“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Science Fiction / Theatrical Release: 1997 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Kevin Costner / Actors: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo ... / DVD released 1998-09-25 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: PAL, Widescreen „
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The Postman is a film set in a world after a nuclear war in 2013, this makes the film a post apocalyptic staple, it stars Kevin Costner and was released in 1997. The film is based on a book written by David Brin, the film was generally paned on release and I watched the film on TV last night after watching the film at the cinema 12 years ago.
In a post nuclear war apolcalyptic America, we encounter a world without any government and without any laws. The war has gone and left a nation run by local warlords with no inhibiting official action. We meet an initially unknown loner (Costner) who is travelling through the war torn mid west areas of the states. He lives on his wits doing Shakesperean plays as a means of survival, as he travels he meets a neo-fascst warlord General Bethlehem (Will Patton). He escapes the general and finds a crashed car with a dead man who was a postman, he also finds a bag of post. He dons the uniform and at the next town posses as the Postman for the newly reformed US government and the legend of the Postman is born. After that the rest of the film is very formulaic, you know that the postman and the General are going to clash and they do.
The Postman is sometimes derided as one of the worse films around but it never quite slides so low, it has a warm slightly confortable feel which gives something for the viewer to watch. Costner plays a role that he and us are very familiar, the loner turned native who through quiet and pensive actions causes huge changes wherever he goes. He did it once with great success in Dancing with Wolves with poor success in the hugely expensive Waterworld and here again in this middling thriller. This film is though post apocalyptic is in truth a cowboy film, the film wouldn't look out of place set in Dodge city in 1880's.
The concept of the film is interesting with the idea that just the word of over the land salvation is enough for desperate people to listen to a message from a man they've never met. Place him in a pseudo official outfit and a government position and those words become a rallying call rather than dead words. The role of the Postman is one which could have been a superb look at how people need structure and limits but the film soon slides in moralising about good postman v evil warlord. The truth in this case is one which many other films flick around, here we are routing for the government against the marerick.
The film doesn't have many things going for it, Costner rather stumbles through the film on autopilot, this film began his slide away from the summit of Hollywood to being one of the supporting cast. Maybe he made one too many lone silent type for the bosses to stomach?
There are strange sub texts in the film, one has the Postman being asked by a beautiful women and her husband to have sex with her to allow them to have children. This is accompanied by a vague phrase saying he'd had the bad mumps? A vague nod to the nuclear war which had devastated the nation perhaps?
The husband conveniently dies leaving the now beautiful and horny widow to seek solace with the Postman, in truth she becomes the films central role turning into a post apocolayptic Lady MacBeth, pushing her man onto great things.
This film once again defines the world of the post apocalyptic and as far as I can tell if the world ended through some kind of disaster the following are inevitable.
1. There will be a society formed dominated by the gun and car
2. Men will be unshaved, gut totting and always a bit annoyed.
3. We just have to wait for the strong silent type.
4. Being a warlord is a death sentence
5. Never cross a man whose with a beautiful, semi-clad woman.
6. The end of the film will be full of important messages about our society.
Let me start by saying that I think this is a fantastic post-apocalyptic movie and if you haven't already had the chance to see it then you are missing out on a great film.
The biggest problem this film ever had was the fact that "Kevin Costner" had been mauled by film critics leading up to it because of precious flops, so when it came to this being released, regardless of how good it was, it was still picked apart with a fine tooth comb!
Alot of people you speak to may say, "no that film ain't that good, it flopped at the box office". If you hear this, part of what they say is correct, the flopping part. But don't let that stop you from giving it a go, as there is no one I know that hasn't seen the film and enjoyed it, and then said "I know it flopped.....but.....I actually really liked it".
Before you do watch it though, you need to remember that it is a typical Costner film and goes on for around 3 hours (but not a backside numbing 3 hours, it does hold your attention).
We start off with Kevin Costner in the year 2013, a loner that travels with a donkey, searching for food and water etc, in a world ravaged by war, where technology practically no longer exist. As we see this we have a narration by a woman talking about the early and how things used to be.
Before long costner ends up getting recruited (dragged) into a sort of makeshift army led by a man called Bethelehem (Will Patten) who is a bit crazy and infatuated with growing his army so he can basically rule the country that no longer has any kind of government.
During this recruitment, costner ends up attempting an escape from the ranks and successfully secures his freedom after a great few scenes of bloody fighting, killing and a great sequence of events leading to maulings from an injured lion (seriously).
