Il Postino (1994) – Unusuall Story of Friendship, Love and Metaphor

by Milos Itic on February 20, 2011

Watch it!

I had met, long time ago, great film Director Michael Redford in Kustendorf film Festival (Serbia) in January, some year. And he was talking about this wonderful movie. It was great experience and he was such a great company. If only Massimo Troisi been there…..

Il PostinoThis is a timeless story of friendship, poetry and love, set in a desolated island that was to be Pablo Neruda’s home in exile. The story isn’t complicated, Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) is a poor man without a job, and he suddenly applies for a vacant position for a Postman, that will pay almost nothing, but by becoming a letter carrier only to one person in the island. He gets the chance of meeting a man that will make a deep impression on him and who will change his life completely. This Man is Pablo Neruda.

Pablo Neruda is a famous metaphorical Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Neruda wrote in a variety of styles such as erotically charged love poems as in his collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was the colour of (hope).

Mario, the postman, is almost illiterate. He can read and write, with only the basic knowledge he probably picked up in the island school. He is allergic to fishing, and can’t make a living like his father, and probably most of his ancestors before him. It’s the time after WWII in which a poor Italy is still recovering from the devastation and defeat. Mario is in charge for bringing Pablo his packages and mail. An easy friendship develops between them. Like everyone else in the island, Mario is impressed by the foreigner. In trying to imitate his poet friend, Mario awakens to all the beauty around him and discovers love with the gorgeous local girl, Beatrice Russo. Mario want to be a poet, he want to write a song for BeaIl Postino 2trice, and Pablo Neruda is helping him.

This is a film totally dominated by the late Italian actor Massimo Troisi. He want to make this film so badly, even when he was very ill and doctor told him not to move from bad. After the last scene, he died immediately. Massimo Troisi was so weak that it was only possible for him to work for about an hour each day. Most of his scenes were shot in one or two takes. A shooting schedule was designed to allow the film to be shot around him. This was aided greatly by the fact his stand-in bore such a striking resemblance to Troisi. He was used for all back to camera, long/medium shots and most of the bicycle riding sequences. Director Michael Radford has said that watching the film after it was cut together even he was unable to tell the difference between the two men. Writer/co-director/star Massimo Troisi postponed heart surgery so he could complete the film. The day after filming was complete, he suffered a fatal heart attack. Among today actors its very rare case that someone have passion for film as Massimo Troisi has it for ‘The Postaman”. Nowdays, you can’t find great actor like him anymore.

Il Postino 3

“Il Postino” is helped by the magnificent cinematography of Franco di Giacomo who captures the island in all its splendor. The music score is another asset. Luis Bacalov’s tuneful background music adds another layer in this film rich texture. Michael Redford told me, that first choice for the music was Ennio Morricone , but he told him, that he don’t make background music. Movie was shot on the island near by Mediterranean sea.

Affection for words, metaphor, imagery, quotes, paraphrases,  tide and the sea, the beauty of the ocean, art love story and the friendship ….. ‘Il Postino’ is a beautiful, heartbreaking movie, funny in its simplicity and honest dialog …

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