Film of the Day: IL POSTINO (1994)

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POETRY DOESN’T BELONG TO THOSE WHO WRITE IT;

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IT BELONGS TO THOSE WHO NEED IT.

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YOUR SMILE SPREADS LIKE A BUTTERFLY.

Il-Postino-The-Postman-foreign-movies-17718604-1067-800

Il-Postino-The-Postman-foreign-movies-17721591-1067-800The whole poem, read by an automated voice,  as found on poemhunter.com – a great service. But, also, how no romantic poem should ever sound. Unless the poem is written by a surrealist comedian. Perhaps Spike Milligan.

Il-Postino-The-Postman-foreign-movies-17719203-1067-800Philippe Noiret plays the iconic Chilean poet, “loved by women”, Pablo Neruda, who arrives in exile on a small Italian island and forms an unlikely friendship with local postman, Mario Ruoppolo, played by the late comic actor Massimo Troisi. Mario is a t bit at a loss in life; lonely and dissatisfied with the idea of following in his father’s footsteps as a fisherman, he sees in Neruda someone who can teach him how to better express his innermost feelings; how to develop a better relationship with the world around him and, ultimately, how to woo the woman he loves. Neruda, in turn, enjoys watching Mario bloom and appreciates his simple approach to life, but takes their friendship very much in his stride, something he perhaps regrets by the end of the film.

Il Postino is a beautiful little film – a fictional account of the mark left by a great poet on the life of a villager, and the mark the villager left on his in turn. Massimo Troisi died of a heart attack the day after principal filming was completed adding extra poignancy, in particular, to the final scenes. a

Allegedly, he put off heart surgery in order to suit the film schedule. He was so weak during filming that he was only able to shoot for an hour or so a day, so most of his scenes were delivered in just a couple of takes at most, which makes his performance all the more remarkable. His performance is so understated, so nuanced – truly one of the all-time great screen performances – and one that earned him a posthumous Oscar nomination. Apparently, the film was so popular in New York, that cinemas screened it for two years running.

The film is directed by an Englishman, Michael Radford – a fact I always found extraordinary, as so much of the humour seems so totally Italian and so subtle its hard to imagine it being captured by anyone other than a native. Radford also directed 1984 (1984) and White Mischief (1987). His latest film, Elsa & Fred, starring Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine, is due for release later this year.

THE POSTMAN

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posted by Dixie Turner

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