Il Postino (The Postman) by Michael Radford

The Postman (Il Postino) (Le Facteur)- a film by Michael Radford based on a novel by Antonio Skarmeta

This is a bitter-sweet and human story about a postman, Mario Ruoppolo, on an Italian island who forms a lasting friendship with the Chilean communist and poet Pablo Neruda.

Meanwhile an economic struggle led to the migration of many poorly educated peasants to work in the factories and construction sites of rich countries like Australia.

One scene from the film shows how Neruda (Phillipe Noiret) teaches Mario (Massimo Troisi), the son of a fisherman, the meaning of the word ‘metaphor’. Mario says that Neruda’s poem about the sea made him feel ‘like a boat being tossed on the sea’. Noiret gives a great performance as the poet Neruda in this film. The background to the story was that in 1945 Pablo Neruda was elected Senator in Chile. He was exiled during Gabriel González Videla´s government. In 1949 he went into exile with his wife, the painter Delia del Carril. In Mexico he suffered from phlebitis and a woman from Chillán arrived to his bedside, she was Matilde Urrutia, to help him and take care of the house. A secret romance was born between them.

Cloaked in romanticism, the film Il Postino depicts the poverty and lack of education in southern Italy in 1953. It shows the warmth and companionship in a period of socialist struggle. The capitalist parties of Europe like the Christian Democrats were in the ascendancy. Neruda and Matilde later went to Capri where the film “Il Postino” is set.

Ian Curr,
30 Nov 2007


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