Saturday, 7 May 2011

Il Postino - The Postman

1994 by Michael Radford

Mario Rouppolo is a very innocent man who doesnt want to be a fisherman like his father. In the movie house, through a news reel, he sees poet Pablo Neruda arriving in Italy. Neruda has to live in exile for some time. The village post master is looking for an extra post man to personally deliver all the post for Neruda. Mario takes this job. He can read and write hardly. The only thing he knows about Neruda is that many women are attracted to him because of poetry. Initially he cannot even talk to Neruda, but slowly they start talking and Mario gets very much interested in poetry and communism. When Mario is attracted to a beautiful girl, Beatrice, Neruda helps him. When they get married, Neruda is his first man. The Govt. of Chile has revoked the arrest warrant of Neruda, who asks Mario to take care of the house and his belongings and leave the village. Mario expects some news from Neruda but there is nothing. He is still not disappointed and explains to others that is normal. After few years Neruda walks into the village and meets Beatrice and the boy of Mario, Pablito, named after Pablo Neruda. He learns that, Mario attended a communist rally which turned violent and was killed few days before the birth of his son.

If by anyways a movie can be called a poem or gets as close to poetry, Il Postino is poetry in celluloid. I have heard so many people boasting similar things about many movies, but I never thought the same. Watching Il Postino, by the time the friendship between Mario and Neruda develops and strengthens, I was feeling a special bliss of happiness and by the end, I said to myself, this is poetry in a movie.

There is friendship between two souls from two ends of life's spectrum, there is love, there is sadness and above all there is a great human being, may be the most innocent male character I have ever met through the medium of cinema. From his very first dialogues, we know that this man is really innocent and as he starts his work we set on a kind of journey with Mario. We are more desperate than Mario, may be, for the poet to open up and chat with him. We feel his curiosity, his excitement and his hunger to understand and learn more and more about poetry. We are filled with joy as he really makes friendship with Neruda and when Neruda leaves to Chile, we miss the poet as much as Mario. We too would start thinking about excuses for the poet to not contact Mario or for him to not mention about Mario in his interviews. And finally we are grief stricken to know the fate of Mario. The last shot when Neruda stands on the beach thinking about Mario, wonderfully passes his grief to the viewer.

There is not a single scene or shot in this movie, which we would say was unnecessary or anything like that. The scenes between Mario and Neruda, where Mario gets curious about different aspects of poetry, how he is introduced to metaphors and how he himself discovers metaphors, they are all so brilliant and lovely that we feel kind of joy, that we get very seldom, watching a movie. Each and every moment between Mario and Neruda are more than beautiful.

The scenes and dialogues between Mario and Neruda, takes this movie to a different level which makes us feel that this is no ordinary movie, but poetic. They are brilliant. Of course, it is the innocence of Mario which makes these scenes poetical and joyful but they are beautifully brilliant. His innocence offers us a lot of joy, but few moments were simply lovely.

- Mario tells Neruda about Beatrice and says he could say only 5 words to her. 'What's your name?' - Neruda says, that makes only 3 words? Mario - 'she replied Beatrice Russo and I repeated Beatrice Russo'

- Neruda asks Mario to speak to the radio - for his friends in Chile - about the most wonderful aspect about his village, and Mario  says 'Beatrice Russo'

- Earlier in a scene Mario wishes Neruda would receive the Noble prize. Later, when he wants Neruda to write him a poem about Beatrice and Neruda refuses, he curses that if Neruda cannot write a poem about Beatrice then he will never get the Noble prize.

I am sure, I am not expressing it nicely, but as we watch the movie, these moments are so so beautiful. It is a pity I am not a writer to explain my feelings in detail. Also the recordings Mario makes, for sending to Neruda, was exceptionally beautiful.

Massimo Troisi as Mario is living a life on the screen. This is not an easy character, but he lives the life of Mario and may I say, this is among the very best performances for me. It is quite difficult to play such an innocent role. Philippe Noiret as Neruda and Maria Gracia as Beatrice are the two other major characters.

Yet another film which is perfect to explain what the role of the cinematographer is, in making a beautiful movie. Another major highlight of the movie is its background score. Simply beautiful.

It is surprising that this movie was not directed by an Italian, but by an English man. That requires the man to be some genius of the medium. Brilliant work of art.

Il Postino is a once in a life time movie, a real poetry in motion.