Review: Il Postino (The Postman) in a brand new restored dual edition release
Il Postino (The Postman) enjoyed all the accolades on its release very nearly a quarter of a century ago. But it was a release, in some ways, overshadowed by the death, within hours of completing the film, of its star Massimo Troisi, an actor who delayed vital heart surgery in order to make the movie.
There were tales of how he could work barely an hour a day; tales of liberal use of a body double to limit his workload – tales of a clearly-immensely talented actor dead at the age of 41. Tales which all added to the poignancy of an already poignant film.
Which is why it comes as such a welcome pleasure to revisit it now all these years later and perhaps view the film entirely on its own merits, devoid of all the sadness that happened around it.
The result is a sense of rediscovery, perhaps even discovery for the first time – a genuine gem of a film invested with very real and human charms, with gentleness and with goodness: the story of a simple, indeed simpleton, postman who falls under the spell of exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda on a tiny Italian island.
Shy, diffident, poorly educated, the postman (Troisi) finds himself drawn to Neruda (Philippe Noiret), drawn to a dim inkling of the power that poetry can hold and wanting just a little of it for himself. There is something so sweet in the way he turns over the word “metaphor”.
When he falls in love with the island beauty Beatrice Russo (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), he becomes keener than ever than harness the magic of verse… and Neruda responds, at furst grumpily and then with compassion before the film develops an intriguing ambiguity when Neruda’s exile ends: the great returns home and seemingly forgets, leaving the postman clinging to his own loyalty to Neruda.
Troisi, so hesitant but so endearing and so honest, gives a beautiful performance in Michael Radford’s masterpiece, one helped at every turn by its stunning Italian backdrop.
Now the film has been delivered as a restored Dual Edition, including a Blu-ray and DVD version on October 15 2018 thanks to CultFilms, which recently screened to a packed auditorium at the Regent Street Cinema with an exclusive Q & A with Radford.
The film became one of the highest-earning foreign films, and the second highest grossing foreign film of its decade in the USA, earning $22 million on its US theatrical release alone – more than double that of Cinema Paradiso.
Title: Il Postino aka The Postman Release date: 15 October 2018
Format: Dual-Format (Blu-ray & DVD) & exclusive slip-case Cat no: CULT502
Running time: 115 min RRP: £17.99 (tbc)
Special features: A new, exclusive, candid interview with director Michael Radford