Ten months ago, in the midst of shooting Ready Player One, producer Kristie Macosko Krieger presented Steven Spielberg with a script: The Post. Finding the story too compelling, too relevant and too important to resist, it was vital to tell this crucial story of journalistic history; and tell it now.
Remarkably The Post is the first time acting giants Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg have collaborated. And believe me, the end result, is worth the wait.
Many will have heard of the Watergate Scandal, but a little known tale, and the precursor to Watergate, was a top secret study called the Pentagon Papers.
These papers would reveal the futile attempts of the US government to win the Vietnam War. A war that would last two decades, four presidential administrations, and would claim the lives of over a million people.
This story starts with Vietnam veteran, and contributor to the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg. His sense of duty compels him to act in the public’s interest, and inform them of the truth behind the Vietnam War. At a great personal risk, he photocopies the 7, 000 page document, and puts it in the hands of a New York Times reporter.
An article goes to print, the consequence being that the Nixon’s administration requests the federal court to place an injunction, to halt any subsequent publications by The Times.
This leaves the door open for all other newspapers to bravely seek the truth, even if this means going to prison.
Executive editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) of one such newspaper, The Washington Post and his publisher Katharine ‘Kay’ Graham (Meryl Streep) will need to become inextricably united, if they are going to pick up the baton, and fight for the truth, and for freedom of speech.
Where there’s risk, there’s drama. So in a true story relating to the publishing top secret government documents, there is of course risk, and drama. But The Post has much, much more. It’s has characters that you care about, and attention to finite detail. Even the original document was sourced, so that the paper replicated in the film would be historically correct.
Set in 1971, The Post will see Spielberg’s first venture into this era. Bradlee was even his neighbour at one point, but Oscar winning director never knew this story.
Offices in New York, ready to be renovated into luxury condos were transformed into the utterly immersive newsroom. The distinctive tapping of typewriters, the huge printing presses and linotype machines, totally transported me. And it certainly satisfied the romanticism I have, for that old school journalism.
Liz Hannah wrote the original draft of the screenplay, Spielberg then recruited Spotlight screenwriter Josh Singer. I’m so glad he did, as Singer certainly brings a real legitimacy to his writing.
Although very much an ensemble piece, the film’s central characters are Bradlee and Graham, two very different personalities. Watching their professional relationship evolve on screen was superbly choreographed. Which applauds a tightly written script and accomplished acting, as Spielberg did not conduct any prior rehearsals.
Every single performance is as you would expect, is flawless. But in this age of diversity I found watching Streep’s stoic portrayal, incredibly empowering.
Katharine Graham was the first woman to head a major national news organisation. A housewife who inherited the position, when her husband committed suicide. She courageously took the reins and steered The Washington Post, and perhaps unintentionally, the woman’s movement forward.
I do recommend watching The Post as it truly delivers an important message of bravery, camaraderie and defending our right, not only as media, but as human beings, to freedom of speech.
Take a look at the Trailer
Distributed by Entertainment One
Words by Claire Bueno
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