Airport chase

Iris Burgers. Non-place theory, see: Augé, M., Non-Places. Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity, Londen, Verso, 1995.

It is safe to say that an airport doesn’t settle into a permanent shape just as it doesn’t allow its visitors to settle in for a long stay even when one is stranded there. In the 2004 film THE TERMINAL (Steven Spielberg 2004) Viktor Navorski [Tom Hanks] is trapped in the ‘International Transit Lounge’. He is lost, ‘fallen between the cracks’ of two countries. This makes him, according to the head of Homeland Security, ‘unacceptable’ as a non-person without an identity. With some difficulty Navorski eventually made a home within the terminal, found friends and even love. How is this possible in a location that is a non-place according to Marc Augé (1995)? The airport, mainly a representation of New York’s JFK, is state of the art; high security, high-tech architecture that exposes the structure of the building, huge light passageways, shops everywhere. But a home it’s not and that becomes very clear at the beginning of the film when an officer of Homeland Security puts Navorski in the lounge. Navorski asks him what he is supposed to do while he’s there. The reply is: ‘There’s only one thing you can do here, Mr. Navorski. Shop.’ (source: paper 'Transient Glamour' for the Liverpool conference 'City in Film'. Iris Burgers)

Articles

Arrival and departure signs

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

When applying Augé’s theory on non-places we find that in this case Navorski builds himself a ‘place’ within the ‘non-place’ airport. While a ‘non-place’ is a passage, which creates solitude amongst its visitors, ‘places’ assign identity to its dwellers, are connected to other places and things and are in a sense historical (Augé: 85 -86, 94 – 95). According to Augé, people can establish a certain familiarity with specific non-places when they frequent them a lot (Augé 1995: 98). Navorski of course becomes very familiar with the airport, but what he does that eventually makes him at home, is that he adapted his environment to his needs. The viewer sees this when the new and unfinished terminal where he sleeps and eats, starts showing more and more signs of habitation. For instance we can see that someone has put a plant there and a wheelchair functioning as a chair has a makeshift cover over it. Navorski making friends and a finding job, contribute to his ‘place’ within a non-place, yet this situation is only applicable to him. (source: paper 'Transient Glamour' for the Liverpool conference 'City in Film'. Iris Burgers)

2004

Establishing shot of empty terminal

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

The architecture of THE TERMINAL is very accurate, even though the movie was not filmed in an actual airport. Everything right up to the lettering on the signs is very realistic. The terminal is mainly combination of a huge waiting room and shopping mall with high security. This is the current state of affairs for real life airports. More and more airports have invested in facilities, aimed at attracting non-flying visitors as well as making sure that flying visitors spend as much money as possible. (source: paper 'Transient Glamour' for the Liverpool conference 'City in Film'. Iris Burgers)

2004

Security and customs

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Establishing shot - rush hour

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Establishing shot - rush hour

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Establishing shot - rush hour

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport shopping area, landside

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport shopping area, landside

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport shopping area, landside

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport shopping area, landside

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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To airport lounges

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport Starbucks

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport at night

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Trying to make a liveable environment

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Trying to make a liveable environment

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Big brother is watching you -  airport homeland security

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Airport floorplan

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Luggage handlers

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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Overview landside terminal

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport.

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A non-place place

The Terminal (2004). Studio version of JFK Airport. Navorski managed to transform a waiting lounge into his personal space.

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Arrival and departures sign

Flightplan (2006).

In the disaster movie FLIGHTPLAN (Robert Schwentke, 2006) Jodie Foster and her daughter have to fly back from Berlin to New York. The presentation of the German airport in this film is striking. This airport is incredibly dark and menacing. Deep blues and greys dominate the colour scheme, making everything look cold and uninviting. The scale of the airport also feels much larger than normal. You could say that this is taking the non-place- aspect of airports to an extreme. It’s obvious though that this airport gives a foreboding of the trouble that is ahead. (source: paper 'Transient Glamour' for the Liverpool conference 'City in Film'. Iris Burgers)

2006

Check-in counter

Flightplan (2006).

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Patrolling police in the airport terminal

Flightplan (2006).

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Overview of the terminal

Flightplan (2006).

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Searching for lost child

Flightplan (2006).

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Searching for lost child

Flightplan (2006).

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Pier with giant airplane

Flightplan (2006).

The massive airplane in which most of the film is set, the Aalto Air E-474, supposedly has a wingspan of ‘twenty nine car garages’ and can seat 800 passengers. The only plane that comes near in real life is the new Airbus A380 that has a wingspan of nearly 80 metres and can seat 555 people. Current airports already have a considerable problem accommodating the Airbus. An airplane this big can’t land on a runway if it’s not enforced with special concrete and it would also be a problem of dealing with so many extra passengers at once (Knox 2005). This problem is not addressed in the film and seems to be no problem. FLIGHTPLAN is therefore a little bit ahead of its time. (source: paper 'Transient Glamour' for the Liverpool conference 'City in Film'. Iris Burgers)

2006

In pier before boarding

Flightplan (2006).

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Putting out airplane fire on tarmac

Flightplan (2006).

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Boarding the airplane

Flightplan (2006).

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Flight and departure screens

Red Eye (2005).

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Lines of people waiting

Red Eye (2005).

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Delays & waiting

Red Eye (2005).

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Air side terminal

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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Overview of terminal

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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Airport chase

Red Eye (2005).

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