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Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, is exiled to a small island for political reasons. On the island, the unemployed son of a poor fisherman is hired as an extra postman due to the huge increase in mail that this causes. Il Postino is to hand-deliver the celebrity's mail to him. Though poorly educated, the postman learns to love poetry and eventually befriends Neruda. Struggling to grow and express himself more fully, he suddenly falls in love and needs Neruda's help and guidance more than ever. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Michael Radford, an English director, ought to be given credit for bringing this beautiful story to the screen. It speaks volumes that Mr. Radford achieves a triumph with a film that for all practical purposes should have been directed by an Italian. This 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 is a simple one. Mario Ruoppolo, a poor man without a job, suddenly applies for a vacant position that will pay almost nothing, but by becoming a letter carrier he gets the chance of meeting a man that will make a deep impression on him and who will change his life completely.
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.
Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, finds a rustic home in the island. He is the most famous person ever to set foot in there. 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.
The film's mood changes right after Pablo Neruda and his wife receive assurances they can go back to their native land. This leaves Mario in a sad state, but now that he is married, he has other responsibilities to live for. Neruda had awakened in Mario a desire to speak for himself and to seek justice.
This is a film totally dominated by the late Italian actor Massimo Troisi, who as Mario, completely captures us by just being a simple soul with no malice. Mr. Troisi is splendid in his take of this poor man who discovers beauty and poetry late in his life. Philippe Noiret, is Pablo Neruda. Mr. Noiret makes a great contribution as the man who sees beauty everywhere and translates it into poetry. Maria Grazia Cucinotta is the beautiful Beatrice, the woman who loves Mario. Renato Scarpa and Linda Moretti, play minor roles with success.
"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.
This film is an excellent way to be introduced to Pablo Neruda's poetry, even if it's only for the curiosity the film will give even a casual viewer. Thanks to Michael Radford for a poetic view of this lonely place where two people meet and are changed forever.
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