The Postman

Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Running Time 170 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (90:43) Other Extras Cast/Crew Biographies
Production Notes
Featurette - "The Postman's CGI Route" - 11 minutes
Region 4    
Distributor Warner Brothers    
RRP $29.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 
English for the Hearing Impaired

Plot Synopsis

    The Postman is set in the year 2013, after a plague has wiped out most of the world's civilization. Kevin Costner plays a drifter who earns his keep by giving performances of Shakespeare with his trusty mule Bill for townsfolk craving for something different. The world has returned to a near anarchic state, where the strong prevail.

    He and Bill are giving a performance of Shakespeare's work in a small town when General Bethlehem (Will Patton) arrives in town with his entourage of thugs. General Bethlehem is a tyrant who rules by brutal force. He extracts supplies and recruits from the local villages with the use of violence and force. Today, General Bethlehem is looking for three conscripts. Kevin Costner is made one of these conscripts, albeit very unwillingly.

    He is not suited to army life, and manages to escape from Bethlehem's army, stumbling into an old mail delivery van in the process. He borrows the dead postman's uniform, and his mail bag, and hatches the scheme of pretending to be a postman to obtain food and drink. This scheme works rather too well in the town of Pineview, and The Postman realizes that he has brought a ray of hope to the people who get his letters. Along the way, The Postman meets Abby (Olivia Williams) who wants him to impregnate her, and Ford Lincoln Mercury (Larenz Tate) who is inspired by what The Postman represents and wants to be a postman too.

    Bethlehem arrives in Pineview and is none too impressed by what he sees. He takes Abby. Meanwhile, The Postman has arrived in the town of Benning, where he instils further hope into the people of this town, such that they defy General Bethlehem. This is a bad idea as they have no weapons. The Postman is sent to negotiate a settlement with the General but fails. In the process, however, he manages to rescue Abby, and they go into hiding for the winter.

    After the winter, The Postman and Abby strike out, and run into another postman. It turns out that Ford Lincoln Mercury has been busy organizing a postal service during the winter months. The movie then progresses to the final climactic showdown with General Bethlehem with many twists and turns along the way.

Transfer Quality


    This is an excellent video transfer that falls a whisker below a reference standard transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie was razor sharp throughout, and shadow detail was excellent.

    The colour was beautifully rendered throughout the transfer, ranging from crisp, clear earth tones to vibrant greens, reds and blues, often mixed together in the one shot. The cinematography of this movie is excellent.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent. There are a number of scenes with elements that are prone to aliasing artefacts, but these were not apparent at any time.

    There was a very minor glitch at 13:48 which was a very small burst of scattered noise minimally marring the transfer for a single frame. This is not present on the Region 1 DVD. I also noted two scenes where the upper part of the frame appeared to be tearing slightly (78:13 - 79:54 and 129:47 - 130:28). These artefacts are also present on the Region 1 DVD, so I must conclude that these were present in the original film element. There is also a glimpse of a blue bar at the bottom of the picture during a shot transition at 140:16, and a yellow bar in the same place at 142:06. Once again, these are also present on the Region 1 DVD. Finally, there are 3 very small skips in the video at 163:32, 163:38 and 163:44. Yet again, these are also all present on the Region 1 DVD. All of the artefacts are so minor that they are hardly noticeable, and could easily be missed in the blink of an eye, so they are by no means problematic.

    Film artefacts were present slightly more than I would expect for a movie of this age, including a number of significant scratches on the negative which are visible in a few spots. Whilst these artefacts are not bad at all, there are slightly more than I am used to seeing.

    This DVD is formatted as an RSDL disc. The layer change occurs at 90:43, between Chapters 24 and 25. This is as good a spot as any for a layer change and the action is only momentarily disrupted. The layer change occurs at the exact same spot in the action on the Region 1 DVD.


    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was almost always completely clear and intelligible, even during scenes with high ambient noise, though very occasionally I had to strain a little to understand what was being said.

    The music, composed by James Newton Howard, is lyrical, and varies from inspirational to foreboding to joyous. It well suits the on-screen action. Looking at the credits of the movie, I noted that Kevin Costner got to sing one of the songs.

     The surround channels were used often during the movie to create an ambient soundfield, drawing you into the movie. Occasionally, the mix was a little up front and centre, but mostly it was very enveloping. The action and effects sequences saw excellent use of the surrounds, with gunfire, music, explosions and ambience spread throughout the soundfield.

    The .1 channel was used often and with good effect, enhancing music, gunfire, and explosions.


    The theatrical trailer is present on this DVD, presented in a 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced format with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. The theatrical trailer is of excellent quality - I bought the Region 1 version of this DVD based solely on this trailer.

    An excellent 11 minute featurette entitled "The Postman's CGI Route" is the major extra. This is presented at an aspect ratio of 4:3, with some letterboxed scenes and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack which sounded mono. The featurette details the areas of the movie where CGI effects were used, showing how certain scenes were put together. This was quite interesting to watch. The only unfortunate aspect of this featurette was that it was not 16x9 enhanced, so a significant amount of aliasing is present in some of the storyboard drawings as they are panned down, which is somewhat distracting.

    The final extras on the DVD are still frames for the cast and crew biographies and still framed production notes. These are quite extensive.

    Of specific note regarding this DVD is the fact that the Region 1 DVD had exactly the same extras, so we are missing nothing with this release.


    I have now seen The Postman twice. The first time, I viewed the Region 1 DVD. I was very unimpressed with the movie the first time around. I felt it was approximately an hour too long. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed this movie far more second time around. The first time, I felt as if the movie was dragging endlessly. The second time, the three hours passed very quickly indeed, and I enjoyed it much more. The fundamental concept at the heart of the movie is intrinsically interesting and different, and the script develops this very well.

    The video quality is extremely good, and save for a few unavoidable minor artefacts, would have been considered reference quality. The RSDL break is reasonably placed.

    The audio quality is nearly perfect, with only very minor imperfections to detract from the experience.

    The extras are reasonable.

Ratings (out of 5)


Michael Demtschyna
9th December 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer