There have been several live-action translations of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld stories so far, and they’ve really been quite good, but none of them have really captured the essence of the affair like Going Postal. They have largely served as a very good time for those who are already massive fans, but the relation of the splendor has been largely left to the fact that you already read the book in question, and you bring the lion’s share of the brilliance with you.
That’s still true to some extent here, but it’s a much different game. Much of the credit goes to a different style of screenplay translation, focusing more on how to deliver through the medium, as opposed to just making sure the key lines show up. Moreover, the acting, while solid enough in other efforts, including a good turn by Sean Astin, is at a much better level here. Not exactly better acting in a general sense, but more Discworldy acting.
Richard Coyle (of a great many treasures, but undeniably “of” Coupling) is perfect as Moist von Lipwig, a conman who gets another chance when Ankh Morpork’s famous Patrician very nearly kills him, in order to give him a new life. The deal is that Moist will get the post office back to real service, and offer up some competition to The Klacks, a kind of semaphore communication system that delivers messages all over the Disc.
It’s an impossible task, made worse by the fact that, often unreliable though The Klacks may be, the situation is like trying to get people to spend money on the Pony Express instead of using their cell phones… well, sort of. Beyond the obvious problems of running a post office that has been operational in years, Moist has very little staff to help him and millions of letters that have gone undelivered lending their spirit to the building. Among his help is Groat (Andrew Sachs… yes, Manuel), an aging postal worker who never left the service, despite the fact that there’s nothing to do.
With no one to actually deliver letters, Moist turns to hiring golems, and runs into Adora Dearheart (Claire Foy), who is not only the leading champion of golem rights, but the daughter of the man who invented The Klacks, and had the company stolen from him by Reacher Gilt (David Suchet – yes, Poirot).
Moist’s grifter abilities give him insight into how to get the postal service off the ground, but the Disc is conspiring against him, and there are more problems than can possibly be dealt with. The constant battle for funds to get things running, and the competition with The Klacks lead to Moist’s idea for creating stamps, among other things, but he’s also got to deal with the demands for golem work breaks, a mountain of letters that are apparently conspiring to show him the true cost of his past, and a Patrician who sees poor results a nice excuse for making many smaller bits of you.
It’s a wildly uphill battle, and the fact that Moist’s main inclination in any situation is to run away isn’t helping things a great deal. Neither is the fact that he finds he cannot help raising the showmanship bar over and over by challenging The Klacks to competitions that ultimately lead to that which is clearly impossible.
As I say, Richard Coyle leads the charge here, obviously supported by an amazing cast – including Charles Dance as The Patrician, Lord Vetinari, and a small but wonderful role by the wonderful Tamsin Greig.
I don’t want to seem harsh toward the previous Discworld efforts, because they are wonderful as well, but this one really showcases the abilities of the books, and make it crystal clear why the Discworld spans dozens of books. The humor translates beautifully this time around, with the dry wit being delivered effectively, and the characters oozing with charm, whether you love them, or love to hate them.
Bonus Features: Terry Pratchett video introduction (5 min.); director Jon Jones audio commentary; and bonus disc (62 min.) with cast, crew, and fan interviews; deleted scenes; blooper reel; and image galleries.
Available to U.S. audiences for the first time with this release, Terry Patchett’s beloved Discworld novel comes to life in the dazzling two-part drama, Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD from Acorn Media on September 20, 2011. Starring top British actors Richard Coyle (Lorna Doone), David Suchet (Agatha Christie’s Poirot), Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) and Timothy West (Bleak House, Edward the King), the spectacular 2010 production boasts first-class performances, elaborate costumes and impressive sets. The 2-disc DVD boxed set and Blu-ray Single feature more than an hour of exclusive extras, including video introduction from Terry Pratchett; director commentary; deleted scenes; blooper reel; and cast, crew, and fan interviews ($39.99, www.AcornOnline.com). A worldwide phenomenon best-known for his Discworld series, Pratchett ranks second only to J.K. Rowling as the U.K.’s bestselling author and in the top-ten bestselling non-U.S. authors in the United States.
Moist von Lipwig is a con man and a charlatan—and he loves every minute of it. From confidence tricks to far-reaching financial fraud, von Lipwig revels in hoodwinking, fleecing, and otherwise ripping off the citizens of Ankh-Morpork. When the law finally catches up to him, the city’s shrewd leader, Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance), offers von Lipwig a choice: he can take over the derelict post office . . . or suffer a painful death.
The reluctant postmaster finds himself in charge of thousands of undelivered letters, commanding a charmingly deranged staff of misfits, and at odds with corrupt businessman Reacher Gilt (David Suchet), who will stop at nothing to crush his competition. Along the way, he falls under the spell of the icy Adora Dearheart (Claire Foy), much to her chagrin. In this delightful adaptation, Moist von Lipwig needs every ounce of his considerable charm and cunning to restore the post office, trounce Gilt, and win Adora’s affections.