Going Postal was a movie that I had been looking forward to immensely. I just recently started reading Discworld novels but I got into them fast. I know, everybody will at least know one person who has recommended the Discworld novels to them at some point and most people will react to it with a "well I am not so sure I want to believe that hype" attitude, just as I did. But for some reason I did pick up one of the books in the end (so my first Discworld novel was Reaper Man and I hadn‘t experienced being so captivated by a book ever since I had read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back to back on the day it came out) and I was hooked.
Soon after I started reading the series I researched it a little bit on the internet and found out that the book that I was just reading then, Going Postal, was going to be turned into a movie! I had already watched Hogfather by The Mod and was assured that their work was pretty nice, so I was looking forward to that movie quite a lot.
I have to say, the movie did its best to satisfy my insanely high expectations of it! Sure, as with any adaption some things will be changed and some things left out entirely. But the overall feel and style of the adaption was still delightful and very entertaining.
Going Postal is about a conman, Moist von Lipwig, who gets one last chance from Ankh-Morpork‘s Patriarch Lord Vetinari to redeem himself by getting the post office back in business, much to the dismay of Reacher Gilt, the owner of the so-called Clacks-system, a Discworld-version of the telegraph or an early version of the internet. Moist von Lipwig has to deliver the accumulated mail of years and years, evade assassination attempts and team up with Adora Belle Dearheart, head of the Golem Trust, to bring back justice and good communication service to the town of Ankh-Morpork.
I don‘t know what it is, but something about these "how the ___ of Ankh-Morpork came to be" stories appeal to me very much. Going Postal was the first story like that which I read. Then there is also Making Money, which is about Moist fixing Ankh-Morpork‘s bank system and also The Truth which details the beginning of the daily paper, the Ankh-Morpork Times. All of those stories are just fun to read and I do love the occasional comment on our own very real world that you will find within them.
But back to the film at hand, the adaption of Going Postal! Period-wise it is set somewhere in a Discworld-pendant of the 1880s (Pterry himself has stated in featurettes that his inspiration for the book was the old Victorian mail system), so the costumes are really pretty and the colour theme of the entire movie is beautiful to behold. Brownish, muddy tones, shiny gold (who could forget Moist‘s golden suit?) and darker shades of green, blue and purple dominate the movie and give it a very nice and coherent atmosphere.
The characters for the most part are pretty good. I especially liked Moist‘s portrayal. You can never get it exactly like in the book but I think Richard Coyle as Moist was appropriately charismatic and shiny. Another performance that I really liked was Charles Dance as Lord Vetinari. Even though Lord Vetinari is a dark character and people were concerned about blonde Charles Dance playing him, I think he did great. To me, he is Lord Vetinari now. At least much more than Jeremy Irons managed to bring across His Lordship in the adaption of Colour of Magic. David Suchet as Reacher Gilt makes a scathing villain and we are immediately sympathetic towards Madhav Sharma as his loyal and/but good natured accountant Crispin Horsefry. Andrew Sachs makes a funny old Junior Postman Groat and I must admit that Ian Bonar is an absolute personal favourite of mine in this movie. I already loved his character, the confused, geeky and sweet Stanley, in the book and, if I may say so, they cast the cutest guy humanly possible for that part! I love watching his facial expression every time he is on screen. He has the funniest demeanours. One of my favourite scenes in the entire movie is when Stanley sits there in the middle of the night and is slowly and delicately tearing apart two sheets of stamps, all the while his face changing from relaxed to strained to pleasure and finally to happiness. I wonder what the directional comment for that was. "Tear apart these sheets of stamps and make an orgasmic face“? I swear this scene cracks me up every time!
Now naturally there are also some things that I don‘t agree with so much in this adaption but they are all not too bad. For example, the golems were not like I imagined them. Didn‘t it say "Gingerbread Man faces"? But I could still get used to the portrayal of the golems in the movie and it didn‘t impede my enjoyment of the movie at all.
My biggest complaint about the movie is though, that they changed quite a lot about Adora Belle Dearheart. Her appeareance is spot-on, there is nothing to complain about there and I think Claire Foy does a good job of playing her as well. It‘s the way her character was changed slightly, I can‘t even really put my finger on it because it has been a little while since I have read the book but Adora was always an awesome and badass character in the book. In the adaption she sometimes comes across as a little bit whiny or overly offended. She gets a bit annoying at times, even though I was never annoyed at her behaviour in the book. The worst thing however was, that they changed her smoking habit. In the movie she starts smoking out of desperation because her family lost the Clacks system due to the collapse of the bank that had given them a credit. And when the happy end finally comes she gives up smoking! This is so not how she was in the book. Smoking is a point of Adora Belle‘s character. Not because it makes her "cool" but because she just was a smoker. That was one of her traits and I feel like the way they treated it in the movie felt a bit too "correct". You shouldn‘t sacrifice important traits of characters for the sake of being "correct".
Finally I can just say that my complaints about this movie weigh much lighter than the general enjoyment that I had while watching it. It‘s not the best movie in the world but it managed to pretty much keep up to my really high expectations for it and that‘s quite a feat! Yes, the book is better, much more intricate and are you surprised at that? The book is always better but I can acknowledge this adaption as a pretty good movie on its own!
A look at amazon.co.uk tells me that I can look forward to audio commentary, deleted scenes, a blooper reel and much more for the special edition DVD release. And I really hope to get that here in Germany, too. It would be so unfair to not get all the good stuff when you are going the extra mile and buy the special edition DVD!