Il Postino: The Postman

For the opera based on the film, see Il Postino (opera).
Il Postino: The Postman

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Radford
Produced by Mario Cecchi Gori
Vittorio Cecchi Gori
Gaetano Daniele
Screenplay by Anna Pavignano
Michael Radford
Furio Scarpelli
Giacomo Scarpelli
Massimo Troisi
Based on Ardiente paciencia
by Antonio Skármeta
Music by Luis Enríquez Bacalov
Cinematography Franco Di Giacomo
Edited by Roberto Perpignani
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • 1 September 1994 (1994-09-01) (VFF)
  • 22 September 1994 (1994-09-22) (Italy)
  • 16 June 1995 (1995-06-16) (USA)
Running time
108 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian
Budget $3 million[1]
Box office $21,848,932[2]

Il Postino: The Postman (Italian: Il postino) is a 1994 Italian film directed by Michael Radford. The film was originally released in the US as The Postman, a straight translation of the Italian title.[3][4] However, since the release of Kevin Costner's post-apocalyptic film of the same name, the film has gone by the title Il Postino: The Postman.

The film tells a fictional story in which the real life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda forms a relationship with a simple postman who learns to love poetry. It stars Philippe Noiret, Massimo Troisi, and Maria Grazia Cucinotta. The screenplay was adapted by Anna Pavignano, Michael Radford, Furio Scarpelli, Giacomo Scarpelli, and Massimo Troisi from the novel Ardiente paciencia by Antonio Skármeta. In 1983, Skármeta himself wrote and directed the film Ardiente paciencia (English translation: "Burning Patience"), which he later adapted to the novel of the same name in 1985.

Writer/star Massimo Troisi postponed heart surgery so that he could complete the film. The day after filming was completed, he suffered a fatal heart attack.[5]


Set in the year 1950, Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, is exiled to a small island in Italy for political reasons. His wife accompanies him. On the island, a local, Mario Ruoppolo, is dissatisfied with being a fisherman, like his father. Mario looks for other work and is hired as a temporary postman, with Neruda as his only customer. He uses his bicycle to hand deliver Neruda's mail (the island has no cars). Though poorly educated, the postman eventually befriends Neruda and becomes further influenced by Neruda's political views and poetry.

Meanwhile, Mario falls in love with a beautiful young lady, Beatrice Russo, who works in her aunt's village cafe. He is shy with her, but he enlists Neruda's help. Mario constantly asks Neruda if particular metaphors that he uses are suitable for his poems. Mario is able to better communicate with Beatrice and express his love through poetry. Despite the aunt's strong disapproval of Mario, because of his sensual poetry (which turns out to be largely stolen from Neruda), Beatrice responds favourably.

The two are married. The priest refuses to allow Mario to have Neruda as his best man because of politics; however, this is soon resolved. This was because Di Cosimo was the politician in office in the area with the Christian Democrats. At the wedding, Neruda receives the welcome news that there is no longer a Chilean warrant for his arrest so he returns to Chile.

Mario writes a letter but never gets any reply. Several months later, he receives a letter from Neruda. However, to his dismay, it is actually from his secretary, asking Mario to send Neruda's old belongings back to Chile. While there Mario comes upon an old phonograph and listens to the song he first heard when he met Neruda. Moved, he makes recordings of all the beautiful sounds on the island onto a cassette including the heartbeat of his soon-to-be-born child.

Several years later, Neruda finds Beatrice and her son, Pablito (named in honour of Neruda) in the same old inn. From her, he discovers that Mario had been killed before their son was born. Mario had been scheduled to recite a poem he had composed at a large communist gathering in Naples; the demonstration was violently broken up by the police. She gives Neruda recordings of village sounds that Mario had made for him.



Whereas the novel and the 1985 film were set in Chile, with Neruda living in his home at Isla Negra around 1970, Il Postino: The Postman moves the setting to Italy in about 1950. The film is set and was filmed on the island of Procida, gulf of Naples and partially on the island of Salina, of the volcanic Aeolian Island chain off the north coast of Sicily.


Further information: Il Postino (soundtrack)

In 1994 to promote the film, Miramax published The Postman (Il Postino): Music From The Miramax Motion Picture, which besides the film's score, composed by Luis Enríquez Bacalov, includes Neruda's poems recited by many celebrities. There are a total of 31 tracks.

In 2002 CAM Original Soundtracks released a 17 track version of the score (CAM 509536-2) which was mastered in Dolby Surround.

The album won the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music.

For the 2010 opera based on the film see Daniel Catan.


The film was very well received. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of the critics liked the film, based on 26 reviews.[6] It received a score of 81 on Metacritic, indicating "Universal Acclaim", based on 13 critic reviews.[7]


Academy Awards

At the 68th Academy Awards (1995), Il Postino: The Postman received five nominations and one Academy Award.

In the categories for Best Actor and Best Writing, Troisi received posthumous nominations.

BAFTA Awards

See also


  1. "Il Postino: The Postman (1994) - Box office / business". IMDb.
  2. "Il Postino (1995) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. The official Academy Awards database refers to it as The Postman (Il Postino)
  4. A poster with the title The Postman is reproduced in its profile at the Internet Movie Database
  5. Laurino, Maria (11 June 1995). "FILM; A Postman, a Poet, an Actor's Farewell". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  6. Il Postino: The Postman Reviews at Rotten Tomatoes (accessed on 1 January 2014)
  7. Il Postino: The Postman Reviews at Metacritic (accessed on 24 June 2010)

External links

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