Reviewed by: Steve Hanson
This movie opens in a post war, northwestern area of the United States. The few survivors are perishing for a lack of vision, lack of government, lack of culture and lack of postal service?
Enter Kevin Costner, “the Postman.”
Costner, a vagabond Shakespearean actor conscripted into a small madman’s army escapes from the megalomaniac General Bethleham (Will Patton) and in fleeing takes refuge in a wrecked mail carrier’s jeep. The mailman is still in the jeep, a mere skeleton of himself, and Costner being cold and wet takes the carrier’s uniform to keep warm.
Later, finding a small village, he uses the uniform to impersonate a real “postman” to get food. The village folks are astounded that the mail is now back in service and find hope in this. They subsequently send Costner out to continue rebuilding the Restored U.S. government’s lines of communication.
While in the village, Costner is propositioned by a beautiful woman Abby (Olivia Williams) who wants Costner to impregnate her so that she and her husband can have children. The husband is a willing partner to this as he had the mumps and is now sterile and unable to father a child. Costner is the prime candidate for “body father” as he is a stranger who is going to leave anyway and never had the mumps. He thinks about it a short time (very short) and is then seduced by the woman and leaves town to begin rebuilding the postal service.
Of course this rebuilding of the old government is opposed by the new power, General Bethleham, and a struggle ensues pitting Costner and the new “postal service” against the Clan of “8”s, the General’s army, to see who will control what little is left of society.
I read this book 20 or 25 years ago and enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t like the movie. If you too read the book you will barely recognize the movie.
This movie is the third in Costner’s line of movies dealing with the survival of a culture after cataclysmic events. “Dances With Wolves”, the plains Indians being driven out of their homeland by the environmentally challenged whites; “Waterworld”, where some men have mutated into part man, part fish (who says evolution isn’t true?) and now “The Postman”.
The most powerful impression I brought out of this movie was the total lack of representation God or faith in any form. Other than one scene where some townspeople say a prayer before they let an impatient Costner eat, there is nothing to do with faith, God, or anything related. It is man alone in a desperate effort to survive against other men.
However, never to fear, Costner gives us the solution. Hand to hand combat to the death between the Postman and the General to settle all disputes and leadership of the “clan.” Is this barbaric feudalism really the future Hollywood and the humanists see for us? Without God, it is all they can see!
This movie contains one scene with very explicit sex and some violence (although not the goriest by any means). The plot is very predictable and slow for all the struggle represented in it. To me, the message of this movie is very clear (although not Costner’s desired message)… without God, men will always and only trade one tyrant for another.