The Postman Rides Again

From: Quantum Machinist (
Subject: The Postman Rides Again (was Re: Armagdeddon: Dumbest film ever?)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.movies, rec.arts.sf.written
Date: 1998/08/11

In article <6qnd8a$>,
Doug Tricarico <> wrote:
>EVENT HORIZON and STARSHIP TROOPERS were orders of magnitude worse than

I'm going out on a limb here, but I rented THE POSTMAN the other night, and... overall, I liked it.  I found portions of the first half to be almost unbearably plodding and often clumsy.  I can easily envision some people walking out of the theater during those parts of the film.  But...

Having said all of the above, I must say that overall I feel this is a good film that tells a fine story.  The quotes from Shakespeare in the narrative were well used, particularly "Once more into the breach, dear friends!"  It illustrates the principle, proven true at many times during history, that a relatively small group of motivated individuals with good leadership can accomplish "great" things (shown for both the Postmen and Bethlehem's gang.)  It tells a believable and, I feel moving (as moving as fiction can be, anyway) story of hope.

I find the idea that someone might follow a calling to join a fragmented society back together by being a heroic postman no less believable than someone following a calling to travel on foot through much of the U.S. to plant apple trees (the true tale of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed) or to make sure that mail got delivered for years, and for free, to folks on the Nevada frontier (the true story of Snowshoe Thompson, though admittedly he expected to be paid by the USGOV at some point -- and was disapppointed :-(

I liked Will Patton in the role of Bethlehem.  The sherriff and Ford Lincoln Mercury were also played well.  Patton played just the sort of cruel pipsqueak who is likely to rise to power during a violent and disorganized period, particularly when the general populace is fearful and largely disarmed (why were there so few guns in the towns, which were in what is generally considered gun-owning territory?  One wonders if the govt. is supposed to have confiscated them "for safety" or "for the common good" during the war.  Gotta love gun registration!)

Costner shows a decent awareness of history (reflecting Brin's) in portraying the towns:  formerly open and prosperous, but now stockaded and fearful in the face of a disappeared central authority and roving gangs of thugs.  Historically, this was the situation in formerly fat, happy and wide-open medieval Germany and France prior to the Viking invasions -- these resulting in the sudden, utter disappearance of governance by the Holy Roman Empire.  This collapse was essentially the beginning of walled-town, rule-by-the-biggest-local-thug "Medieval" life as we think of it today.  Bethlehem mentions the fact that society is feudal once again (more expressed historical awareness.)  Those considering the possibility of negative consequences of Y2K, take note.

I was and am a big fan of the original Brin book; I feel that in general Mr. Costner has improved somewhat on the original story.  A bit more down to earth, a little less science-fictiony.  The movie takes a while to get going, but, I believe, leaves a lasting positive impression.

Mr. Costner, I applaud your work.  May you continue to stand up for your own visions and make films like this that express them.

Malcolm L. Carlock

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