The Post is an important look back at the importance of freedom of the press and how that so relevant in our modern age.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Summary: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. Inspired by true events.
2017 hasn’t been a good year to be a journalist. We have a President of the United States that is currently trying to personally dictate what is real journalism and what isn’t. There have been T-shirts sold on Walmart’s website (from a third-party seller) that say “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required.” People who are trying to do their jobs are routinely threatened for all sorts of reasons, and many of them travel into what seems like the depths of hell itself to show us what’s happening outside our backyard. There was another year in recent history where it wasn’t great to be a journalist, and that was 1971.
The concept of freedom of the press was under attack, and President Nixon shut down the New York Times’ coverage of the Pentagon Papers. This movie is about Washington Post — which wasn’t the paper it is today back then — and their decision to also publish the papers despite the fact that they would be breaking the law, plus the lawsuit that followed. The movie version is brought to us by Steven Spielberg with a cast of masters including Meryl Steep and Tom Hanks. It couldn’t feel more relevant considering what is going on in the current political climate.
The Post is likely going to be one of the best movies of the year. While there isn’t any easier way to get award nominations than to base your movie on historical events, unlike most Oscar bait, this feels relevant. This isn’t another movie about one of the World Wars that we’ve seen a million times. This is the story of events that many people remember seeing unfold.
We get to see the push/pull that comes from wanting to keep yourself, your family, and your legacy, safe and the desire to do the right thing. We also get to see how some things never change, such with Streep’s character Kay Graham. Kay is a woman in power who was never supposed to be there, and she doesn’t know how to handle it. The film deals with people not just undermining her, but acting as if she isn’t even worth acknowledging. It’s done through subtle things like how everyone in the movie keeps bumping into her as if they can’t even see her.
Then we have Hanks as journalist Ben Bradlee, who was pushing for the paper to publish the information from the beginning. He’s a man not just looking for a scoop, but one that could elevate his purpose in life. He has a strong sense of justice and what he wants out of his job. He believes that printing the papers is the right thing to do — not just because he wants to get one up on the New York Times, but because he believes it is ethically right.
It also helps that there’s a master at the helm. Spielberg is the best at bringing stories that need to be told to light and presenting them in a way anyone can enjoy. This isn’t just a movie for journalists or history buffs. This is one of those important movies that everyone should see, because despite being set in the past, it feels very of the moment. It also helps that Spielberg does what David Fincher did for The Social Network, making “a bunch of journalists sorting through a bunch of papers and writing on typewriters” exciting to watch — even if you know how the cards will fall by the end.
The Post is eyeing the awards season, but it’s one that undoubtedly deserves to be there. It’s extremely well acted, a fascinating true story, and one that everyone should go see. There is a fundamental misunderstanding about what the press does when it comes to keeping political leaders in check, and this movie is here to remind us. While not the most mind-blowingly exciting of the movies to inevitably end up in the “best picture” category, it’s still important and uplifting — even as the you realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s time to learn from history.
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