From here costner finds refuge in an abandoned and partly destroyed postal truck, a truck that is full of undelievered post and a unifrom he uses for clothing and warmth. It's not long after that that costner develops a con where he enters a town and pretends he's a postman who is working for a newly formed government and that things are improving, this is a con he hopes will get him food and accomadation.
Hence the title "The Postman"
Before long, costner realises his lie has to lead him to eventually leave the comfort he has found and continue onto other towns with the same con, but little does he know that his lie is inspiring hope in everyone that hears it, and also anger in Bethlehems army.
After a battle between Bethlehem and a town that believes costners lies, costner ends up taking refuge int he mountains with a woman that had approached him earlier for the purpose of him getting her pregnant becaus eher husband couldn't.
Before long, the lie that costner had created, ends up spreading across the whole country but not as a lie, as a story creates more hope and an actual pastal service.
I dont want to say more as it will ruin the film, but what I willsay is that many more things happen that are brilliant to watch, icluding a lead up to a battle.
I found this film particularly good and visualy it covered a wide range of the american country. At times you feel really involved with the characters and are made to feel sad, happy and sympathy exactly as they had intended.
This is a good example of a post-apocalypic event and a very well made film, Costner at his best!
After Kevin Costner's 1995 movie 'Waterworld' sank into a whirlpool of debt and on it's release was mauled by critics and audiences his next directorial adventure, 1997's 'The Postman' was met with scepticism and derision. The movie is typical Costner - at almost three hours long, it's an epic story starring Costner as a likeable hero. Full of interesting characters and heart wrenching storylines this movie has much more in common with Costner's masterpiece 'Dances With Wolves' than it does with his 'Waterworld' flop.
Costner stars and directs 'The Postman'. It is an adaptation of the sci-fi novel of the same name by author David Brinn. The action is set in a post-apocolyptic world where society and the city structures of the United states have crumbled after a nuclear war. Much of the action is set in an almost unrecognisable landscape of desert and ruins. Out of this fragmented world a wandering loner becomes an unwilling hero after he pretends to be a post office worker representing a newly established (but really non-existent) government. The plight of struggling communities, isolated in various parts of the USA, is made worse by threats by an army of cruel men who take what they want from the societies who are trying to rebuild themselves. Costner's postman becomes a symbol of hope, goodness and defiance against this dark army.
Will Patton plays the leader of the army. He is an actor whose face is probably better known than his name. His career carved out of nailing character acting he has turned in some wonderful performances in movies like 'No Way Out' and 'Remember The Titans'. The role of despotic General Bethlehem is a huge character to take on and Patton does a fantastic job. Where he cannot dominate in stature and physical attitude he makes up for in his display of domineering mental attitude. Patton delivers even simple lines in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable and distrustful of this character. He is a very clever actor and is able to turn Bethlehem into someone who really gets under your skin. The character is well written too and Bethlehem's human failings are revealed as motive to his cruel behaviour. Costner's postman is another man who, before the nuclear disaster, was a nobody in the real world. The two characters are not your typical hero and villain but their battle with one another feels very genuine and real.
Costner's character is essentially nameless throughout the film. This makes the character seem very insular and private. His efforts to avoid settling down in any society are laughable. Infact most of the humour in the film comes from the postman's attempt to throw off his unwanted 'hero' status. He comes across as a real wimp sometimes and any audience frustration with the character is vented by Olivia William's character, the postman's lover, a woman who clearly wears the pants in their relationship!
There are some other skilled performances in the movie in particular upcoming actors like Larenz Tate as take-up-arms teenager Ford Lincoln Mercury whose presence onscreen is sparky and memorable.
Some of the dialogue in this movie is a little corny and cliched but there is as much to love as to criticise. Soppy lines like "You give out hope like candy from your pocket..." are quite rightly mocked but there are some epic catchphrases which will stay with you forever. The desperate cries of a father and town leader, rallying his frightened people and spurring Costner's character on to conduct his essential duties in spite of Bethlehem's murderous army are an example of this: "Ride, postman, ride!" stands out as THE tagline of the movie and I defy you not to be moved by this!
This movie is very easy to watch and will appeal to fans of the action, western, drama and sci-fi genres. Quite unfairly, this movie cleaned up at the Razzie awards - awards given to the worst movies and performances in the industry. I think this was really a backlash against Costner and his ego and arrogance more than it was a considered reaction to the movie. The movie is as watchable today as it was on it's release and I'd recommend at least one viewing!
Set in 2013 some 16 or so years after a major apocolyptic event (most likely a war judging by the after effects) we follow the fortunes of a nameless character played by Kevin Costner. He starts out as a simple traveller and entertainer using his talents to get food and shelter.
