1994 Italian film, Il Postino by Daniel Catán
Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi), the mailman on an Italian island, pines from afar for a beautiful waitress. But when exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) comes to live on the island, Ruoppolo delivers Neruda's mail and picks up lessons on love, life and poetry. Noteworthy extras in this edition include director Michael Radford's commentary and a featurette about the real-life Neruda.
Based on true events, Il Postino portrays the story of a shy postman who develops a transformative friendship with the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. On a tiny island off the Italian coast in 1953, the postman has been given the job of delivering mail to the town's new resident. He is astonished by the remarkable amount of mail from women that Neruda receives, and forges a relationship with the poet to learn the secret of his unlikely power over women. Through their friendship, Neruda not only helps the shy postman capture the town's most beautiful woman, he also inspires the postman to see himself and his quiet fishing village a in lyrical way.
Nominated for five Academy awards, the film is a graceful masterpiece with beautiful performances by Philippe Noiret as Neruda and Massimo Troisi as Mario Ruoppolo, the postman. The film was Troisi's dream project, and despite his failing heart he insisted on seeing it through and ultimately died the day production wrapped.
The film is based on the book Burning Patience by Antonio Skarmeta, which takes place in the early 1970s on Isla Negra, the tiny Chilean village where Neruda lived. The story follows the growth of a young postman whose only job is to deliver mail to Neruda, paralleling the changes in his inner life with the political upheavals in Chile.
Directed by Michael Radford (1994). Rated PG.
* 1995 Academy Awards NominationsBest Picture of the Year
* Best leading role actor - Massimo Troisi
* Best Director - Michael Radford
* Best Original Score - Luis Bacalov
* Best screenplay based on previously published media - Anna Pavignano, Michael Radford, Furio Scarpelli, Giacomo Scarpelli, Massimo Troisi
The year is 1952 and the location is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea. Exiled from his homeland, the poet Pablo Neruda finds hospitality from his travels and settles down on this little island, where he meets Mario Ruoppolo. Mario is the son of a fisherman who has no intention whatsoever of following in his father's footsteps. His only alternative would be to immigrate, but that is more of a dream than reality. His meeting with the poet will drastically alter his life. He is hired as Neruda's personal mailman and from that moment on he begins to weave a web around the poet, a web of devotion, of attentions and of curiosity. Neruda's initial reaction to all this is inexistent. As time goes by he begins to soften-up and to speak with the young man and actually takes a liking to him. Neruda introduces Mario to his world of poetry. He teaches him how to feel it and how to love it, and Mario, who is a brilliant student, goes even further: first he learns how to use poetry and then he attempts to write his own poems. Both the use and writing of poetry turn out to be pathetic failures mostly because Mario's sole purpose for writing those poems was to soften the heart of Beatrice, a beautiful young woman whom Mario is in love with. Neruda and his poetry, reluctantly, play a very important role in bringing Mario and Beatrice together. The two do get married, and Neruda, the artificer of their love is their best man at their wedding. Not only do the two, Neruda and Mario, talk about poetry. They also converse, even though most of it is done by Neruda, about communism and Neruda's faith in his mission on earth. When the poet leaves, Mario decides that he too is a communist; however one without a real political awareness but with an unadulte rated faith in both the persona and the teachings of Neruda. He totally assimilates Neruda's way of thinking but not because of idealogical reasons but more simply out of love for the poet. Mario's wedding is the last act of this beautiful comedy of life played out in the presence of Neruda. The poet leaves to go back to his homeland and Mario and Beatrice go back to the tragedies of daily living. There are caring and sweet farewells, full of hope and desires to meet again but unfortunately Neruda gets swept away by the course of events at home.
Time goes by and yet no word from the poet. Mario awaits for news from the poet but his life is slipping back into the endless pit of boredom it once was. Not even a job as a restaurateur can give meaning to his life. His intense love for Beatrice is faultering and he finds himself in an intense state of melancholy. In the few and far between moments of relaxation that Mario allows himself, he wanders to Neruda's old home that once was the center of his universe and now is empty, void of everything except a few of the poets possessions.
There is his armchair, a tape recorder and a few books, all items that Mario is supposed to mail to Neruda, but where? How can he? Neruda has never written, not even a word, why such silence? Finally a much awaited letter arrives from Chile. To have and to hold it is one and all with happiness but it is short lived for when Mario opens the letter he discovers that it is not written by the poet but by his secretary who, in a very formal manner, asks that the items belonging to the poet be mailed to him at a given address. It is a very difficult moment for Mario. It is the realization and the intangible proof that he has been forgotten. Mario searches for reasons why this has happened. People around him accuse the poet of being a traitor or an opportunist but Mario can't accept that.
He does some soul searching and comes to the conclusion that the only reason why the poet didn't stay in touch with him is because he, Mario, is worthless and insignificant as a person. He has never achieved any"ng in life that could give him notoriety or Recognition. The knowledge of this creates the desire to do something new, maybe useless, but nevertheless straight from the heart, a poetic gesture done with enthusiasm. He records all the sounds of life on the island. His intention is to remind Neruda of their existence, to let him know that they are still there, alive and well. He discovers a new sense of meaning and of care for his homeland which gives him the desire to write, to create. We will never know if his poem is "poetic" but it comes from the heart, written with feeling and emotions, so much so, that someone who liked the poem invites Mario to read his "Canto a Pablo Neruda" (Song for Pablo Neruda), in front of an audience in Naples. After so many hardships, happy now to be alive, Mario begins his assent to the stage. He wants to dedicate the applauses to the poet, recording them on Neruda's recorder and then mailing all to the address received from Neruda's secretary and hopefully this time the poet will remember him.
Unfortunately, as fate would have it, a fight breaks out in front of the stage. Police charge the crowd, a shot rings out in the air maybe more than one but Mario won't know, he won't even reach the last step to the stage and will never read his final gesture of love and devotion to Neruda, his own poem. Neruda will never receive his tape-recorder nor the recording done by Mario. Years go by and Neruda decides to travel back to Italy, back to the little island that gave him hospitality and to visit the "mailman" but he won't find Mario but a little boy, Pablito, born shortly after Mario's death. Only now, with tears in her eyes, does Beatrice give the taperecorder and tapes with the sounds of the island, the waves washing ashore, the screaming of the seagulls, the church bells and at the end of the tape, the horrifying sound of nightsticks crashing against the onslought of the crowds, instead of applauses... a screaming crowd and the terrible sound of gunshots.