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A 1997 movie based on a book by David Brin, 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. It was not a very successful movie, tanking at the box office, derailing Kevin Costner's career and winning several Razzie Awards.


Includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Zero-Percent Approval Rating: 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.
  • After the End
  • Badass Bookworm: General Bethlehem. He then subverts it by having the books he's done with burned.
  • Blatant Lies: 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.
    • 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.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Tom Petty

 Shakespeare: I know you. You're... famous.

Tom Petty: I was once... sorta. Kinda. Not anymore.

  • Chekhov's Gun: The tattoo that recruits into Bethlehem's army are given including Shakespeare.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Colonel Getty.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The movie left out quite a bit of the plot of the book, particularly the augments and pretty much the entire conflict between the towns loyal to the Reunited States of America and the Holnists.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The Holnists appear to be this in the movie.
  • Cruel Mercy: General Bethlehem gets this at one point. Almost.
  • Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: Kevin Costner himself sings the song on the credits.
  • Evil Army: Averted. The Holnists are probably the least enthusiastic gang of rapists and plunderers in history.
  • A Father to His Men: 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).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: General Bethlehem mentions that before the war, he was a copier salesman.
  • Klingon Promotion: 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). This becomes important later on.
  • Known Only By Their Nickname: Along with Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": 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 William Shakespeare (more or less) until the events at the beginning of the movie. For most of the rest of the movie, he is addressed as The Postman.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: There really wasn't any way that a movie made in The Nineties 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, David Brin liked the movie.
  • Star-Derailing Role: Kevin Costner barely recovered from it.
  • Viewers are Morons: Apparently, KC didn't think the audience would get that the Postman was lying about the USA unless he gave the most unconvincing performance imaginable.
  • You Have Failed Me: General Bethlehem does it to one member of a conscript batch, to scare the rest into total, strict obedience.
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