Review: Spielberg’s The Post
It is the year of 1971 – Nixon is president, the Vietnam War is still ongoing, hippies are protesting for peace and… women still leave the room after dinner so men can speak “about business”. Steven Spielberg’s newest movie “The Post”, featuring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, tackles not only the idea of transparency, free speech and free press, but also diversity and equality in society.
In a world dominated by men, Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) is leading her family’s newspaper, The Washington Post, making her the first CEO in Fortune top 500. Pressured by economic factors and her business partners, she decides to make the company public. However, during that period Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) starts to illegally copy and share with the New York Times top-secret sensitive documents about the Vietnam War, unveiling violations of laws and treaties by the US.
As soon as The NY Times publishes the first excerpts of the documents, the newspaper is banned by the Nixon Administration. But such important news cannot be stopped from spreading – Ben Bradlee, executive director of The Washington Post tries to trace the lead for more information and with the help of Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) manages to get all the Pentagon Papers and prepare them to be published in the Post. Seeking legal advice before printing the stories, the Washington Post members realise they might face prison. When asked by an intern whether what they are doing is legal, Bradlee replies “what do you think are we doing here for a living, kid?” – an iconic scene that sets the focus on the importance of media within a functioning democratic society – “the press is to serve the governed, not the governors”.
Facing the important decision of whether to publish or not the documents, Katharine Graham realizes that she holds more power than her business partners let her think. The company is owned by her, not her late husband or father. When asked about what made “The Post” story so special, both Spielberg and Streep have asserted that the evolution of Ms Graham as a person and her journey to find empowerment definitely has an important place in the world. “Katharine Graham was a woman to hold a line for press freedom when women were missing from any kind of leadership in press.”, added Ms Streep.
You will easily get immersed in the story Spielberg is directing: the hectic life of journalists is told using wide shots of the printing-press area and the newsrooms and close-ups of now obsolete objects that portray the environment of the 1970s very well. Moreover, you would start to spot similarities between 1971 and 2017 in terms of the relationship between journalism and Administration. No wonder why Spielberg has asserted “when I read the first draft of the script, this wasn’t something that could wait three years or two years — this was a story I felt we needed to tell today”.
“The Post” is a movie that will definitely inspire any person that considers a career in publishing. Teamwork, public wellbeing, interest and passion for truth are virtues that a good journalist should pursue.