Paranoid Mechanisms

  • 2 Kendrick underlines that Spielberg is fond of “cluttered interior spaces” which “provide the mise-e (...)

10This changed view of surveillance is no surprise given the context in which the story takes place. In many ways, security measures in the U.S., and especially at “ports of entry” such as airports (Price 473; Jenks 2)—which are “constitutive of, and also potentially disruptive to, modern state power” (Feldman 333)—have turned Truman’s surveillance universe from imaginary hypothesis into fact of life. To illustrate this, Spielberg uses a real story and a real panopticon: post-9/11 JFK. He targets post-9/11 measures for diverting public spaces of their initial uses by insistently dividing the airport between areas for the watchers (the observation deck, the various mezzanine floors and restricted security areas) and for the watched (the arrival hall, the international zone, the airport detention center). In an early scene, Dixon’s assistant Thurman gives Viktor guidelines after freeing him into the international transit lounge [8:50]. The list of things he is allowed to do or not do illustrates the imprisonment that awaits him, and is similar to the recommendations the inmates are given when entering state penitentiaries. Viktor’s entrapment behind closed doors2 thus sets the stage for a methodical critique of the measures that have made his predicament possible in the land of freedom that is also, supposedly, a nation of immigrants (McBride 488).

  • 3 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Open Society Justice Initiative, Citizens of Nowh (...)

11The film’s attack hits the target thanks to the verisimilitude of its allusions to airport legislation. Unlike Truman who has received an artificial identity at birth, Viktor has been deprived of nationality and identity by recent security measures. The USAPA of October 26, 2001 had a huge impact on air travel and immigration procedures. Additionally, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 “requires that entering students be scrutinized through a system called SEVIS,” because “the acts of terrorism in the United States before and after 1993 were conducted by individuals who had entered the country on student visas or were non-immigrants” (Wong 131). Although Viktor is not a student, he is a visitor to the U.S., a situation that overlaps those targeted by USAPA and SEVIS. In the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, “section 403 repeals the provision of law that requires inspections at airports to be completed within 45 minutes from the time the passenger presents himself for inspection” (Jenks 2). This explains why Viktor’s transit lasts so long. Another reason is that he has no way of proving his nationality and has no “fall-back nationality” available either. As a result, he ranks among the growing number of stateless people in the post-9/11 context (Feldman 321), exemplifying how they have “lost the right to have rights.”3 Unlike Truman, who was unaware he had been deprived of his rights in the first place, Viktor helplessly loses them at the beginning of the film. Through this development, The Terminal analyzes the impact of surveillance on the individual. What makes the film unique is the way a fairly traditional critique of current socio-political trends underpins a deeper, more philosophical concern for human ontology. What is at stake, here, rather than just contemporary social issues such as the spread of surveillance, is how they may affect what essentially defines us as human beings. The first consequence of this new state of surveillance on human beings is a general atmosphere of paranoia, which Spielberg is used to exploiting for its sensational quality (Kendrick 133).

12Starting with Truman himself, the characters in The Truman Show are not paranoid. By contrast, the “chain of strategically placed television cameras” monitoring JFK, as well as the gaze of those in the “Big Brother” room that “replicates governmental agencies assuming surveillance authority in the name of national security” seem to cause widespread anxiety (Friedman 285). Surveillance, which is intended to create a sense of security, inadvertently places Viktor at the center of an entertaining TV show. Ironically, Dixon then uses the surveillance apparatus to frighten Viktor away. After trying in vain to make Viktor illegally enter the U.S., Dixon realizes that, through a legal subtlety, the trouble-causing foreigner may finally leave the airport if he expresses fear of going back to his home country and claims refugee status in the U.S. Yet unlike Truman, Viktor does not seem very eager to leave his gilded cage.

Fig. 1 — The Terminal: Dixon singles out a group of Chinese tourists on his surveillance monitor.

Fig. 1 — The Terminal: Dixon singles out a group of Chinese tourists on his surveillance monitor.

