Few stories have that ability to make you feel like there are very important aspects about our culture that are vital to living the way we do. Being classically educated, I find that in literature, such stories are much more readily available. It is no surprise then that this movie, “The Postman”, is in fact based on a book by author David Brin. However, there are things in film that come across much more clearly than in a novel. This movie is a testament to both exposing the vital aspects of our culture and conveying the aspects of the novel it is based off of much more clearly.
This is an older film, but I often find it necessary to search through older films to find something truly worth watching. Folks, this movie is definitely worth watching. It stars Kevin Costner in a brilliant role as the unnamed hero of this film. He is simply “the Postman”. Set against the backdrop of a war-torn America of the not-so-distant future, the film chronicles the importance of communication.
We often forget in this day and age of cell phones, email, and text messaging that humans desire contact with other humans. We’ve all heard the statement “stay in touch”. How important can that be to our culture? As Americans – since I cannot comment on being anything else – we talk to the same folks day after day, for the most part. The list is usually pretty short: family, friends, and loved ones. Imagine, just for a moment, what it would be like to have no phones of any kind and no computers. Now, imagine trying to live your life in small villages being threatening by an imposing armed militia of warmongers.
I ask again: how important can communication be to our culture?
This film takes that concept and focuses in on the reality of the situation. People are scared to travel. They live in walled in communities and have almost no weaponry to defend themselves. Meanwhile, there is an army patrolling the countryside, with loads of guns, whom are taking “tribute” from the communities in exchange for their “protection”. Their feudal-minded leader is General Bethlehem, played wonderfully by William Patton. This General is a warlord willing to take want he covets.
The scary part about this movie is that such a reality could really happen. Cut off from the rest of the world, people are seemingly at the whim of this medieval warlord roaming the countryside. Into this scenario comes an unlikely hero: a harmless loner with a talent for Shakespeare just trying to make his way in the wilderness. By impersonating a postman, he starts a revolution of sorts. People, longing for contact from their “short list” I mentioned earlier, eagerly embrace the postman and his charade. The irony is, the Postman actually resurrects the old Pony Express. Many of these walled-in citizens eagerly join up to become postmen themselves. In carrying word from one community to another, these postal carriers become part of something greater than themselves.
Eventually, General Bethlehem attempts to end this unification of the communities through the postal carriers. A war is inevitable, even though our unlikely hero attempts to end it peacefully. This film has a lot of “deeper issues” being presented than most films these days. It’s so rewarding to watch this film because it shows us all something we take for granted: communication. We are able to talk to whomever we like whenever we want. You’ll look at postal carriers in a new light after seeing this movie, I guarantee.
Although classified as Science Fiction (since it is set in the future), this film feels more like an old Western of sorts. I can only say that you really can sink your teeth into this film. Celebrate it by enjoying the movie with a friend. It will give you both something to discuss after the credits roll. Just remember my question: how important is communication to our way of life, our culture?
…that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.
- The Postman – Review (popcornturkey.com)