Forgotten Films: Going Postal, (2010)
This is the 93rd in my series of Forgotten Obscure or Neglected Films
I was in Austin getting ready for the FACT Christmas party when several of us decided to watch the most recent Discworld film from Sir Terry Pratchett, based on his 2004 novel of the same name. It was a miniseries run in the UK in two 90 minutes sections. If you are not familiar with the Discworld, then you just need to stop reading this right now, go to your bookstore and find one. Some of the best in the series include GUARDS, GUARDS; HOGFATHER, TRUTH, SOUL MUSIC, THE THIEF OF TIME, THUD, WEE FREE MEN, and THE MONSTROUS REGIMENT. They are humorous, wildly satirical and as addictive as crack. You can thank me later.
The story deals with Moist von Lipwig (Richard Coyle), a con man, thief and swindler who eventually gets caught and brought to justice for his crimes. He is thrown into prison. Being ingenious, he devises a plan to escape. Using the spoon from his daily gruel he works on the mortar on a stone in his prison wall. He works hard and diligent, hiding the dust within the pallet he sleeps in. Eventually the mortar is gone and he is able to remove the stone. He starts to climb out to freedom only to see the way is not clear. There is another stone in his passage and a spoon.
Lipwig hears clapping and turns around to find the guards have quite enjoyed his escape attempt. They also inform him, he is about to be hung. Sure enough he is taken to the gallows where a noose is placed around his neck and the trapdoor is opened. He dies.
Or, so he thinks. He is awakened in the office of Lord Venitari (the wonderful Charles Dance) who has a proposition for him. He can take over the Ankh-Morpork post office system or take his chances falling down a bottomless pit. Lipwig is a practical sort and takes the job. He acquires a horse and immediately runs away. He is awakened the next morning by a golem named Mr. Pump who is his parole officer. He never eats or sleeps or tires and he always knows where Lipwig is.
So Lipwig finds himself a postmaster to the formerly defunct postal system. The post office itself is a large building filled with undelivered mail and two employees, Groat and Stanley. Groat (Andrew Sachs) is an old man while Stanley (Ian Bonar) is younger and is an avid collector of pins which is important to the plot.
They find themselves pitted against Reacher Gilt (David Suchet) who runs the clank system which has replaced the post office. Clanks are like a cross between a weaver’s loom, a telegraph and semaphore. He has acquired the clank system when the designer Mr. Dearheart had his debt called due to the Cabbage Growers Bank suffering a disastrous fraud of forged bonds, which Lipwig is very familiar with since he was the forger.
Gilt does not want the post office open. He has a monopoly and has killed the last four postmasters to keep it. He is perfectly willing to go for number 5. His quote on business: “What is the purpose of Business? To provide a Service? No! To be the only one to provide a service!”
So Lipwig must make the post office interesting and working. He begins to come up with ideas such as stamps, collectible stamps, express delivery, and more. But there is trouble. Apparently the thousands and perhaps millions of undelivered letters in the post office have a sentience and invade his dreams with scenes of how his previous frauds have affected others.
To assist him, he hires a dozen more golems from the Golem Trust Company, run by Adora Belle Dearheart who is the daughter of the clank developer, whom Lipwig has driven out of business.
He is fascinated with her, she – not so much with him. Comedies of manners ensue.
The film comes down to the war between mail and clank with some great fraud thrown in. Good will eventually triumph, he gets the girl and order (of a sort) is restored.
The cast is pretty good all the way through. There are not a large number of special effects but they are decent. Terry Pratchett makes a cameo appearance during the closing credits. There are better ways to spend three hours, but not many. Particularly if it is winter and nasty outside. The film is available through Netflix which is how I saw it. Other sources have copies too.
I hope you have a great Christmas time and I will see you next week.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.