13There are several ways of accounting for this change. The first is to notice that cameras are now everywhere around us instead of being set up specifically to focus on one character. Accordingly, their primary purpose is not to shoot a reality show, but to monitor people’s actions on the assumption they may be unlawful. This is underlined at the outset when Dixon focuses on a group of Chinese tourists at the immigration and naturalization service (Fig. 1) [1:30]. Looking down from his panoptic deck, then through the CCTV unit to get a closer view, he notices their Disney World sweaters and the conspicuous absence of cameras. To Dixon, this is a clue that allows him to—rightly—profile them as intruders. As a result of the suspicion maintained by constant surveillance, paranoid reactions prevail among the inhabitants of the airport. An immigrant wanted in his homeland, Gupta the janitor sees CIA and KGB agents everywhere. He and other airport employees have Viktor lie through the luggage scanner prior to sharing their meal. Dixon and Thurman are astonished at Viktor’s unwillingness to leave and expect future misbehavior. Dixon himself frets at the thought he will fail to obtain his promotion if his superiors notice Viktor’s presence, although the latter is not causing any serious trouble.

The Viktor Navorski Show: Reality TV Nightmare or Reality TV Dream?

From Airport Rags to Airport Riches

14All the characters are paranoid, except for Viktor. Even seeing his own country at war on television does not make him susceptible to fear. Unlike the Americans, he is not afraid of his compatriots. This may explain why his behavior looks so odd to others: he seems, as a foreigner, to discover a potential immanent to the airport that the other characters are blind to. Through Viktor’s behavior, therefore, the film defamiliarizes the audience’s experience of airports as dangerous places. Instead of doing everything he can in order to leave, Viktor manages to figure out how to cope with staying there. Even during his stay, he does not become as paranoid as the other characters: on the contrary, he teaches them how to relax. In one of the film’s climactic moments, he refuses to say he is afraid of his country, even if it is his ticket out [42:00]. Eventually, when offered the possibility of visiting New York, he stays there just long enough to fulfill the mission his father assigned to him, before eventually going home to his grim and desolate country. Quite a falloff, indeed, from the lure of Disney World hinted at through the incident with the Chinese at the beginning of the film.

15Viktor’s quirks contribute to the film’s overall meaning. In fact, his puzzling behavior makes sense for many reasons that have rarely been commented on. First, Viktor had probably never planned to stay in the U.S. in the first place. He has come to collect a signature for his father—nothing more—and the one-day visa he eventually gets is enough for him to do so. Like his father, he does not seem interested in coming to grips with American reality. To him, the dream inside the airport is as good as it gets, and Spielberg exploits its utopian potential. In typically Spielbergian fashion, however, the dream world is exposed as a façade for Viktor, recalling that his father merely collected indexical traces of his American fantasy. After peeping beyond the façade throughout the film, Viktor eventually listens to Benny Colson’s performance before asking for his autograph—a mere symbol of Americana. Moments later, Viktor’s final words in the film underline that it is his decision to go back to Krakozhia: on his way to the airport, the Albanian cab driver asks him where he wants to go, and Viktor gleefully replies: “I’m going home” [115:50]. As this final dialogue emphasizes, Viktor would have had to remain at the bottom of the social ladder had he stayed in the U.S.—a fact of which he is fully aware by the end of the story.

16Accordingly, what Viktor learns within the airport does not convince him that the U.S. is the right place for him: it persuades him, rather, that he has to go home, like many other characters in Spielberg’s works, chiefly E.T. and Cinque in Amistad. He gradually becomes aware that being separated from reality by its audiovisual pictures is a soothing fact, but also an escapist decision. Viktor’s powerlessness in front of CNN TV reports of a coup in his homeland reflects that of millions of Americans in front of the falling towers on 9/11. This is when he starts perceiving the American utopia as, in fact, a dystopia. He eventually shortens his American trip to physically confront the reality of Krakozhia, after experiencing the coup and its consequences only vicariously, through the airport’s TV screens. Thus, his behavior is similar to Truman’s, who wants to see what truly lies through the looking-glass.

17Unlike Truman, however, Viktor does not choose American reality. During his stay at the airport, he has realized that it does, in effect, encapsulate the U.S., but also that there may not be much more for him to find outside—except, perhaps, disappointment. The airport contains most of what consumer America has to offer. Additionally, the way Viktor learns how to access American consumer goods fits the patterns of traditional rags to riches stories. He is the archetypal Hollywood immigrant: clever enough to turn his makeshift hamburger into a real one after he has managed to make money in the airport. He soon sets up abode in international terminal gate 50 and obtains a first-class travel kit. Although limited in his exchanges because he does not speak English, he proves able to communicate with others. He even turns this disadvantage into an asset in the scene where he helps another immigrant who has come to the U.S. to aid his father [64:22]. As such, he is an ideal example of “how ample, comprehensible naturalistic exposure... can lead to a relatively advanced level of second language proficiency” (Young-Scholten 1). Finally, he soon becomes part of a “virtual rainbow coalition of blue-collar workers” in the airport, joining a community whose members have decided to help each other (Friedman 284).

