Postman, The: Expedited Edition
The original POSTMAN is a sentimental, lyrical, optimistic post-apocolyptic epic adventure about the power of love, hope and patriotism.
What’s not to love?
But in 1997 no one was interested in an OPTIMISTIC post-apocaliptic adventure movie. Audiences and critics widely panned the movie.
One critic called it “Mad Max if directed by Frank Capra”. I am pretty certain the critic meant the comparision as an insult,
but I take it as wonderful compliment.
Capra movies are inspiring patriotic tales of the common man rising up and triumphing over corruption and the more powerful.
And at it’s core, so is the The Postman.
It is a movie about HOPE.
It is NOT a movie for cynics or pessimists.
So with this edit, I have embraced the Capra-corn elements of unashamed patriotism, while adding an element of mystery by removing all scenes and/or dialogue that reveal the Postman’s true identity or history.
Hopefully, by using this approach, you the viewer, will find the movie more engaging and entertaining.
So leave your jaded world-weary attitudes at the door,
sit down with your popcorn and let your inner patriot out,
because HOPE RIDES AGAIN!
Remember, Not even an Apocalypse can stop the Mail!
—Crafted a new prologue/opening credits.
—Recut the Shelter in the Storm scene, so he no longer discovers the mail bag or uniform.
Now it appears he is just taking shelter and drying out his uniform and mail.
—Lots of little cuts/trims while in Pine View in attempts to make it less clear his true identity or motivies.
—Cut the Sheriff scene of accusing him of being drifter who just found a bag of mail
—recut the after dance scene so it no longer looks like he trying to run away, but instead purposely looking for the local Post Office, thus seeding the idea he may actually be what he says he is…
—a few trims during the Benning, Oregon scenes….
–regarding the price of a stamp
– Bethleham kicking over a barrel while under attack
–Abby blugeoning a Holnist to death
—a few trims during the Mountain Cabin scenes
–Abby discovery of the Postman’s identity and confrontation have been reworked to keep it more of a mystery for the audience,
clearly Abby knows something and it is making her hostile towards the Postman but she never openly says anything
—cut the whole Scott Baristow spy subplot, now he is just another young person inspired by the Postman
—cut the Postman confessing who he really is to Abby
—cut Ford and Bethleham scenes, so now it is more of surprise when Ford appears at the end and leaves what tortures Bethleham may have inflicted on Ford to the audience’s imagination
—cut the whole cliche Hollywood ending of the defeated Badguy suddenly rising up and then getting shot by another character.
Seen it a million times and it defeats the whole final message of starting over and “live and let live”
This was perceived as another bloated misfire for Kevin Costner after Waterworld, but I always had a soft spot for both. I was very eager to see if BionicBob's edit could trim this movie to reveal the gems at it's core, and WOW does it succeed.
Bob's cuts come fast and aggressive, losing basically 1/3 of the movie! It's like cutting off gangrenous legs to save the body. His emergency operation reveals this film can ride cross-country just fine. The 2 hour result is not a perfect film, but it's highly-enjoyable, with the focus drawn to a few relevant characters, and the themes limited to be not only clear and compelling, but incredibly relevant today.
What emerges is a story of a group of people who view a unified government as a threat and destroy it. This group is filled with older, bearded, white men who view their positions of power as justified "survival of the fittest", and an inherent right to 'take what belongs to them'. This includes property, resources, sexual access to women. Their leader is a tyrant who throws tantrums at the slightest disagreement or opposition to him. He's a misogynist who blames women for his own sexual inadequacies, but he recognizes the power of communication. His goal in the film is to prevent people from being able to communicate effectively with each other, keeping them fragmented and afraid and without hope in a better future. In that state, they're powerless to rise up against him.