He is press ganged into slavery in the Holn Army (who it seems are in some way responsible for the war so it may have been a civil uprising to overthrow the US Government), a local brigade run by the fanatical General Bethlehem who was nothing but a simple copier salesman before the war.
He manages to eventually escape and during a storm seeks shelter inside a postal van where he steals the clothes and mail of a long dead US Postal worker and decides to use old mail to trick his way into towns for food and shelter so he is nothing but a con artist playing on the feelings of those without hope.
By sheer luck he manages to get into a city called Pineview where he tells them lies of a newly reformed US Government run by a Richard Starkey (is he so stupid to assume there will be no-one old enough to remember The Beatles?) but the local Sheriff sees through him and makes him leave.
Not long after he goes Bethlehems troops visit and impose their own laws and rules on the citizens again, you see that his troops are nothing more than looters, thugs & cold hearted murderers. You see Bethlehem is nothing more than a modern day Viking, pillaging and taking slaves.
The Postman continues to travel to towns giving false hope but is caught in the next town (Benning, Oregan) & gives further details on the restored US saying the new capital is in Minneapolis with the new seat of Government in the Metrodome (fortunately for Costner as of 2008 they do still play there).
As Bethelehems troops attack Benning for resisting, The Postman is saved from execution by a women they had captured in Pineview (Abby played by Olivia Williams who I thought was Lena Heady), he manages to return the favour by saving her and they flee into the great American wilderness.
Abby manages to evade the troops persuing her and The Postman and treks through snow to a cabin where they seek shelter, whilst trying to treat his wounds she discovers his Holn brand which he explains, they weather out a winter there and then leave by foot (having been forced to eat their horse to survive but I still don't understand why they never took the horse of the guy Abby killed) after Abby burns down the cabin so they have to return to society. Whilst trekking back they encounter a rider who turns out to be a Postal Carrier and she takes them back to their camp which is being run by Ford Lincoln Mercury who The Postman had sworn in back at Pineview.
It turns out Ford has been feeding his Post workers a few lies of his own to maintain morale. A Postal Carrier is captured by Bethlehems men and they embank on a campaign to stop the Postal Service, The Postman even manages to return to Pineview like he promised. Postal Carriers start to go missing as they are captured & killed by Bethlehem forcing The Postman to use guerilla tactics to retaliate against the Holnist troops.
As a new batch of Postmen are sworn in one comes to meet The Postman who thinks he's seen him before (this man eventually turns out to a spy for Bethlehem) and Bethlehem embarks on a campaign of terror against all towns who give or receive mail executing people in every town including Pineview.
The Postman reads a letter to his staff and tells them the Postal Service is disbanded and explains to Abby the true story behind The Postman. Bethelhems spy reveals himself but does not assassinate The Postman which it appears was his mission. Ford delivers the final letter to Bethlehem explaining the truth about The Postman and the fake "restored" Government.
Facing execution Ford meets a carrier from the restored republic of California and Bethlehem discovers he isn't just fighting The Postman, he's fighting an idea (which he refers to as "a ghost").
The Postman & Abby ride West and reach Bridge City (a bit of a misnomer as its built across a dam) which is run by rock star Tom Petty (playing a future version of himself) where they seek shelter as Bethlehems troops ride out to hunt down the remnants of the Postal service to end the conflict.
After being asked by a child what a postman is one of his ex carriers returns his cap (a darn good trick considering you actually saw him burning it earlier in the movie!) and Tom Petty tells him he's famous (its quite a funny scene, I always get a giggle out of it).
The Postman then sets out to raise an army of his own (where did that uniform come from, didn't he burn that as well?) and they ride to finally face General Bethlehem & his troops. Bethlehems spy rejoins the Postmans army and The Postman rides out under a flag of truce to speak with Bethlehem and invokes law 7 of the Holnist clan, the right to fight for leadership. Obviously he wins (in possibly the worst on screen fight ever made even worse by being shown in slow motion) but theres a couple of slight twists which I wont reveal.
The Postman returns to Abby & his baby daughter Hope and we then flash forward to 2043 and St Rose, Oregon and his adult daughter unveils a statue to his memory. It's a feelgood ending leaving you feeling The Postman did bring hope and reunite the people. Like Waterworld this isn't considered a good movie which is a shame as its well shot and based on a very good idea, it only annoys me that you never see Nathan Holn ever in the movie, he is just refered to at times. Like Dances With Wolves this is a bit of an epic as its almost 3 hours long in duration, it probably could do with a major bit of cutting which if done properly could easily remove about 40 minutes of the movie without ruining it.