18Crucially, although he remains “at the bottom of America’s melting pot” (Friedman 285), he gets full access to the American dream, in the sense that it remains just that: a dream. He realizes this illusion can be cut short abruptly when Dixon blackmails him, threatening to put the dream to an end for his airport worker friends. He becomes a celebrity in his utopian universe, falls in love with a young flight attendant, Amelia, and conquers her against all odds. To him, the airport becomes the easy-does-it universe of Truman’s reality show: why should he try to escape this dreamlike microcosm?

Fig. 2 — The Terminal: Viktor realizes his escape has been staged by Dixon.

Fig. 2 — The Terminal: Viktor realizes his escape has been staged by Dixon.

Using Surveillance to Reach Stardom

19The main reason may be that he has turned surveillance from dire predicament into personal asset. This is very clear in the scene where Dixon offers him an escape way (Fig. 2) [25:08]. Spotting the camera above him, Viktor realizes that the scene has been staged in order to make him leave, and that Dixon is watching him through the CCTV system as he unwittingly performs a script written out for him. Because he understands he is being framed by surveillance cameras, he sees beyond the concrete exit offered him. This epiphany is similar to Truman’s, with a significant difference: Viktor realizes at this moment that physical escape is to no avail, as he will find similar surveillance outside the airport—only on a larger scale. Conversely, he starts realizing what kind of life he may create for himself in this surveillance environment. This fast learner of a foreigner soon draws more and more attention to himself. His media success, at least within the confines of the airport, climaxes in the scene where virtually all the members of the airport’s security team gather around the CCTV monitors to watch Viktor’s latest odd action (Fig. 3) [26:20]. All eyes turn to the screen on which Viktor appears, the screen becoming a TV broadcasting a reality-based entertainment program. Noticing his new popularity, Viktor then learns how to exploit surveillance to regain control over his destiny, the same as Truman did in Weir’s film. Yet unlike Truman, Viktor realizes in the end that his success story is only possible inside the airport. The same applies to his affair with Amelia, which does not stand a chance of enduring once they are out in the real world. By contrast, Enrique Cruz, the first-class lounge food manager, eventually gets married to Dolores Torres, an immigration officer, but the whole event, wedding included, takes place within the airport.

Fig. 3 — The Terminal: the airport security team watches Viktor on the monitors.

Fig. 3 — The Terminal: the airport security team watches Viktor on the monitors.

The Airport as Spielbergized Microcosm

20As a place apart, the airport allows Viktor to live within a Spielberg film of the popcorn type, if only for a little while. Past the initial hardships, it becomes an ideal place of escape where things work just fine and dreams come true. Unlike Truman who did not know what he would find beyond the dream, Viktor does, and he does not want to go there. He chooses to go home, a place that is neither a dream nor an illusion. Potentially, his decision reflects Spielberg’s own to choose serious or committed movies over light-hearted ones that may provide viewers with the comfort of escapism, but that may have a less direct cultural impact than his more realistic historical films.

21In fact, the American microcosm within the airport illustrates what Hoberman has called the Spielbergization of reality: a distortion that makes it appear more comfortable, more prone to offer equal opportunity or just love than it really is (119–135). Besides fitting the patterns of many of Spielberg’s plots, the environment Viktor encounters within the airport provides him with a selection of American culture, divulging some of the main sources of Spielberg’s imaginary universe. References abound, illustrating that the airport is, in fact, a synecdoche of American culture: Friends (NBC, 1994–2004) is mentioned for its idealized vision of New York; Star Trek fan culture is also shown to influence some of the characters’ worldviews; an allusion to the Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959–1964) indicates that nothing is what it seems in the airport; a reference to the musical Cats alludes to the virtually-enhanced reality within the airport, etc. (Morris 348).

Fig. 4 — The Terminal: Viktor’s reflection donning a Hugo Boss suit.

