The Postman is a feature film based on David Brin's 1985 book of the same name. The film takes place in a post apocalyptic United States brought about by racial conflict and plagues that kick-started in 1997. It's now 2013 and an unnamed drifter has found the uniform and mailbag of a long dead member of the United States Postal Service and putting it on claims to be from the Restored United States and begins delivering mail in a small town only for groups fearing this new government to cause the town harm. In the end his myth about the Restored United States and his effective running of a postal service inspires the eventually revival of civilized society through hope for a better tomorrow. The film has a run-time of 177 minutes and was released to theaters on December 15, 1997.
In 2013, an unnamed nomad enters the Oregon flatlands, trading Shakespearean performances for food and water. In one of the towns, the nomad is forced into the ranks of the predominant militia in the area, known as the Holnists and run by General Bethlehem. When he escapes, the nomad takes refuge in a dead postman's mail vehicle.
With the postman's uniform and mail bag, he arrives in Pineview claiming to be from the newly restored US government. He convinces town sheriff Briscoe by showing a letter addressed to elderly villager Irene March. The Postman inspires a teenager named Ford Lincoln Mercury and swears him into the postal service. The Postman also meets spouses Abby and Michael, fulfilling their clinical request to impregnate her. When the Postman leaves for the town of Benning, he carries a pile of mail left at the post office door by the townspeople.
During a raid of Pineview, General Bethlehem learns of the Postman’s tales of a restored government and becomes afraid of losing power if word spreads. He burns the American flag and post office, kills Michael, kidnaps Abby, and next attacks the town of Benning. The Postman surrenders, but Abby saves him from execution, and the two escape into the surrounding mountains. A pregnant Abby and an injured Postman ride out the winter in an abandoned cabin.
When spring arrives, they cross the range and run into a girl, who claims to be a postal carrier. She reveals that Ford Lincoln Mercury organized a postal service based on the Postman's story. They have established communications with other settlements, creating a quasi-society and inadvertently spreading hope.
Bethlehem is still fighting to suppress the postal carriers, who are mostly teenagers pitted against a better-equipped enemy. In the face of mounting casualties, the Postman orders everyone to disband and writes a surrender letter to Bethlehem. However, Bethlehem learns to his dismay that the Postman's example has spread farther than he could have anticipated when his men capture a carrier from California, and redoubles his efforts to find the Postman. The Postman, Abby, closely followed by young carriers Eddie, Ponytail and Billy, travel to Bridge City. When Bethlehem's scouts catch up, the mayor, (possibly) Tom Petty (“I know you, you’re famous”) helps the Postman to escape on a cable car to find volunteers for an army of carriers.
In a recitation of King Henry V's speech prior to the Siege of Harfleur, the Postman rallies himself and his troops to war. The mounted Carriers and Holnists meet across a field. Knowing the casualties will be great if the armies meet in battle, the Postman instead challenges Bethlehem for leadership, with their troops as witnesses. The Postman wins the fight with inspiration from the "Neither snow nor rain" inscription, then offers Bethlehem a chance to build a new, peaceful world. Bethlehem lunges to shoot the Postman but is shot by Colonel Getty, Bethlehem‘s ranking officer. Getty surrenders, and the rest of the Holnists follow.
Thirty years later, the Postman's grown daughter speaks at a ceremony unveiling a statue in tribute to her father, who has recently died (1973–2043). The modern clothing and technology show that the Postman's actions have helped rebuild a civilized society.