by KE Monahan Huntley
IL Postino recounts the story of a diffident postman and a world renown poet, set against a backdrop of conflicting political, societal, and spiritual ideologies (objective story domain of psychology; os concern of conceiving). Mario, the main character, is the son of a fisherman existing on a slow, picturesque, Italian island. The opening shot depicts this sad eyed soul turning over a postcard from America--a land he equates with impossible dreams. Mario lives in the moment (mc concern of the present), almost in a state of arrested development--yet it is his immaturity edged with unnamed longings that charms us. Mario is a do-er, but he is certainly no action figure. When faced with a problem, his approach is to irritate, making him impossible to ignore. As one of the few literate persons on the island (mc domain of universe), the accepted (os problem) way of life does not appeal to him--and with his father's tacit permission (os issue) he takes on the position of a postman with only one addressee.
Pablo Neruda, the influence character, is a Communist exiled from Chile for articulating his views (ic problem of proaction) despite the consequences (fixed state of mind). The Italian government has decided to: "Suspend measures against Neruda requested by the Chilean government" (driver of decision), and allow the poet to remain on Mario's beautiful, yet economically depressed (os counterpoint of deficiency), island.
The postman is a true romantic, entranced by how the poet and his wife ". . . call each other 'amor.'" He begins to ingratiate himself with Neruda to learn the language of poetry, using his male mental sex to strike up a rapport. Mario buys the poet's books and recites Neruda's words to evidence his seriousness. Thus, in spite of himself (ic concern of conscious), Pablo bemusedly enters into a maestro/studente relationship with his postman (rs domain of physics; concern of learning).
Mario's sudden attraction (mc issue) to the local beauty, Beatrice, accelerates his and Pablo's relationship story throughline. Mario demands of his teacher to write a poem to impress his intended (rs catalyst of preconditions), a request Pablo refuses. Undaunted, Mario plagiarizes his poetry (mc response of proaction), and wins the fair barmaid's heart, much to the fury of her aunt who has forbidden the courtship (os issue).
Pablo is mollified by Mario's words: "Poetry doesn't belong to those who write it, but by those who need it," and with the priest's permission (os issue), stands up for the postman at his wedding to Beatrice. During the celebration, Pablo and Matilde receive notice that the Chilean government has lifted the ban (os issue) and the poet decides to immediately return home, after promising Mario he will stay in touch.
Time passes with no word, and certain doubts (ic unique ability) about the friendship is what finally compels Mario to start (mc growth) to create his own poetry. He writes a song for the sea and dedicates it to Pablo Neruda. Mario is invited to read the poem at a Communist demonstration. He has matured (resolve of change) and is thrilled (judgment of good) to express his own metaphors to the world.
Years later Pablo and his wife return to the island. It has remained unchanged. Politicians have not fulfilled their promises and the inhabitants have made no protest (outcome of failure; os solution of nonacceptance). The poet learns that Mario had died in the demonstration--melancholic, he strolls the white sands along the sea and reminisces (ic benchmark) under the unrelenting sun.
That Massimo Troisi (Mario) died the day after filming lends a tragic poignancy to IL Postino. The film has a meandering feel, attributed to its vague optionlock and rather abstruse story goal. It is, however, an unusual storyform (at least at this point in time) which makes it most interesting to analyze.
About the Author
KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.
For the opera based on the film, see Il Postino (opera).
Il Postino: The Postman (Italian: Il postino) is a 1994 Italian film directed by Michael Radford and Massimo Troisi. The film was originally released in the US as The Postman, a straight translation of the Italian title.
The film tells a fictional story in which the real life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda forms a relationship with a simple postman who learns to love poetry. It stars Philippe Noiret, Massimo Troisi, and Maria Grazia Cucinotta. The screenplay was adapted by Anna Pavignano, Michael Radford, Furio Scarpelli, Giacomo Scarpelli, and Massimo Troisi from the novel Ardiente paciencia by Antonio Skármeta. In 1983, Skármeta himself wrote and directed the film Ardiente paciencia (English translation: "Burning Patience"), which he later adapted to the novel of the same name in 1985.
Writer/star Massimo Troisi postponed heart surgery so that he could complete the film. The day after filming was completed, he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Set in the year 1950, Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, is exiled to a small island in Italy for political reasons. His wife accompanies him. On the island, a local, Mario Ruoppolo, is dissatisfied with being a fisherman, like his father. Mario looks for other work and is hired as a temporary postman, with Neruda as his only customer. He uses his bicycle to hand deliver Neruda's mail (the island has no cars). Though poorly educated, the postman eventually befriends Neruda and becomes further influenced by Neruda's political views and poetry.
Meanwhile, Mario falls in love with a beautiful young lady, Beatrice Russo, who works in her aunt's village cafe. He is shy with her, but he enlists Neruda's help. Mario constantly asks Neruda if particular metaphors that he uses are suitable for his poems. Mario is able to better communicate with Beatrice and express his love through poetry. Despite the aunt's strong disapproval of Mario, because of his sensual poetry (which turns out to be largely stolen from Neruda), Beatrice responds favourably.
The two are married. The priest refuses to allow Mario to have Neruda as his best man because of politics; however, this is soon resolved. This was because Di Cosimo was the politician in office in the area with the Christian Democrats. At the wedding, Neruda receives the welcome news that there is no longer a Chilean warrant for his arrest so he returns to Chile.
Mario writes a letter but never gets any reply. Several months later, he receives a letter from Neruda. However, to his dismay, it is actually from his secretary, asking Mario to send Neruda's old belongings back to Chile. While there Mario comes upon an old phonograph and listens to the song he first heard when he met Neruda. Moved, he makes recordings of all the beautiful sounds on the island onto a cassette including the heartbeat of his soon-to-be-born child.
Several years later, Neruda finds Beatrice and her son, Pablito (named in honour of Neruda) in the same old inn. From her, he discovers that Mario had been killed before their son was born. Mario had been scheduled to recite a poem he had composed at a large communist gathering in Naples; the demonstration was violently broken up by the police. She gives Neruda recordings of village sounds that Mario had made for him. The film ends with Neruda walking in the beach he used to talk with Mario, showing at the same time the communist gathering in which Mario was killed.
Whereas the novel and the 1985 film were set in Chile, with Neruda living in his home at Isla Negra around 1970, Il Postino: The Postman moves the setting to Italy in about 1950. The film is set and was filmed on the island of Procida, gulf of Naples and partially on the island of Salina, of the volcanic Aeolian Island chain off the north coast of Sicily.
Corricella is the setting for some of the waterfront scenes in the movie.
Further information: Il Postino (soundtrack)
In 1994 to promote the film, Miramax published The Postman (Il Postino): Music From The Miramax Motion Picture, which besides the film's score, composed by Luis Enríquez Bacalov, includes Neruda's poems recited by many celebrities. There are a total of 31 tracks.
In 2002 CAM Original Soundtracks released a 17 track version of the score (CAM 509536-2) which was mastered in Dolby Surround.
The album won the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.
For the 2010 opera based on the film see Daniel Catan.
The film was very well received. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of the critics liked the film, based on 26 reviews. It received a score of 81 on Metacritic, indicating "Universal Acclaim", based on 13 critic reviews.
At the 68th Academy Awards (1995), Il Postino: The Postman received five nominations and one Academy Award.
In the categories for Best Actor and Best Writing, Troisi received posthumous nominations.