Fig. 4 — The Terminal: Viktor’s reflection donning a Hugo Boss suit.
  • 4 Morris explains that The Terminal shares much with Chaplin’s comedy style in general, and mentions (...)

22Brand names have also become an integral part of this culture. On his arrival, Viktor asks where he can find Nike shoes [07:47]. Later on, in one of the many scenes that recall “Chaplin’s comedy,”4 he creates the illusion of donning a Hugo Boss suit thanks to his reflection cast in a luxury shop window (Fig. 4) [76:21]. Freedom is supposed to be asserted and maintained by the ability to buy consumer goods, which substitutes for true, total access to the American dream. The underlying critique of the contemporary U.S. is that, though the country may be closed to immigrants, its businesses must remain open for all. Like Truman’s 24/7 surveillance dome, Viktor’s airport is one gigantic advertisement, designed exclusively for product placement through reality-TV entertainment (Morris 346–347). In the end, both worlds prove to be mere figments. In order to reinforce the idea that the American dream is a fake, Spielberg had “corporations [build] mockups of their airport booths at their own expense” (Wasser 201). Although officially designed to reduce production costs thanks to Truman-show type product placement, this also made the booths more realistic in their obvious fakery, consistent with the film’s presentation of a dream that dissolves by being exposed as an illusion. In short, the airport offers an America embellished by reality television, fitting the patterns of neo-capitalist ideology (Grazian 68). As such, it presents a small scale vision of what Spielberg achieves in his lighter movies, in which his “camera blend[s] television and cinema virtues” (Wasser 7).

Conclusion: Spielberg’s Reflection: Escapism vs Commitment

23Through self-reflexive strategies, Spielberg thus expresses doubt about the value of the escapism he provides for the audience. Conversely, he seems to be expressing, with The Terminal, the temptation to fight for his country with more serious films. A remarkable shot near the end encapsulates how the film helps Spielberg assess his level of commitment. It shows Viktor’s Indian friend Gupta on one of the airport runways, stopping a plane by standing in front of it to divert attention from the airport’s security staff and allow Viktor to leave (Fig. 5) [107:18]. Quite explicitly, this is a reference to a similar image of a man standing in front of a line of tanks on Tiananmen Square.5 Gupta sacrifices himself for Navorski. Knowing he will be arrested and sent back home immediately to be imprisoned as a political activist there, he chooses to fall into a self-made trap to help Viktor.

Fig. 5 — The Terminal: Gupa stops a plane to help Viktor escape.

Fig. 5 — The Terminal: Gupa stops a plane to help Viktor escape.

24From the beginning, the film emphasizes the paranoia of Gupta who knew the airport’s security department would be keeping an eye on him. By standing in front of the plane, he not only reiterates a strong act of resistance that took place in a much more aggressive context, but in so doing, he performs the very threat the surveillance gaze sees in him. He turns this sudden correspondence between what he is supposed to be and what he eventually becomes into the ultimate act of confrontation. In addition, reenacting the picture of Tiananmen resistance turns him again into the person he is outside the U.S.: a political activist. Consequently, his action is an indirect acknowledgment that his identity as an American immigrant is an illusion and, perhaps, an outright lie. He seems to have been inspired by Viktor’s own decision to choose the harshness of reality over the comfort of the superficial dream.

25The two characters pose as potential inspirations for the spectators, and perhaps for Spielberg himself. The Terminal views the escapist dream world Spielberg has been creating in his films with aesthetic distance, as the director tries a different approach than in Minority Report to get in touch with current societies. It is as if he were teaching himself, and the audience along with him, about the necessity of seeing beyond the dream as the premise to political action. He has recently continued in a similar vein with Bridge of Spies, which takes its spectators out there, on the other side of the Berlin Wall, to see what lies beyond the nightmarish visions spread by paranoid Cold War propaganda. Like Viktor, Spielberg has experienced the dream, but it no longer prevents him from facing the harsh reality that lies alongside it. In a way, he proves to himself, with The Terminal, that light entertainment and political commitment are not just compatible. Rather, they should work together within a film to generate new forms of commitment, by inviting spectators to look beyond the surface of American culture.

Bibliographie

Clarke, James. Steven Spielberg. Harpenden, UK, North Pomfret, VT: Pocket Essentials, 2004.

