Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, The Post is a fine example of what film can be: educational, thought provoking, historical, entertaining, and all without gratuitous violence.
This film is based on the true story of the unfolding of events in the early 1970’s when The Washington Post received stolen government documents that had been laboriously photocopied and would come to be known as the Pentagon Papers. They were volumes of top-secret files outlining the deceit that occurred within the U.S. government to prolong the Vietnam War, a war that could not be won.
Over 50,000 American servicemen and women died during this ill-fated conflict, including a cousin of mine that is a bitter and traumatic memory still today for me. I had to witness his burial at the tender age of a high school freshman. It made me the anti-war/pro-peace person I am today. But enough about me.
The publisher of The Washington Post, Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), came into her position after the untimely death of her husband. Her right hand man is Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), a rather irascible and keen editor who has the trust of both Katharine and his employees.
Journalist Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) gets a lead on obtaining the government documents, and when The New York Times is censored by the Attorney General’s office from publishing them, the caretakers of the purloined papers, who believe it is necessary to make them public for the good of the country, contact Bagdikian.
The decision of whether to publish this information is not taken lightly. The press and national government are closely linked. They are shown celebrating each other’s birthdays and retirement, and dining at expensive restaurants together. They are friends and colleagues. Katharine really agonizes over this decision as she and others could be jailed for printing it.
She also has to overcome the distrust of male colleagues and superiors in the company, as this is after all the 1970’s, and she is the first woman to serve as CEO of a major newspaper.
I enjoyed seeing the actual newspaper come to print, including the focus on the typesetting procedures, something that is no longer used today. Technology has certainly advanced quite a lot in the last four plus decades.
Similar to Best Picture winner Spotlight (2015), journalism and its value to the public interest is a focus here. Steven Spielberg does a fantastic job keeping the forward motion of the story going. Meryl Streep is unlikely to win for Best Actress, as there are some great performances by women at the Academy Awards this year. Bob Odenkirk, from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame, is cast well as Bagdikian and plays his role brilliantly. Liz Hannah and Josh Singer wrote the screenplay. Josh co-wrote the screenplay for Spotlight, for which he won Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. The Post is a great film and one I hope you’ll watch. It is rated PG-13 for language and brief war violence.