Germany | 76 MINUTES
There is only one postman in Isla Negra, and his simple life takes a quixotic turn when Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet and diplomat, moves to the remote town. Old and exiled, the great poet's only frequent visitor is the postman. After several months of delivering the mail and exchanging plaisanteries, the fresh-faced postman begs the reclusive poet to write a poem that will seduce island temptress Beatriz. Neruda reluctantly agrees, and so begins a lifelong friendship worthy of Cervantes. "In Chile, everyone is a poet," Neruda remarks. "It is much more original to be a postman." After watching Ardiente Paciencia (Burning Patience) and experiencing the postman's naïve eloquence, one is inclined to agree. While poetry and love are clearly the film's focal points, Chile's troubled history also figures into the story. The assassination of President Salvador Allende and the imposition of General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship eventually take a toll on Neruda's health, in real life and in the movie. Chilean writer/director Antonio Skármeta is himself no stranger to political isolation. During the Pinochet regime, Skármeta was exiled to Germany. There he wrote the novella El Cartero de Neruda, on which his own film Ardiente Paciencia and the Academy Award®-winning film Il Postino (1994) were both based. Given the runaway success of the latter, it would be easy to call Ardiente Paciencia a poor-man's Il Postino, but that would hardly do Skármeta's film justice. Unlike its later Italian remake, this version-originally shot on 16 mm-of Skármeta's own novella brings a color and authenticity to the screen that Il Postino never quite achieved.