A [[TheNineties 1997]] [[FilmOfTheBook movie based on]] [[Literature/ThePostman a book]] by DavidBrin, about a wanderer in post-apocalyptic Oregon who ends up disguising himself as a US Postman and weaving an intricate story about the US government being reformed in order to con people out of food and shelter. He rapidly progresses from merely pretending to deliver the mail to ''actually'' delivering the mail, and with the help of a young man he meets early on in his travels, ends up recreating the postal service he claimed to represent. In the process he raises the ire of the [[CrazySurvivalist Holnists]], a cult of survivalists who have recently moved in and rule the area as feudal overlords, and the Postman and his new followers quickly find himself embroiled in a war. It was not a very successful movie, tanking at the box office, derailing KevinCostner's career and winning several RazzieAwards, but it has been looked on much more favorably in recent years.
!!Includes examples of the following tropes:
* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: General Bethlehem's followers apparently hate him every bit as much as the townsfolk they oppress. Not a single one of them seems unhappy to see him gone after the one racist redneck killed early on.
* AllHailTheGreatGodMickey: Borderline. The Holnists are a survivalist cult founded on the teachings of an author of trashy self-help books, who they worship as a near-deity.
* BadassArmy: The Holnists are basically an evil, repressive, violent, destructive mob of bandits, but they're ''extremely'' well-organized and well-equipped, especially compared to the militias of the disorganized villages they extort - while one town in particular has 'five guns and twenty rounds of ammunition for the entire town', and this is implied to be a typical situation in Oregon, the Holnists have enough AR-15s to equip their entire army and a seemingly infinite amount of 5.56 ammo, in addition to machine guns, anti-aircraft cannons and at least one battery of howitzers.
** [[spoiler:While they're never explicitly shown on-screen, the military of the Republic of California is strong enough to have thoroughly kicked the Holnists' collective asses, which is why they're pushing into Oregon in the first place - the seemingly-unstoppable Holnists are ''running''.]]
* BadassBookworm: General Bethlehem. He then subverts it by having the books he's done with burned.
* BeardOfEvil: General Bethlehem.
* BecomingTheMask: The premise of the movie is basically 'man pretends to be a postman for the fictional Restored United States of America to con people out of food and shelter, in the process ends up accidentally creating the Restored United States of America and becoming a postman for it.'
* BlatantLies: All of Shakespeare's lies about the reformed United States government go unquestioned despite how obviously evasive and unconvincing he is.
** No one questions that the new President of the United States has the same real name as ''Ringo Starr''.
*** Also possibly justified since his real name isn't as well known in the US, and would be even less so fifteen years AfterTheEnd.
** Possibly justified by the fact that it's not that he's convincing, but that people just ''want'' to believe in these things that badly. Plus he almost gets ''shot'' when he starts his lies, but by the time he gets going he's delivering mail from "the next village over", making his position much more plausible.
* BloodKnight: General Bethlehem is obsessed with being able to fight a 'real war', against [[WorthyOpponent a general and an army worthy of his skill]]. When the Postal Service reorganizes itself into an army and openly opposes him, he isn't scared or angry, he's ''ecstatic''.
--> '''Holnist Scout:''' Think they're surrendering, sir?
--> '''General Bethlehem:''' God, I hope not.
* CelebritySurvivor: [[spoiler: TomPetty]]
-->'''Shakespeare''': ''I know you. You're... famous. ''
-->'''[[spoiler: [[AsHimself Tom Petty]]]]''': ''I was once... sorta. Kinda. Not anymore.''
** One of his subsequent lines imply that Costner's [[TheNameless unnamed character]], [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep known only as Shakespeare]], is Costner himself.
** [[spoiler: The birth-death dates on the Postman's monument shown at the end (1976-2049) don't match up though]].
* CharacterNameAlias: President "[[Music/TheBeatles Richard Starkey]]."
* ChekhovsGun: The brand that recruits into Bethlehem's army are given [[spoiler: including Shakespeare]].
* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler: Colonel Getty]].
** Also inverted: We know from early in the film that Ford has personally recruited many, if not all, of the mail couriers in Oregon. Near the end of the film, he is stood up next to another mail carrier who he's never seen before in his life. [[spoiler: The other mail carrier is from the Restored Republic of California, and this serves as TheReveal that Bethleham's army isn't advancing into Oregon, it's ''retreating'' from California.]]
* ChildSoldiers: Most of the Postman's courier-crew-turned-militia is pretty young. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] in that life expectancy in a PostApocalyptic world would be comparable to RealLife pre-Industrial eras, so relative age categories are adjusted accordingly ("late teens" becomes "young adult fit to fight").
* CompressedAdaptation: The movie left out quite a bit of the plot of the book, particularly the [[SuperSoldier augments]] and pretty much the entire conflict between the towns loyal to the Reunited States of America and the Holnists.
** PragmaticAdaptation: It also left out things like Reunited-aligned soldiers secretly raping the corpses of their own female soldiers to further demonize the Holnists when the bodies were discovered.
* CrazySurvivalist: The Holnists appear to be this in the movie.
