Mark Watches ‘Going Postal’: Part 2

In the second part of Going Postal, I STILL REALLY LOVED THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Discworld.

Oh, wow. Wow!!! This was so good, y’all, and it was easily my favorite of the Discworld adaptations for many of the reasons outlined in the previous review. BUT LET ME REPEAT SOME OF THEM, as well as address some of the issues I had that ended up being addressed in different ways. 

First of all: This really felt like the book from beginning to end. I say that knowing that there were some changes. The changes, however, weren’t significant enough to make this adaptation feel like it wasn’t honoring the source material. (Hell, one of them, which I’ll get to, actually provided a very wonderful emotional moment.) It always felt like it was made by people who understood Pratchett and wanted to put the best possible version of it onscreen. 

It really showed, y’all. Much of the same arc exists here that unfolded in the book, and even the solution to Reacher Gilt is pretty damn close to what actually transpired. What’s interesting, though, are the changes. So let’s start with Gilt, because there’s a HUGE change that makes him a fascinating character in the world of the film. As I said in the last review, there were moments where I felt Gilt was being portrayed as this over-the-top antagonist rather than a criticism of a specific form of thought. But I also remembered just how despicable and cruel Gilt was throughout Going Postal, and I think that is what this adaptation leans into more than anything. 

On top of that, though, this second half does explore just how deeply corrupt Gilt and his ilk are in more detail, and I feel a lot better about his betrayal. It’s just that since this adaptation gets rid of the board itself, Reacher Gilt personifies all of the parts of this wretched apparatus, rather than have it spread over various characters. Well, to a point. In hindsight, I see Horsefly a little differently, since he could represent those who are complicit in the monstrosity of those like Gilt. And that’s a very different kind of complicity of someone like Mr. Pony, who continued work out of desperation, need, and because he really, really loved what he was doing. Still, the brunt of the work done to build up conflict and a villain fell on Gilt’s shoulders, and I think that it was absolutely fascinating that Gryle, now perished in this version of the story, isn’t set upon Horsefly. No, Gilt does the murder himself, and it makes him someone who is far more hands-on (literally so!) in his violence. So I actually think that this version of Gilt is its own horror, if that makes sense? Perhaps Pratchett’s criticism of libertarian business structures and monopolies isn’t quite as strong here. (Though it does still make an appearance!) But I’m okay with this changing things if it still gives a compelling story, and Gilt is still a fantastic antagonist. 

It was also a delight watching the enemies-to-lovers path of Moist and Adora Belle unfold, and I really think Claire Foy and Richard Coyle did a brilliant job playing off the chaotic energy of their characters. The only thing I wasn’t super into was how aggressive the dance scene was. I think there is a big difference between Book Adora and Movie Adora, and if I remember it, Adora was still thorny towards Moist, but perhaps not so utterly in disgust with him? I mean, I know they played around with the timeline, because the fancy dinner scene in the book was where Moist and Reacher Gilt finally met, and it wasn’t the big confession scene it was here. So, granted, Movie Adora is at a much, much different place emotionally. Still, Moist felt really uncomfortable here? There’s lots of grabbing and not letting Adora go when she clearly didn’t want to stay. It was uncomfortable to watch, especially since the scene in the book was a lot more charming. Thus, this came off completely differently, you know? 

There were two other major character changes here, but I actually came to enjoy those changes. First, I now understand the choice to use Mustrum Ridcully throughout, rather than Pelc. Why not use a wizard who might be more well known to a more casual Discworld fan or someone who had somehow only seen these adaptations? (Look, it’s possible!) When we see Mustrum again, he feels a lot more like his character and the wizards in general. And for the most part, the wizards exist here for plot reasons: Someone needed to read the clacks message as it arrived in Uberwald. The wizards are just messy and chaotic here, like they are in the scene in the Great Hall. 

So, the adaptation changes this to Moist’s hanging. I think it was a smart choice instead of making this happen in Unseen University. It’s a lot more dramatic, and since board members aren’t around, it didn’t make sense to keep it exactly the same. This also made BRILLIANT use of the fact that Mr. Pump didn’t die in the Post Office fire! Look, I’ll always love what Pratchett did with his death in the novel. That’s it’s own thing, though, and having Mr. Pump save Moist because he had to keep Moist safe??? OH. OH IT HIT AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PART OF MY HEART. And I loved it!!! 

In the end, this whole adaptation captured the heart and soul of Going Postal, and really, that’s all I ultimately want from an adaptation. I mentioned that idea in my review last week: How do you take a story in one medium and bring it to another? What things do you have to consider in terms of the constraints of the medium? The Discworld series deserves to be read, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to film it. (Or animate it, for that matter. Or hell, do audio plays of it!) I have had a lot of fun visiting these books again in this format, and I hope you have, too! Because yeah, you can adapt Discworld and do it pretty fucking well.

Onwards, friends! Next week, I start the twelfth series of Doctor Who!

The video for “Part 2” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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