A [[TheNineties 1997]] [[TheFilmOfTheBook movie based on]] [[Literature/ThePostman a book]] by Creator/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 Creator/KevinCostner's career and winning several [[GoldenRaspberryAward Razzie Awards]], but it has been looked on much more favorably in recent years.

Not to be [[TitleConfusion title-confused]] with ''IlPostino'' (1994), another movie named "The Postman" from the 1990's.
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!!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.
* AdaptationalWimp: Holnists are barely organised, but well-armed mob - ''nothing'' like ultra-survivalist AlwaysChaoticEvil original from books. Even their evilness is considerably toned down.
* AfterTheEnd
* 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.
* AllThereInTheManual: Even if it's a very PragmaticAdaptation, the film is ''much'' more comprehensible after reading the book.
* AsLongAsThereIsOneMan: General Bethlehem fully realizes the beginning of his own doom.
-->'''Ford''': ''Who are you?''
-->'''Californian Carrier''': ''Name's Clark. Postal Carrier of the restored Republic of California. Who are you?''
-->'''Ford''': ''Postmaster Ford Lincoln Mercury.''
-->'''Californian Carrier''' (takes off his cap, shake hands): ''It's an honor, Sir.''
-->'''Bethlehem''': ''Wait a minute... wait a minute! You don't know each other? This will never be over. It'll go on except I'll be fighting a goddamn ghost.''
* AscendedExtra: Abby in the book shows up only in the first section and even in that part her role is rather small.
* 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.
* 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.
* CanonForeigner: Ford, General Bethlehem, sheriff of Pine View... the list is quite lengthy, given [[BroadStrokes the nature of the film]].
* 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. {{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.]]
* DeathByAdaptation: Poor [[spoiler: Michael]]. In the book he was very much alive and well by the end. Of course, he only appeared in the book briefly-as did Abby.
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters: The first hour involves a group of characters conscripted to join the Holinists, most of which are dead by one hour in and long forgotten by the end of the film. There isn't even a "Postman" until after this - a full hour in.
* 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.
-->"They better find him east."
** The sheriff himself. He instantly deduced that Shakespeare is a fraud who is using an old uniform to pose as a postman. He is also savvy enough to keep it to himself, so his community's morale won't fall.
* HellBentForLeather: The Holnists.
* HiddenDepths: The Holnist troops would rather watch an old musical film than a gung-ho action one. It also hints at their lack of enthusiasm for Bethlehem's acts.
* 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.
* InformedAbility: We are told that Bethlehem utterly destroyed his last challenger in five seconds of hand-to-hand combat. Bethlehem's actual unarmed fighting skills, shown at the end of the movie, are about as good as your average second-grader's. Possibly an intentional trope, as the five-second story may have been mere propaganda all along.
* 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 simply 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?
* NoodleIncident: The story has a noodley background.
** The events which brought the world to this are varied and unexplained, with events like "the war", "the rains" and "the bad mumps".[[note]]The "bad mumps" is nothing more than having them as an adult, when they are almost lethal and often render males infertile, just like in case of Abby's husband.[[/note]]
** General Bethlehem claims to have been there at [[Main/WashingtonDCInvasion "the Battle of Georgetown" and saw the White House burn]].
** In the opening sequence, the old news reports playing in the background have what is clearly missiles going off. A nuclear exchange can therefore be inferred to have happened, which explains the "three-year (i.e. nuclear) winter" and why no one goes near major cities (likely destroyed and irradiated).
* 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 the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome 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 the next half a year he stays with her in cabin, recovering from his wound]], marking the point when RomanticPlotTumor becomes a real issue.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: The Holnists, being built on a rather [[RightWingMilitiaFanatic reactionary foundation]], refuse to conscript people with African or Asian ancestry (one mixed race man gets through, but is recognized as such by a {{jerkass}} racist, who makes life hell for him).
* 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 Bethlehem.]]
** 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.
* TakeThatCritics: After his performance, "Shakespeare" is mocked by an amateur critic who, of course, turns out to be both an idiot and a failed artist, and is told that he doesn't have the right to say anything bad anyway since he didn't pay to see Costner perform.
* TokenMinority: Ford.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: Not only does it [[{{Foreshadowing}} drag on for almost 4 minutes]], but gives away every single plot element.
* TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture: The opening of this movie states on the caption that it takes place in 2013. The movie was made in 1997.
* 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."
** IronicEcho BrickJoke: The Postman told the young people printing the leaflets the same thing earlier.
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