First things first.
The Postman is an artistic triumph. Everyone else is blind.
Phew, there we go. That had to come out. It’s good to know where we all stand from the get go.
This is a story about a hero, tempered by the elements, his own doubts and the slings and barbs of his enemy. A rough edged everyman with a tough job to do and grin that’ll bear it. LIFE, BIRTH, DEATH, REVENGE, LOVE, LETTER BOXES. This is a story about a postman.
Let’s take a moment for our proud boys and girls in blue. Bringing the mail whatever the weather, as long as it’s not too windy/cold/rainy, the bag isn’t too heavy and they don’t fancy a sneaky fag too much. With their sexy dinky shorts and handsome luminescent bag stripe… Some of us dreamed of being postmen when we were young…
The Year is 20somethingsomething, America has been reduced to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, isolated townships trying to eke out a meagre existence under the ever present threat an army of survivalist nut-jobs who’re obsessed with ETHNIC COMPLEXION (which confusingly I’m pretty sure was a limited edition MAC pallete). They’re lead by Will Patton playing a tin-pot dictator with military pretentions, delusions of grandeur, a natty beard and who likes doing bad paintings. If only we could somehow relate this to some other evil dictator famous for being a prick, producing substandard artwork and having terrible facial hair then perhaps we could blame all the world’s troubles on shitty art students… Into this mess steps down-on-his-heels drifter Kevin Costner, who after a series of comic mishaps involving lions, amateur dramatic productions and savage knifings finds himself impersonating a postman of the fictitious Restored United States.
And this is the crux. By donning the uniform Kevin is not just transformed into a mailman, he becomes AN EMISSARY OF HOPE. By taking peoples’ twenty year old mail, you know, the crucial need to know stuff like how little Jimmy wants his grandpa to know he lost a tooth. This postman doesn’t deliver pizza flyers or home insurance ads. He’d kill you for suggesting it. He delivers warmth, love, community values and the spirit of rebellion. Something you iphone twitching, bandwidth polishing, social and cultural deadites will never truly understand. Stamp glue is the grease that turns the wheels of mighty nations. MIGHTY NATIONS. Which of course means we get lots of lingering shots of rusted post badges and stately old mail offices – those tarnished, but enduring symbols of hope and liberty.
Anyway, becoming an all round super badass postman takes a lot of Costner’s time and he has to go on JOURNEY to discover the true spirit of maleness mailness within him, which involves gunfights, barn dances, adopting itinerant waifs, heroic rescues, rousing speeches and a metric ton of bubble wrap. Somehow, in-between reawakening the inherent goodness in his fellow man and persuading people that backwards baseball caps are super cool (they are) he even finds time to put his package through Olivia Williams’ mail slot (Confessions of a Postman ohohohohohohoho).
His journey really does pack it all in (that three hourish runtime aint for nothing) and allows for the delivery of some absolutely spectacular dialogue sections. The sort of epic philosophising that makes Voltaire and Kafka read like a McDonalds menu as hammered out in wingdings font by the shit-caked ham-like stumps of a mange-ridden troglodyte .
“You give out hope like it was candy in your pocket.” (Wish I could get a hold of some of Costner’s pocket candy)
Or this fantastic exchange between Costner and Tom Petty. Wait, what do you mean ‘Tom Who?’ You know, TOM PETTY!
Kevin Costner: I know you. You’re… famous.
Tom Petty: I was once… sorta. …
Tom Petty: I heard of you, man… *you’re* famous!
Kevin Costner: Yeah, I guess I am…
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu~ This is just so meta. I guess Costner’s character isn’t nicknamed Shakespeare for nothing.
Or, last but not least, the Dixon’s leaflet that broke the Postcamel’s back.
“You’re a godsend, a saviour.”
“No, I’m a postman.”
When someone defiantly declares they’re going to resist tyrannical authority and brave certain death because ‘I’M A POSTMAN’ you may find yourself throwing up a little in your mouth in sheer disbelief. As the full implications of this earnest, dead-pan, batshit twattery begin to filter their way into the deeper recesses of your brain, you may even find yourself beginning to teasingly cut yourself with the splintered edge of the DVD case, your higher functions subconsciously urging you toward the welcoming embrace of the void…
BUT ENOUGH OF THAT NONSENSE.
Of course, as is always the case, while getting impressionable young sprouts to ride around throwing shoddy dystopian newspapers and car insurance ads made of daub through people’s windows Costner finds he’s formed the basis of a mighty army to oppose the evil survivalists, who aren’t too impressed with his delivering hope to the masses and shagging Olivia Newton. Hmm, seems like we need a final showdown between the forces of good and evil: cue final battle scene
YES. WE HAVE WAITED FOR THIS MOMENT! IT ONLY TOOK THREE HOURS BUT WE’RE FINALLY THERE! As a ragtag army of fresh-faced postal dreamers face off against the seemingly insurmountable horde of Holnist Orcish Oiks. I guess it’s time to go postal.
“FORTH! DOWN FEAR OF DARKNESS! ARISE! ARISE, RIDERS OF COSTNER! SPEARS SHALL BE SHAKEN, SHIELDS SHALL BE SPLINTERED! A SWORD DAY… A RED DAY… AND THE SUN RISES! RIDE NOW… RIDE NOW… RIDE! RIDE FOR RUIN AND THE WORLD’S ENDING! DEATH!”
Oh wait. Hold on. Seems that instead of a battle Costner and Will Patton are just going to wrestle a bit…
BUT THAT’S STILL GOOD.
Look at them rolling around in the dirt. He’s beating on that former photocopier salesmen. It is like two dads fighting over the result of the 100 meter egg and spoon race on Sports day. What glory. What savagery. Truly war is a terrible yet beautiful thing. How can you possible crown such an awe inspiring spectacle? With the greatest comeback line in cinematic human history.
Really. Forget Water World, this is Costner’s masterpiece, the glimmering pinnacle of his splendid pantheon of triumphs. Two hundred and sixty minutes of pure unadulterated celluloid manna. Let us now turn to the film itself for our concluding statement
Olivia Newton: “Tell us about him [Costner].”
Wide-eyed waif (who I think is one of Costner’s own children):
“He’s only the greatest man who ever lived!”
That he is child. That he is.
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