The Postman (we never find out his real name) rises up at first as a symbolic opposition to this. He just wants people to be able to communicate with their friends and family. But in the process of restoring communication, he lets people believe things can heal, the country can unify, and gives them hope in a better future. [SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM AT ALL] He inspires others, mostly young people, including many women and people of color, to believe that they too can make a difference and that there is a role for them in a new, modern society. But not only does he oppose the bad guy symbolically, he eventually needs to physically stand up and unite people to fight back. I was never in doubt that he had started as just a desperate liar (cobwebs on his hat and his initial answers to questions implied it clearly), but that makes it even more inspiring that a person who's made bad choices can turn things around and fight on the right side.
This film is great in that it is overwhelmingly one of hope and inspiration, but it doesn't shy away from the reality and negative aspects of such a fight. When The Postman at one point doesn't want to fight because he doesn't want people to get hurt, the great character Ford Lincoln Mercury (ha!) tells him "People aren't going to get hurt because of you. They'll get hurt because of him, and because it's a shitty world, and people get hurt. But it doesn't change what we have to do." This realistic commitment to push through and fight for what's right against oppressors in some way doubles down on the hopeful message of the film, because it serves to balance the film's occasional forays into outright corniness. [END SPOILERS]
There are still a few cheesy moments, but they are vastly trimmed away from what I remember of the original cut. The more elaborate sequences are trimmed into effective montages, and the story moves along at a fairly quick pace that never feels too rushed or slow in any one section. Some of these edits feature some pretty fast cross-fades, but that might be a weakness of what scenes there were to work with, and is not a huge problem. Only one montage was an issue for me, and it was an audio sequence (towards the end, during The Postman's cable ride) where many clips are played in succession without any context. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to get out of that, and what it meant The Postman was thinking/deciding/realizing. The beginning storycard sequence may seem to skip over a whole movie for some people, but I was okay with starting that way...it actually piqued my interest for what was to come. The only other issue I'd mention is the video... the copy I have is definitely not crisp, particularly for the file size. Not quite up to DVD quality, but still very watchable.
All in all, BionicBob's edit is a near miracle. It took a film I was almost ashamed to like and made it one that I found to be prescient and moving, one I will happily recommend others to watch. It's one of the best fan-fixes I've seen, by far.
April 21, 2011 @ 11:56 pm
Video 10/10. Audio 10/10. Editing 10/10.
I love the theatrical release and I was really looking forward to seeing this fanedited version. Overall, I was not disappointed with it and in future, would probably watch the fanedit before I watched the theatrical. That said, the opening sequence, while expertly conceived and edited, did instantly make me feel like I was watching a fanedit. However, as soon as this is out of the way, the story sucked me back in and it plays out brilliantly and if I had never seen the theatrical, I would never have believed that everything after the intro was a fanedit. It’s superbly done! Also, I much, much, prefer the new ending and that’s probably the main reason I would watch this instead of the theatrical.
I watched this on my computers 19″ LCD monitor, with the audio coming through some cheap PC speakers. I had the sound turned way up and noticed no glitches in either video or audio. I have to give this a high score because I enjoyed it so much. Great edit!
The Postman: Expedited Edition = 9/10.
April 24, 2011 @ 10:12 pm
The Picture quality of this release is on par with the original DVD presentation. No discernible loss of picture fidelity throughout.
The audio presentation of this film is, likewise, on par with the original DVD. No noticeable pops or hard cuts in the audio track during the edit.
This edit is fairly successful in realizing the editors intent. The film is much more streamlined and focused than its meandering original. The story does not suffer from the cuts made while the emotional content is greatly enhanced by this new focus. The original film had a number of threads and themes it was working with, and it can be argued that because of this it never truly delivered powerfully on any of them. By focussing in on the core of the story, Bob has created a version of the film that will connect with the audience in a much more profound and emotional way.
That said, there are one or two places in this edit where too much information may have been excised. The final confrontation between the Postman and the leader of the Holnists will likely leave some audience members scratching their heads as the characters make references to things the audience never saw. I imagine this won’t be a major hurdle however and most people will merely assume the characters to be referencing a shared history that we are not and don’t have to be privy too. Lastly, the ambiguous nature of the postman is never resolved, and while this won’t bother most viewers, it doesn work against one of the central themes of the film on both versions, the exploration of the “noble” lie. Much of that still remains in the film with Ford Lincoln Mercury amd in the final confrontation when the Postman declares to Bethlehem that they are both frauds.
