Postmen in the Mountains (1999)

Unrated   |    |  Drama

Postmen in the Mountains (1999) Poster

A father, a retiring mailman, walks his son over his job in the mountainous regions of Hunan province.


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10 February 2002 | wirestone
Less is often more. A lot more in this case.
The story is simple. Only it is not. A son is taking over the postman job of his father, who is forced to retirement due to arthritis. And on his first day of job, the father walks along to show him the rope (literally). The job is simple, they walk uphill 80 kilometers a day for two days, and back down 80 kilometers on the third day, dropping off and picking up mails in the villages along the way. Yet the job is not that simple at all, the postman's job involves a lot more than just simply delivering mail, he also need to know the relationships amoung the villagers by heart. The story revolves around the relationship between the father and son. It is not a rebellion relationship typically seen in western movies, the son already appreciates the sacrifice his father has to make, considering the father is one of the only few literates in the area, yet he spents almost 30 years delivering mail on foot, often away from home for months - it is a great sacrifice (there's a scene late in the film which the son tells his father what needs to be done in their own village, and you realize that the father has been away from home for so long that he knows little about it). But this time, the son truely experiences and understands the difficulty of the job. The last few scenes of the film tells that even though the father may not have spend much time with his son, he could trust no one but him for the job, and you understand why his son, who could probably spent his life in the cities, takes his job at the beginning of the film.

Sometimes funny, but mostly touching, the subtle but deep bond between the father and son is very well acted.

Great cinematagraphy, well suited for the subtle tone of the film.

There are many little bits that would be lost to the westerners if translated in English. For example, the Chinese title of the film is "Those Mountains, Those People, That Dog", refering to their trusted family dog, a constant companion on the road. The name of the dog (in English dub is apparently Bingo), is "Lao Er", an often used term to descript the second son of the family. Even so, if it had a wider release in the states, I truely believe that it would win a lotta awards.

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