It was filmed in north-eastern Washington (Metaline Falls), central Oregon and Tucson, Arizona, and was directed by Kevin Costner, who also stars in the film. The film co-stars Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo, Daniel Von Bargen, Tom Petty, Scott Bairstow, Roberta Maxwell and Mary Stuart Masterson.
Fleeing a neofascist army run by General Bethlehem (Will Patton), Costner's character survives a cold night by hiding in a rusted-out mail truck that he literally stumbles onto. While taking refuge in the truck, the drifter takes the bag of undelivered mail (after reading some of the letters), puts on the dead owner's postal uniform, and "the Postman" is born. Arriving at one of the settlements scattered throughout Oregon called Pineview, Costner's character attempts to save his life by pretending to have official business; that is, by assuming the identity of a postman who has been appointed by what he falsely describes as a newly restored government. While some in the settlement are skeptical, the people seem generally to want to believe, and they proceed to give the Postman more mail to deliver. General Bethlehem eventually learns of this and considers it an act of treason. Bethlehem steps up his presence by searching and attacking nearby towns, killing those who are suspected associates of the Postman.
While the Postman and Abby (Olivia Williams), a woman pregnant with his baby, hide from General Bethlehem in the woods until she comes to term, he becomes an almost mythical symbol of hope. By spring, a young man named Ford Lincoln Mercury (Larenz Tate)—inspired by the Postman's example—has organized a postal service connecting the communities of the Pacific Northwest. At first the Postman is unwilling to engage the Holnists. Mercury and some of his men however takes it upon himself to kill several Holnists and deliver the bodies into the heart of their camp. This escalates into a running conflict with skirmishes on both sides. The Postman, despite not agreeing to the initial attack seeks counsel and wisdom from one of his oldest comrades who fought in the Vietnam War. He teaches him the rudiments of guerrilla warfare tactics and the Postman uses them to good effect. The tide of war seems to be turning against the Postman though, the Holnist army are proficient survivalists, many of which are hardened veterans. The mounting casualties dismay the Postman and he orders his meager forces to disperse, arguing that the price of victory would be too great. On the move and fleeing the Postman is harried to a small mountain enclave which is run by a person the Postman half-recognizes as a formerly famous person, Tom Petty, playing himself. Seemingly trapped between the enclaves, mountains, and General Bethlehem's scouts, the enclave leader helps the Postman. Taking him up to the highest point of the enclave where a gravity-driven cable car is installed which stretches all the way down to the valley below. Putting the uncertain Postman inside the Enclave leader releases the catch.
As he descends at break-neck speed down the valley the Postman realizes that he can make a difference and take on General Bethlehem. Using King Henry V's speech prior to the Battle of Agincourt as his rallying cry the Postman manages to reform his scattered troops. The Postman leads his army against General Bethlehem's army. Now his forces are more equal to the Holnists, but lack artillery. The Postman decides to take Bethehem on in single combat, thus invoking 'rule number 7' as he was once a Holnist. He defeats Bethlehem and is saved from being shot in the back by Bethlehem's former second-in-command.
The film concludes with a scene, which is set in the year 2043, in which the Postman's daughter (Mary Stuart Masterson) attends a tribute to her father's achievements. A statue of the Postman is unveiled, as speeches proclaim the historic role that he played in helping to restore a civil society once more.
|Kevin Costner||The Postman|
|Will Patton||General Bethlehem|
|Larenz Tate||Ford Lincoln Mercury|
|Daniel von Bargen||Pineview Sheriff Briscoe|
|Tom Petty||Bridge City Mayor (future version of himself)|
|Giovanni Ribisi||Bandit 20|
|Roberta Maxwell||Irene March|
|Joe Santos||Colonel Getty|
|Ron McLarty||Old George|
|Peggy Lipton||Ellen March|
|Ryan Hurst||Eddie March|
|Annie Costner||Ponytail (as Anne Costner)|
|Ellen Geer||Pineview Woman|
|Lily Costner||Lily March|
|Joe Costner||Letter Boy|
|Greg Serano||California Carrier|
|Mary Stuart Masterson||Hope, Postman's Daughter (uncredited)|
In an interview with Metro before the movie began filming, Brin expressed his hope that The Postman have the "pro-community feel" of Field of Dreams instead of the Mad Max feel of Costner's other post-apocalyptic film Waterworld. Brin said that, unlike typical post-apocalyptic movies that satisfy "little-boy wish fantasies about running amok in a world without rules", the intended moral of The Postman is that "if we lost our civilization, we'd all come to realize how much we missed it, and would realize what a miracle it is simply to get your mail every day.