In the opening title cards there’s a typo: Goverment instead of Government.
I noticed from Bridgetown through the end of the film that the lip synch seemed to go off. I found it especially noticeable when Tom Petty was about to send the Postman across the damn on that basket zip line thing. I tested the disc on 2 different PS3s, my computer drive and a standard DVD player and found this issue on all of them.
A highly enjoyable edit I would happily reccommend to anyone.
April 25, 2011 @ 8:00 pm
I remember quite vividly the outpour of negativity which was lauded against Kevin Costner’s epic adaptation of David Brin’s novel, The Postman. It seemed that after the huge success of movies like Dances With Wolves, JFK, The Bodyguard, A Perfect World and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, the media at large were just waiting for Costner to fall from grace. The much touted production problems of Waterworld in 1995 started the ball rolling, and two years later nearly everyone seemed to rub their hands together with glee when The Postman cemented the opinion that he had lost the plot and produced an overblown project of vanity which many would consider to be the worst film of that decade.
By the time I managed to catch up with the film, about a couple of years later, I came to the conclusion that the criticism was deserved and yet at the same time wasn’t. The film certainly had problems. The first half of the 3 hour epic was somewhat ponderous, slowly setting up the story at large and in particular painting Costner’s character as far too much of a con man for my liking. Sure, Dances With Wolves was a slow burner of a movie, but it had more focus in its direction then Costner shows here. However, amongst this was a movie with a good natured message about a hero who stood as a symbol of hope and patriotism during a time when pessimism ruled – not only in the time when the movie was set, but during the time it was released too. Ultimately, this was far from the worst film of the decade, but yes it certainly could have been a whole lot better.
When BionicBob somewhat sheepishly released his fanedit, entitled The Postman: The Expedited Edition, I was very intrigued to see what he had come up with; particularly when I read his cutlist. The first thing which grabbed me straight away was the intention to make Costner’s Postman character far more of a mysterious figure; the second was excising almost the first hour of the movie. Both of which made me very eager to see the edit.
Bob begins the edit with a summary of what’s gone before, relayed to us by onscreen captions and images, which tell of how social collapse around the world and nuclear war has more or less left society on its knees. It also briefly introduces the neo-fascist group known as The Holnists, led by a wonderfully stary eyed Will Patton, and then we pick up Costner as he seeks shelter from the rain for the night and then turns up at a settlement the next morning claiming to to be a Postman from the reformed Government of the United States of America. A perfect way to start for me, and already it creates far more mystery as to the authenticity of The Postman’s claims and the actions he takes thereafter.
Throughout the edit Bob neatly keeps things moving at a far brisker pace than the theatrical cut, but never at the expense of key scenes which help build character or enhance the story. It wasn’t long before I was already half way through the edit and thought how quickly it had breezed past. By concentrating on the central theme to do with the hope and purpose which The Postman brings to numerous communities, the film takes on a far more focused and powerful meaning. Strengthening this further is the decision to leave it far more open to the viewer’s discretion in relation to Costner’s character – in what motivates him, to whether he is a real Postman or just some kind of con man. Less is more indeed.
Technically, on the whole this is a top notch effort. The picture quality is more or less every bit as good as the official DVD release, and the audio levels are all fine. Only towards the end did I notice a problem where the lip synching seemed to be slightly out of time, which is a shame as otherwise this is a near flawless technical edit. So, video would be 10/10, audio 8/10.
So, as a fanedit this is up there with the best of them. It’s definitely the version of The Postman that I wanted to see when it was first released and truth be told, I now have no need to watch the theatrical version again. Bob deserves huge praise for turning a frustratingly inconsistent movie into one which I would now quite happily recommend to anyone. The Postman does indeed ride again
Overall, I would give this a final score of 9/10. Well done Bob.