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Bob Alexander: Forward ... Into the Past

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The PostmanIn 1997 Kevin Costner directed and starred in The Postman, a epic post apocalyptic movie that bombed at the box office.

The film begins with this voice-over narration:

The last of the great cities died when my father was a child. Another victim of yet another war. The plagues followed. And the terrors. The living hid themselves away in tiny hamlets in hopes of surviving whatever new madness conspired to rob them of the little that remained. The Earth itself had fallen prey to chaos. For three years a dirty snow fell that even summer could not erase. The ocean was barren. Poisoned. Near death. Sixteen long years passed before the great lungs started working again. My father said it was as if the ocean breathed a great sigh of relief...

A lone wanderer, leading a mule, treks across a barren landscape. The year is 2013.

In the movie electromagnetic pulse weapons destroyed civilization’s technology and plunged everyone instantly into a pre-industrial world. Sixteen years after the wars “high tech” meant your village might have a blacksmith. And then after setting this scene the story takes over for the rest of the film’s two hours and fifty seven minutes. The Bad Guy is killed, peace begins anew, and by the time 2043 rolls around it looks like civilization as we know it is beginning to make a come back.

When The Postman first came out I didn’t think it was as terrible as the critics said it was. Periodically movie critics have a strange almost unstoppable momentum. Those who hated Waterworld and hadn’t exhausted their vitriol on that film had their poison pens at the ready for the next Kevin Costner movie regardless of what it might be. The film critic community en masse stomped the movie into oblivion but Costner committed the ultimate Hollywood sin: He spent 80 million dollars on a movie that only grossed 18 million.


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