The Postman (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kevin Costner|
|Produced by||Kevin Costner
|Screenplay by||Eric Roth
|Based on||The Postman
by David Brin
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Editing by||Peter Boyle|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||December 25, 1997|
|Running time||178 minutes|
|Box office||$17,626,234 (USA)|
The Postman is an American post-apocalyptic film directed by and starring Kevin Costner, and based on the 1985 novel of the same name by David Brin. The film co-stars Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo, and Tom Petty. It was filmed in Metaline Falls and Fidalgo Island, Washington, central Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona.
The film is set after an unspecified apocalypse has left a huge impact on human civilization. A nomadic survivor flees a warlord's army while unwittingly inspiring hope of restoring peace.
The film was released on Christmas Day 1997 by Warner Bros.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2012)|
In 2013, global society collapses and nuclear war has crippled civilization. Into this wasteland comes an enigmatic and nomadic survivor (Kevin Costner), wandering the flatlands of Oregon. Needing food and water, he trades performances of Shakespearean plays. A neo-fascist army run by General Bethlehem (Will Patton), captures the nomad and decides to add him into the army's ranks. These Holnists are a remnant force formerly under farmer-turned-general, Nathan Holn, who had long since died. Bethlehem has since taken command of the army.
Each member of the large army is branded on the arm with a figure "8." The force is held together through fear, with death as the only punishment for infractions. Bethlehem sees the nomad as a threat and an asset. He nicknames the nomad "Shakespeare", due to his abilities to quote the Bard.
Eventually, "Shakespeare" is selected for a hunting expedition for a lion spotted earlier. He finds the body of a scout and makes his escape by jumping into a river. He later takes refuge in an abandoned mail carrier van with the skeleton of the postal carrier still inside. After burying the postal carrier he sets off, arriving at Pineview, a settlement in lower Oregon. He claims to be an actual postman, from the newly restored government, to gain entry. He claims the new capital is based in Minneapolis and led by a new president named Richard Starkey. He's able to produce a letter addressed to a member of the town, written by her sister in Denver 15 years earlier. They proceed to give the Postman more mail to deliver. He quotes always "things get better, day by day". This gives people hope for life and inspired by him.
The Postman inspires a teenager named Ford Lincoln Mercury (Larenz Tate), and swears him into the faux restored postal service. One night, the Postman is approached by Abby (Olivia Williams), a woman seeking a "bodyfather" to impregnate her due to her husband's infertility. Initially hesitant, but with her husband's blessing, the Postman spends the night with Abby before fleeing the town. Days later, during a raid of Pineview, General Bethlehem learns of "the Postman" and his tales of restored government.
Bethlehem burns the American flag and new post office. Later, he kills Abby's husband when refused permission to have sex with her. Bethlehem eventually discovers the Postman during a battle with the town of Benning, Oregon. Abby is rescued from Bethlehem's army, and the two narrowly escape into the surrounding mountains, though the Postman has been badly wounded.
The Postman and Abby hide in an abandoned cabin in the Blue Mountains. Abby tells the Postman she is pregnant with his child. As spring arrives, the two cross the range and run into a young girl, who claims to be a postal carrier. It is revealed that Ford Lincoln Mercury has left Pineview and organized a postal service of his own, connecting the area's communities. They help towns and settlements to communicate and inadvertently spread the fictional tales of a restored government.
Bethlehem orders the execution of the postal carriers, and the ensuing fights escalate into a running small-scale war. The Postman gets help from a Vietnam War veteran, who teaches him guerrilla warfare tactics. However, his postal carriers are mostly teenagers pitted against a better-equipped enemy. The mounting casualties dismay the Postman, who orders everyone to disband. He writes one last letter to be delivered to Bethlehem, saying the postal service is over and that the restored government is gone. Ford volunteers to deliver the message, knowing that he will be killed afterward. Bethlehem reads the letter but does not believe it is over, and he plans to kill Ford and another captured deliverer. When the two captured postal men meet, however, they do not know each other: The other man introduces himself as a postman from California, meaning that other areas of the country are beginning working toward restoration as well (likely inspired by the Postman's example). Bethlehem realizes that the ideal of a rebuilding, with the postmen as catalyst and product of restoration, is loose and unable to be contained, and that Ford's death will stop nothing. He decides to keep Ford as a hostage, but murders the other postman.
The Postman, Abby and a small group of postal carriers travel west, away from the Holnists' territory. They come to Bridge City, built on an old dam wall. The settlement is run by a celebrity from before the war, Tom Petty (though never mentioned by name, it is alluded to that he was "famous once."). Seemingly trapped between the dam and Bethlehem's scouts, the enclave leader helps the Postman to escape on a cable car to find volunteers for an army to fight Bethlehem's forces. Before leaving, the Postman and Abby spend their last moments together, as they have fallen in love.
The Postman gathers a large number of volunteers in a last-ditch attempt to end the conflict. Using King Henry V's speech prior to the Battle of Agincourt, the Postman manages to rally his troops. However, not wanting any actual casualties from the battle, the Postman personally challenges Bethlehem for Holnist leadership, invoking "Law 7," which he learned of during his time in the conscript army. The law states any Holnist member can challenge the leader and if victorious, take his spot. Bethlehem realizes that the Postman and "Shakespeare" are the same man; he accepts the challenge but is defeated. He does not accept his loss and the Postman's subsequent offer to build themselves a new, peaceful world, and tries to shoot the Postman, but is killed by his former first officer (Joe Santos). The officer then surrenders himself to the Postman, and the rest of the Holnists follow. After Abby and the Postman settle in Bridge City, she gives birth to a baby girl, whom she names Hope.
