Terry Pratchett bequeathed to the world a lengthy series of novels set in a world he devised called Discworld. It’s a beautifully steampunk, Earth-like land flying majestically through the cosmos on the back of four elephants riding on a turtle’s shell. For an immensely popular series with forty one books, there have been surprisingly few video adaptations, especially professionally made films with a good budget and quality actors.
Steampunk seems to be a genre that very few filmmakers get right, though many have tried, which is unfortunate because there is so much untapped potential. Visually the genre is a little mind blowing, with high tech portrayed in a low tech way, surrounded by nineteenth century fashion and mannerisms, and often alongside magical and paranormal characters and settings. Going Postal is one of the few productions that get it right, with a great blend of well told story with a lot of cool genre stuff thrown in without fanfare.
I haven’t read the book the film is based on, but just from my viewing I’m very happy with the cast, with main character Moist von Lipwig (Richard Coyle) as a reprehensible flim flam man punished by Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance, Game of Thrones) by making him the new postmaster. Moist falls for the impeccably portrayed ice queen with a broken heart Adora Belle Dearheart (Claire Foy). For some reason I didn’t enjoy the work of corporate villain Reacher Gilt (David Suchet), who has nearly ruined the Post Office with his series of visual telegraph towers, called the Clacks. The harshly protective and hilarious golem Mr. Pump (Nicholas Farrell) is my favorite, with a great blend of naivete, deep wisdom and fierce loyalty. If you don’t love the character names in any Pratchett work there is something seriously wrong with you.
At three hours long the film is just the right length, with the plot unfolding at a good clip without being confusing. The special effects are a little hokey for most of the movie, with the exception of a memorable scene where Adora steps out in front of a galloping horse and holds out her hand for him to stop. A very nice use of a standard camera lens makes the shot really pop, and a subtle whip sound effect finishes the more-naughty-than-normal sequence. Art direction and costuming for the entire production is wonderful, giving each scene a wonderful steampunk depth. The Going Postal world is distinctive and beautifully rendered.
I have not read the Discworld books, but most people who review the film say there are large disconnects between the film and book, so you might want to either read the book or watch the show. Either way, you will be in for an odd and beautiful treat in a genre not often done well.
- Going Postal – IMDB
- Discworld.com – (Formerly PSJM Prints.)
- Discworld Emporium – Official Discworld Merchandise
- Terry Pratchett – Official Website
CFR: In Addition: I make no bones about it, I love Terry Prachett. I will mourn his passing until the day I die.* His books brought me such joy. I loved running into the bookstore to buy his latest. I have all of the Discworld books. I read them over and over again. The humor and the humanity are beautiful.
While Going Postal did not adhere to the letter of the book, it did adhere to the spirit. See it. Then go read it. Then read the rest and enjoy.
Also, Mildred: Adora stopping a horse with her voice and hand is SO Adora!!!!!
*There was a great disturbance in the Force when he left this world and all of his fans know exactly what I mean.