It's still a good movie and I'd recommend it to anyone.
The Postman tells the story of a post war world where people are picking up the pieces to survive. People have left the ruined cities and have made for the vast wilderness to begin new lives with the main priority being to just survive the day. Technology has ceased to exist; the world has effectively gone back to the Stone Age.
As the story develops Costner's character escapes from the group of mercenaries called The Holnists whose plan is eventual domination, upon his escape he comes across the skeletal remains of a Postman. Costner takes the clothes and wears the uniform of a US Mailman. As he travels he finds that the survivors take him on board and welcome him with respect as they believe that he is still trying to deliver mail. He cons them into a having a false hope and tells them that the President is rebuilding and that more post will be delivered as time goes on. This gives people he meets the hope that America can rebuild itself. The Postman realises this and starts to build upon it to restore the Postal Service and spread the news with a new generation of Postmen and women. The main means of transportation is by horse and this in some parts gives the flavour of the film as a Western mainly due to the fact that the rider has crossed vast deserts to deliver the mail.
Kevin Costner plays the main character of the film, The Postman, this is a character of whom we never find out exactly who he is and details about his pre-war past are scarcely mentioned. He is effectively a con man to start with who desperate for food and somewhere to stay convinces the people around him that there is hope that a new world can be built. The contrast between the same character at the beginning and at the end of the movie is immense as the character is lifted to a status of General with all his fellow Postmen and women acting as the soldiers. This is a perfect role for Costner to have; in fact the role itself is a tough and brutal part that has to overcome the odds.
For every Ying there has to be a Yang and the Yang is delivered in the form of Will Patten. He plays the leader of The Holnists, General Bethlehem, who sees The Postman as the enemy as he is succeeding where they haven't and consider him a threat. Patten is a total sadist and has his own personal army that has a plan and ambitions; they don't see themselves as the bad guys at all. Patten plays the role to perfection and is very effective in the part. I felt he was more Julius Caesar then Adolf Hitler in what he wanted to conquer. The role of Bethlehem is memorable for the way it is played, in my mind it is more dramatic than what the role called for as Patten completely takes it to the next level without hamming the role up.
As well as a love interest for Costner the remainder of the cast have quite extraordinary names. For example Ford Lincoln Mercury and Bandit 20 are just a few examples. I liked this as this allowed identification of the younger characters who do genuinely play an important part in the story as allows a separation from the older characters. In mu mind this gives a new generation feel to the story on what is being rebuilt and formed. Some would argue that this was blatant product placement, but then The Postman does find a working Zippo lighter in the clothes or a dead person who has decomposed to the extent he is just a skeleton!
As with most Kevin Costner films the scale of them are similar to Dances with Wolves or Wyatt Earp and its safe to say that this film falls into that category as well as the sheer scale of the film gives the story a whole continent to work on rather than the story remaining within one specific area or region. The film goes into some depth to build a character and also shows in great detail as to the level of poverty that people are living in as well as the new problems that have been caused by the War. More recently this reminds me of the new Survivors series on BBC1 as even though the catalysts of both are different the bottom line of both Survivors and The Postman is that of survival. In the film it is that subject which is bought to the forefront of the story and shows the struggles that newly founded communities have to struggle with and determine a way forward.
There are a number of action scenes throughout the story and some of these use the time lapse method and produce a valuable medium in which to present the scene, I was impressed with what I saw and how I saw it on the screen which is a compliment to the Director, who in this case just happens to be a certain Kevin Costner. That is not to say that he has given himself the best lines and the best sub-plot at all, but he does take genuine care and attention when filming the panoramic scenes to help telling the story. His way of direction was simple and clean and kept my attention throughout.
At 177 minutes long it's a relief that the film has been released on DVD as you can pause to take a break. However this isn't a slow 177 minutes as the tension builds up significantly towards the end and allows the characters involved to grow and evolve, allowing a vast scope for the story to expand itself, so you get to see more things happening than you would do in a normal post-war apocalyptic film.
Overall this is a good and by far underrated film and by the end the tension has risen to an extent that I found I was shouting at the screen. The clever part of the film was that it started from nothing and grew into something and basically showed that people can change and more importantly can embrace the change that is happening around them. The final scenes of the film are very moving and also relevant to the story as this brings an amount of closure that the audience deserves to have after having a rollercoaster ride of an adventure. Some will say the length of the film is excessive, what I say is that the time only allows the film to grow, any exclusions from the cut that has been released on DVD will only hinder the enjoyment as every part of this film acts as a step and assists in building an epic story of epic proportions.