The story concludes 30 years later, when Hope (Mary Stuart Masterson) attends a tribute to her late father in St. Rose, Oregon. From the modern clothing and signs of modern technology, it is suggested that the country has grown in development to approximate its pre-war status. A statue is unveiled with the inscription, "He delivered a message of hope embraced by a new generation,". A man and his wife stare at the statue of the Postman catching a letter from a small boy—echoing a scene from earlier in the movie, with the man recognizing himself as the boy.
- Kevin Costner as The Postman
- Will Patton as General Bethlehem
- Larenz Tate as Ford Lincoln Mercury (John Stevens)
- Olivia Williams as Abby
- James Russo as Captain Idaho
- Daniel von Bargen as Pineview Sheriff Briscoe
- Tom Petty as Bridge City Mayor (a future version of himself)
- Scott Bairstow as Luke
- Giovanni Ribisi as Bandit 20
- Roberta Maxwell as Irene March
- Joe Santos as Colonel Getty
- Ron McLarty as Old George
- Brian Anthony Wilson as Woody
- Peggy Lipton as Ellen March
- Rex Linn as Mercer
- Shawn Hatosy as Billy
- Ryan Hurst as Eddie March
- Charles Esten as Michael
- Anne Costner as Ponytail
- Ty O'Neal as Drew
- Andrew Babel as Captain Strikard
- Cary Jordan as Dr. Stevens (Psychologist)
- Ellen Geer as Pineview Woman
- Tom Bower as Larry
- Lily Costner as Lily March
- Joe Costner as Letter Boy
- Judy Herrera as Carrier
- Greg Serano as California Carrier
- Mary Stuart Masterson as Hope, the Postman's daughter (uncredited)
- Joseph McKenna as Holnist Captain
- George Wyner as Benning Mayor
|The Postman (Music From The Motion Picture)|
|Film score by James Newton Howard|
|Released||December 23, 1997|
|Label||Warner Sunset/Warner Bros.|
- Main Titles
- Shelter in the Storm
- The Belly of the Beast
- General Bethlehem
- Abby Comes Calling
- The Restored United States
- The Postman
- "Almost Home" – Performed by Jono Manson
- "It Will Happen Naturally" – Performed by Jono Manson
- "The Next Big Thing – Performed by Jono Manson
- "This Perfect World" – Performed by John Coinman
- "Once This Was The Promise Land" – Performed by John Coinman
- "I Miss My Radio" – Performed by Jono Manson and John Coinman
- "Come And Get Your Love" – Performed by John Coinman
- "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice" – Performed by Amy Grant and Kevin Costner
Cast and crew information
On his personal website, author David Brin reveals that while the studios were bidding for The Postman, his wife decided during a screening of Field of Dreams that Kevin Costner should portray The Postman. Brin agreed that the emotions evoked by Field of Dreams matched the message he intended to deliver with his novel. A decade later, after learning Costner would be cast as the lead, Brin said he was "thrilled" – more so when Costner's interpretation of the Postman's character was similar to Brin's. Costner threw out the old screenplay (in which the moral message of the novel had been reversed) and hired screenwriter Brian Helgeland; Brin says the two of them "rescued the 'soul' of the central character" and reverted the story's message back to one of hope.
In an interview with Metro before filming began, Brin expressed his hope that The Postman would have the "pro-community feel" of Field of Dreams instead of the Mad Max feel of Costner's other post-apocalyptic film Waterworld. Brin said that, unlike typical post-apocalyptic movies that satisfy "little-boy wish fantasies about running amok in a world without rules", the intended moral of The Postman is that "if we lost our civilization, we'd all come to realize how much we missed it, and would realize what a miracle it is simply to get your mail every day."
The Postman received negative reviews from critics.
Stephan Holden of The New York Times criticized the movie for its "bogus sentimentality" and "mawkish jingoism". Roger Ebert described The Postman as "good-hearted" yet "goofy... and pretentious". However, Ebert recognized the movie as a failed parable, for which he said the viewers "shouldn't blame them for trying". On Siskel & Ebert, Ebert and Gene Siskel gave the film "two thumbs down", with Siskel calling it "Dances with Myself" (in reference to Costner's Oscar-winning film Dances with Wolves) while referring to the bronze statue scene.
According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 9 out of 32 film critics gave the film a positive review, with a rating average of 3.8/10. Metacritic gives the film a metascore of 29 out of 100 based on 14 reviews.
Awards and nominations
|Saturn Award||Best Science Fiction Film||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Will Patton||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Kevin Costner||Nominated|
|Razzie Award||Worst Actor||Won|
|Worst Screenplay||Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland, based on the book by David Brin||Won|
|Worst Original Song||The entire song selection||Won|
- "DavidBrin.com". DavidBrin.com. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
- Brin, David (1998), The Postman: An Impression by the Author of the Original Novel, retrieved January 15, 2012
- Stentz, Zack (6/12/1997), "Brin on science fiction, society and Kevin Costner", Metro, retrieved August 3, 2007
- Holden, Stephen (December 24, 1997). "Movie Review: The Postman". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
- Ebert, Roger (December 25, 1997). "The Postman". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 3, 25, 2007.
- "Siskel & Ebert At The Movies – The Postman".
- The Postman. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- "The Postman (1997)". Box Office Mojo. 23 January 1998. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
- "'Titanic's' Voyage Is Steaming Ahead". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
- Parish, James Robert (2006), Fiasco – A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops, Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 359 pages., ISBN 978-0-471-69159-4
- Turner, Barnard Edward (2005), Cultural Tropes of the Contemporary American West, Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen, pp. 267 pages., ISBN 0-7734-6219-8
- The Postman at the Internet Movie Database
- The Postman at AllRovi
- The Postman at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Postman: The Movie, an impression by the author of the original novel, by David Brin.
|Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture
18th Golden Raspberry Awards
An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn