Love Like The Movies: Il Postino (1994)

How have movies shaped modern culture in our pursuit of love? Why have some films left such an impact that audiences go back to it across cultures and eras? Is there anything we can learn from movie love or is it the idealized dream of hopeless romantics? Before The Cyborgs will attempt to answer some of these questions in Love Like The Movies – a month-long exploration of love, romance, and film.

“When you explain poetry, it becomes banal. Better than any explanation is the experience of feelings that poetry can reveal to a nature open enough to understand it.”

Perhaps no other foreign country has had as much success in cinema then Italy and with films like Il Postino, it’s not hard to see why the Italian film industry is among the most acclaimed in the world.

Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director and Actor, and winner for Luis Bacalov’s charming score, Il Postino is indeed a romantic movie but not solely in the traditional sense of depicting love between a man and a woman. Rather its true romantic nature comes in the form of its love of literature, poetry, Mediterranean life and friendship. Combining fictional protagonists with real-life figures and events, the end result is a heartwarming, intelligent and great film.

In 1950 Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret) finds himself exiled on a small Italian island where he stands as the only person of real education amongst the poorly educated, rural minded villagers.

Enter Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi), a simple-minded postman who uses his bicycle to deliver mail to Neruda; while Neruda initially views Mario as intrusive their relationship quickly grows into a deep friendship. Although Mario has little formal schooling he has a profound love for writing and poetry and enlists Neruda’s help in writing his own works.

Soon both men’s lives are transformed through this shared love of the written word, while Mario uses his newfound talents to woo the woman he loves and express his feelings in a way he could have never before imagined.

In an example of life imitating art, lead actor Massimo Troisi fell so enamored with the script that he decided to postpone required heart surgery until the film was completed. He died a mere 12 hours after filming had wrapped.

Posthumously nominated for an Oscar, Troisi’s tragic fate makes Il Postino an even more emotional experience.

As a romantic movie there can be no doubt that Il Postino ranks very highly in the genre, but what really makes it special is that while it fits in that category it’s not tied down there. It’s a comedy, a drama, but above all a moving motion picture that contains timeless messages and themes. Even the most ignorant people (Mario and the villagers) can be transformed with love, the written word, and great friendship. For that Il Postino stands as one of the all-time great movies.

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