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'Terminal,' Other Films Ponder U.S. Post 9/11
Tue Jun 15, 2004 03:17 PM ET
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Frank Dixon, as a representative of the Homeland Security Department, puts Navorski in the international traveler terminal where he is free to roam. But he cannot leave. Dixon, played by Stanley Tucci, makes that clear.

The terminal is filled not only with foreign travelers, but also by immigrants and working class employees of the fast-food restaurants and gift shops who earn minimum wage paychecks.

"The International terminal is a microcosm of the early immigrant experience coming here to America," Spielberg said.

The serious message about a nation founded by immigrants closing its doors to visitors, does not stop "Terminal" from having many light moments. Navorski has to find places to sleep, bathe and eat in the terminal. He also falls for Zeta-Jones and is a go between in another airport love affair.

Spielberg admits some of the serious ideas "will go right over audience heads." It is, after all, a summer movie.

But maybe not. A pivotal moment comes when Navorski does Dixon a favor, then puts his overseer in a bad situation. Dixon enforces his authority, but does so in a show of inhumanity.

The twist is that Dixon, although the villain, is not a bad guy. He is doing his duty, being responsible and trying to earn a promotion. "Post 9/11, people want Dixon to do his job, and they want him to be good at it," said Spielberg.

Beyond "Terminal," "Heart and Soul," which opens in theaters on July 2, profiles people who have chosen lifestyles outside normal bounds, but one of its themes is that these people are free to pursue and enjoy their individuality.

Director Louis Schwartzberg said he did much of the filming before Sept. 11, but now is a better time to release the film.

"We have some important decisions to make on what direction we want to take our country in," he said.

And that is exactly one of the questions posed by Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which hits theaters June 25.



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