* CruelMercy: General Bethlehem gets this at one point. [[spoiler: Almost.]]
* DoItYourselfThemeTune: Kevin Costner himself sings the song on the credits.
* EvilArmy: Averted. The Holnists are probably the least enthusiastic gang of plunderers and murderers in history.
* FakeUltimateHero: Kevin Costner's Postman, at first.
* AFatherToHisMen: General Bethlehem thinks he's one of these. Amusingly, it's fairly clear almost every one of his men hates him to the core but none of them want to stand up to him (assuming the other people in the army are loyal Holnists). He was just [[GenreSavvy savvy]] enough to scare everyone into strict submission during their "conscription".
** We're shown that many are forcibly conscripted (including the Postman) so it's not that surprising if most aren't there by choice and hate Bethlehem. Also probably explains their poor EvilArmy showing above.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: General Bethlehem mentions that before the war, he was a copier salesman.
* GenreSavvy: General Bethlehem is interrogating the sheriff of Pineview to learn where Shakespeare went; the sheriff tells him he went East (which is a lie), after which the general sends a search party east...and then sends three more west, north, and south, just in case the sheriff is lying.
* HellBentForLeather: The Holnists.
* HiddenDepths: The Holnist troops would rather watch an old musical film than a gung-ho action film.
* HypercompetentSidekick: Ford is the real brains behind the postal service. After leaving Pineview, he sets up an extensive network between towns.
* IWillPunishYourFriendForYourFailure: As punishment for housing the Postman, General Bethlehem lays waste to an entire town with his oversized artillery.
-->'''General Bethlehem:''' These people made it through the bugs and the riots and the three year winter. But they're not going to survive you.
* KlingonPromotion: Members of Bethelehem's army are allowed to challenge him in one-on-one combat for his position. (The last man who did got his tongue and balls cut off). [[ChekhovsGun This becomes important later on.]]
* KnownOnlyByTheirNickname: Along with EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The main character is called "Shakespeare" when anyone wants to call him by a particular name, because he made a living traveling from place to place performing the works of Creator/WilliamShakespeare ([[PragmaticAdaptation more or less]]) until the events at the beginning of the movie. For most of the rest of the movie, he is addressed as [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Postman]].
* HonorBeforeReason: A DefiedTrope, Shakespeare goes out of his way to impress upon his postmen that he does not want them giving their lives to protect the mail.
-->Tell me something: how much mail can a dead Postman deliver?
* OurFounder: Costner's bronze statute in the epilogue. Gene Siskel snarkily dubbed the film ''[[DancesWithWolves Dances With Himself]]''.
* ParanoiaGambit: In a stare-down with Bethlehem, the Postman claims the U.S Government has moved into Vikings Stadium and has sent reinforcements.
* PlotArmor: The Postman and Ford have a peculiar immunity to the Holnists' bullets.
** In case of the Postman, it's [[PlayingWithATrope played with]] - when he saves Abby, he [[spoiler: takes a bullet]] in the process. [[spoiler: For next half a year he stays with her in cabin, recovering from his wound]], marking the point when RomanticPlotTumor becomes real issue.
* PragmaticAdaptation: There really wasn't any way that a movie made in TheNineties was going to do a very good job trying to deal with everything that happens in the book, so the movie took the core concept of the story and ran with it. For what it is worth, [[http://www.davidbrin.com/postmanmovie.htm David Brin]] [[WordOfGod liked the movie.]]
* PragmaticVillainy: After TheReveal, Bethleham realizes that nothing will be gained from Ford's execution, and [[LastMinuteReprieve calls it off]].
* RealityEnsues: The Postman survives being shot in the torso by a Holnist with an AR-15...and, without access to modern medicine, spends ''five months'' recovering from the bullet wound.
* TheReveal: The Postman's army [[spoiler: isn't the only one fighting against Bethleham.]]
** OhCrap: Bethlehem's reaction on learning this.
-->'''Bethlehem:''' Wait a minute...''you two don't know each other?!''
* SeparatedByACommonLanguage: Sort of--while the term "postman" is sometimes used in the United States, the more common word is "mailman". But "The Mailman" sounds dopey as the title to a dramatic film.
* StarDerailingRole: KevinCostner barely recovered from it.
* TokenMinority: Ford.
* UnstoppableMailman: What the protagonist [[BecomingThemask becomes]], and what his apprentices [[BadassBoast vow to be]]. Considering they deliver mail in a PostApocalyptic world, there's not much arguing with this one.
* VehicularThemeNaming: Ford Lincoln Mercury.
* WhamLine: When Ford and another captured mail carrier are about to be executed:
-->'''Ford:''' Who are you?
-->'''Carrier:''' Name's Clark. Postal Carrier of the [[spoiler: restored Republic of California]]. Who are you?
* YouHaveFailedMe: General Bethlehem does it to one member of a conscript batch, to scare the rest into total, strict obedience. It's lampshaded to be his ''standard'' procedure, as there is always one chair less than men to sit on them, so there will be always one man to be executed for not following order to sit.
* YouMakeMeSic: "You spelled 'tyranny' wrong."