The Postman (1997)

(On DVD, November 2016) Though largely forgotten nearly twenty years later, The Postman does have a few things going for it. It’s a Kevin Costner-directed movie featuring Costner in his classic stoic persona. It tackles not just the post-apocalypse, but the reconstruction of civilization. It (very loosely) adapts a novel by David Brin, an author I quite like. It is, by nature, fundamentally optimistic about humanity, which is not necessarily something that is expressed all that often in the post-apocalyptic genre. It features some good landscapes from the American northwest, further highlighting similarities with Costner’s western oeuvre such as Dances with Wolves and Open Range. The script isn’t too bad, wrestling a complex subject matter (and often wild source novel) into a relatively enjoyable film. Still, it’s not without its own problems. The most obvious would be the lack of concision in the result, and the overdone sentimentality. The Postman would have been perceptibly better had it been shorter and a bit less overbearing in its mawkishness. Removing some of the slow motion and toning down the insistent score would have helped in making the result palatable to a wider, perhaps more jaded audience. Streamlining the script would also have helped—the final result doesn’t benefit from a lot of repetitiveness and overly-explained context. I’m not overly bothered by the Americano-centrism of the symbolism in what is after all an American movie, but some of the imagery can feel a bit fetishistic to non-Americans. (Woo, post office!) Still, there are a few good moments in The Postman, and the result still feels fresh among other post-apocalyptic Science Fiction films. Even if imperfect, it’s quite a bit better than the crucial consensus seemed to be at the time.

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