Inside Move: Balkan balking

Slovenia comes down with 'Terminal' illness

A lot of countries would be thrilled to hear that a Hollywood studio was planning a movie based around them, but Slovenia isn’t one of them. Not, at least, when the movie claims a “fiery coup” has just erupted there.

So goes the plot of DreamWorks’ upcoming film “The Terminal,” in which Tom Hanks plays a traveler whose country obliterates itself in war while he’s en route to New York.

When DreamWorks was first developing the script, the studio thought Viktor Navorski (Hanks) sounded like a good Slovenian. So they contacted Mark Ryavek, counsel general emeritus of Slovenia.

These days Ryavek sells books about Slovenia on the Internet (www.booksofslovenia.com), many of which he sold to DreamWorks for research on his “peace-loving little Alpine country.”

“They bought about $1,000 worth of books. Atlases, architecture books, picture books, a CD of some folk songs,” he says.

“In the original script Tom Hanks was supposed to be a craftsman, and they were trying to figure out what kind of craftsman, so they bought a book about craftsmen of Slovenia.”

Ryavek had no trouble with the craftsman plot point. What he didn’t like was the unstable nation aspect.

“If you are suggesting that in 2004 Slovenia would have a coup, you’re showing your ignorance of the country,” he says.

In fact, unlike its war-torn neighbors Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia has had peace for the last decade.

In the end, DreamWorks scrapped the Slovenia idea and made up a fictional country instead: Krakozhia.

Ryavek hopes Slovenia eventually makes it into another, gentler movie.

“An ‘Amelie’ or a ‘Chocolat,’ ” he says.

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