Spielberg shows us the (much-needed) power of the free press with The Post. Documenting The Washington Post’s involvement in publishing the Pentagon Papers, the film is a captivating newspaper thriller with a top-notch cast.
Tom Hanks takes on the role of Ben Bradlee, chief editor of the Post, and Meryl Streep is Kay Graham, the paper’s publisher, who is just now settling into her role having taken it over from her late husband.
The film examines the relationship of the press with the government, showing a time when both sides were getting quite cozy with one another until Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) made copies of The Pentagon Papers. They documented the U.S. involvement with the Vietnam War, and that the government covered up three presidents continued involvement with it despite knowing it was a no-win scenario.
When the New York Times first publishes some of the papers, the government tries to shut them down, citing treason, and the publication of secrets that must be kept from the public. As Ben and his team track down the source, they begin their own tangle with the government that will lead them all the way to a confrontation in the Supreme Court and decide whether papers serve the governed or the governor.
The Post walked away with two Oscar nominations, Best Picture and Best Actress (Streep) though it won neither.
Alongside Spielberg and Hanks, there are some other familiar Spielberg associates working behind the camera,. John Williams delivers a rousing score, Michael Kahn and Sarah Broshar serve as editors, and Janusz Kaminski serves as the director of photography.
I have always enjoyed films and stories about newspapers and journalism. I love the investigation, the checking of leads, evidence and sources, the conquest for truth and holding oneself to a higher ideal. All the President’s Men, Broadcast News, The Insider, and Zodiac, I dig on the storytelling, the way things need to be checked and re-checked, facts count.
And then you through Hanks into the mix. One of my all-time favourite actors. He and Spielberg are always a team to watch, and I just buy into his characters and his performances, and this time is no different.
Alongside Hanks and Streep is Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Bruce Greenwood, Alison Brie, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Plemons and David Cross.
The story not only tells an important story about journalism it is also an ode to the way newspapers used to be run, massive printing presses, copy, editing, a tactile experience that has changed in countless ways over the decade, and while some of it has lost its shine, the idea of the free press is still something to be supported and protected.
Facts are important, and no one is above the law.