Feldman, Leonard C. “Terminal Exceptions: Law and Sovereignty at the Airport Threshold.” Law, Culture and the Humanities 3.2 (1 June 2007): 320–344.

Friedman, Lester D. Citizen Spielberg. Urbana and Chicago: U of Illinois P, 2006.

Grazian David. “Neoliberalism and the Realities of Reality Television.” Contexts 9.2 (2010): 68–71.

Hoberman, J. “Laugh, Cry, Believe: Spielbergization and Its Discontents.” Virginia Quarterly Review 83.1 (Winter 2007): 119–135.

Jenks, Rosemary. “The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. A Summary of H.R. 3525.” Center for Immigration Studies, June 2002.

Kendrick, James. Darkness in the Bliss-out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.

Lefait, Sébastien. Surveillance on Screen: Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2013.

McBride, Joseph. Steven Spielberg: A Biography (Second edition). Jackson, MS: UP of Mississippi, 2010.

Morris, Nigel. The Cinema of Steven Spielberg: Empire of Light. New York: Columbia UP, 2007.

Price, Polly J. “Stateless in the United States: Current Reality and a Future Prediction.” Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No.12–229, September 30, 2012. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Data_Integrity_Notice.cfm?abid=2154470. Accessed on August 31, 2016.

The Terminal. Dir. Steven Spielberg. DVD. Dreamworks France, 2006.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Open Society Justice Initiative. Citizens of Nowhere: Solutions for the Stateless in the U.S. www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/citizens-nowhere-solutions-stateless-us, accessed 3 November 2015.

Wasser, Frederick. Steven Spielberg’s America. Cambridge, UK, Malden, MA: Polity, 2010.

Wong, Kam C. The Impact of USA Patriot Act on American Society: An Evidence Based Assessment. New York: Nova Science Pub, 2007.

Young-Scholten, Martha. “Interlanguage goes to the movies: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal.” Paper presented at Language and the Media, Leeds, September 2005. www.ncl.ac.uk/elll/assets/pdfs/theterminal.pdf. Accessed on January 24, 2016.

Notes

1 According to Joseph McBride, Spielberg “began planning a major cinematic exploration of such issues even before the Bush regime took power in 2000 and instituted the USA Patriot act in 2001, with its sweeping restrictions on traditional American constitutional rights. [This] showed that the liberal filmmaker was keenly attentive to the underlying philosophical questions and had his ear to the ground in a time of already increasing encroachments into civil liberties” (490).

2 Kendrick underlines that Spielberg is fond of “cluttered interior spaces” which “provide the mise-en-scène with a sense of lived in realism” (46).

3 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Open Society Justice Initiative, Citizens of Nowhere: Solutions for the Stateless in the U.S., www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/citizens-nowhere-solutions-stateless-us, accessed 3 November 2015.

4 Morris explains that The Terminal shares much with Chaplin’s comedy style in general, and mentions The Immigrant (1917) as the most relevant comparison (348).

5 This image is available at www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tiananmen-square-what-happened-to-tank-man-9483398.html. Accessed on August 31, 2016.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 — The Terminal: Dixon singles out a group of Chinese tourists on his surveillance monitor.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/5243/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 215k
Titre Fig. 2 — The Terminal: Viktor realizes his escape has been staged by Dixon.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/5243/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 201k
Titre Fig. 3 — The Terminal: the airport security team watches Viktor on the monitors.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/5243/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Titre Fig. 4 — The Terminal: Viktor’s reflection donning a Hugo Boss suit.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/5243/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 156k
Titre Fig. 5 — The Terminal: Gupa stops a plane to help Viktor escape.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pulm/docannexe/image/5243/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 178k

Auteur

Université Paris 8.

Sébastien Lefait is Professor of American Civilization at Paris 8 University. Besides articles about films and Shakespeare’s plays, he has published on the new forms of film adaptation. His work also focuses on the complex relationship between surveillance and audiovisual productions, and on the reflexive dimension of contemporary TV series. His recent publications include In Praise of Cinematic Bastardy (2012, co-edited with Philippe Ortoli), Surveillance on Screen: Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs (2013), and La question raciale dans les séries américaines (2014, co-authored with Olivier Esteves). His current research focuses on the use of surveillance in audiovisual productions, on the American reality TV culture and on racial issues in recent TV shows.

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