phi·lat·e·list [fi-lat-l-ist]: one who collects stamps and other postal matter as a hobby or an investment
Since for as long as I can remember my passion has been movies, so it seemed
quite natural to allow my interest in film to dovetail with my ongoing
fascination with stamp collecting. For a while, this manifested itself in a
broad, rather random variety of items I collected, but eventually, I found it
easiest to narrow my emphasis to one specific area I enjoyed the most.
A 27"x41" poster, usually printed on paper stock and usually folded.
First Day Cover (FDC): An envelope with a new stamp and cancellation
showing the date the stamp was issued.
Though I love movies,
I've never really gotten into collecting memorabilia (though this had as much
to do with the logistics and economics of maintaining such a collection as
anything else). But I do have two vices: Original scores (on CD) and One Sheet
film advertisements reproduced onto postcards. Whereas a single one sheet could
put me back $20 or more (sometimes much, much more), a postcard would only cost
me a buck. So I've managed to collect a few thousand of them over the years.
Independent of this, I
started idly (even haphazardly) collecting movie stamps. Anything that related
to movies or the film industry, domestic or international, was fair game. And
this was fine for a while, but quickly became ungainly (more on that in a
future post). So I decided to limit myself to FDCs. But while First Day Cover
postmarks usually are found only on envelopes (usually with some pre-printed,
mass-produced design element and called a cachet), I decided to utilize
my postcard collection instead, creating a unique, and rather addictive, hybrid
of the two pasttimes.
Probably the best way to
illustrate this, however, is to simply show you. Here's a postcard I prepared
and sent to the appropriate USPS postmaster last month, and just recently got
As you can see, the film
is Fargo (Coen, 1996) and the stamps are 3 of the four Holiday
stamps released October 25, 2007 (note the postmark). While sometimes I'll use
a stamp that has a direct relationship to the movie I'm using, there are other
times when I'll pick a postcard simply because of a thematic or visual
relationship between the stamp and the film in question. This is a good example
of the latter (though sticklers might argue that the poster is actually an
example of cross-stitching, I'm not about to Knitpick the issue). The winter
theme and the color schemes on both also complement each other, and it doesn't
hurt that the movie itself is darkly humorous and the stamps, I think,
reinforce the playfully ironic tone of the poster art itself.
Fargo is also notable because it has
one of the best philatelic scenes committed to film (though we never see the
actual stamp). In the final scene, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) and her
husband Norm (John Carroll Lynch) are in bed. The film has previously referred
to a painting he's been working on for submission somewhere, and that arc
neatly closes here:
Norm: They announced it.
Marge: They announced it?
Norm: Three-cent stamp.
Marge: Your mallard?
Marge: Oh, that's terrific.
Norm: It's just a three-cent.
Marge: It's terrific.
Norm: Hautman's blue-winged teal got the 29-cent. People don't much use the
Marge: Oh, for Pete's…. Of course they do. Whenever they raise the postage,
people need the little stamps.
Marge: When they're stuck with a bunch of the old ones.
Norm: Yeah. I guess.
Marge: That's terrific. I'm so proud of you, Norm.
It's a lovely little moment, and Marge's law enforcement officer acts as an
interesting contrast to Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff in the Coens' recent film No
Country for Old Men. While both are able and compassionate, serving as the
moral centers of their respective stories, Marge is resiliently optimistic,
even when facing the malignancy of some men's casual indifference to anything
beyond self-interest. But Ed Bell is worn down by the world, by the
pervasiveness of evil and the ubiquity of violence that he sees around him. His
resignation (both vocational and spiritual) is a poignant one, for it's a
worldview that doesn't come easily for him. But he knows enough about himself
to appreciate his limits—that his capacity to confront the banality of cruelty
has eroded over time, and the more he observes, the more he yearns for some
kind of moral stability or reason that he can no longer find. It's an unusually
bitter ending for the Coens, but to these eyes, a perfectly calibrated one.
To this end, a lot of
credit goes to Roger Deakins, who perfectly captured the bleakness of both the
Minnesota snowscapes and the Texas desert in the two films. He's up for a
Cinematography Oscar this year, not only for the Coens' film, but also for The
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which would get my
vote). The last film by the Coens to get an Oscar was, of course, Fargo
(for their screenwriting and for McDormand as lead actress), and it appears
that the brothers are likely to pick up another set this year, with another
actor (supporting nominee Javier Bardem) in tow.
So, in short, that's what
this blog will be about--posting various fun, film-related FDCs that I've
created myself, as well as provide some general ruminations on movies I see
throughout the year. Thanks for reading, feel free to ask me any questions
(about movies, stamps, or movie stamps), and talk to you soon.