The Post gives brilliant commentary on the importance of press in democracy
By Alexis Tucker, Managing Editor
Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” is set in 1971 during President Richard Nixon’s first term on the eve of a huge government scandal and presents the beginning of the civil unrest during the 1970s. The problems Americans faced is as relevant then as it is now with attacks being made toward the media from left and right.
The message that “The Post” delivers is that Americans must stay united and fight against unjust systems to protect democracy, or they risk losing their freedom. In this case, by publishing illegal documents, known as the Pentagon Papers that showed evidence of government officials believing that the Vietnam War was a lost cause.
There are many underlying themes that make this movie so moving and important. The press, for one, plays an integral part of the American democracy and serves the people to inform them while keeping the government in check. There are times in “The Post” when members of highly recognized publications discuss their relationships with government officials, but the press and the government will always be at odds.
The role of the press is more important than the relationship between government officials and publishers.
The other smaller theme is about women finding their voices in business and the difference those voices can make, especially since this movie is set during a time where women still had to break the mold to make a point. These themes are still relevant today and give some new perspective on the American way of life.
At least then, characters like Katharine Graham were willing to go to prison to keep the government in check. In today’s society, even during such political stress, not many people would be willing to shake the system in such a way.
“The Post” does an amazing job at making the audience feel anxious and hurried as it should. The story is centered around a newspaper, and deadlines must be met, leading to interesting scenes where a lot is going on all at once. The editing is very jumpy, cutting from one scene to another, but it is done purposefully to give that chaotic feeling.
People are all over the place trying to finish everything on time, which can mean long hours and mental exhaustion. This plays a role in the film as the paper is down to the wire to meet deadlines and stand against the Nixon administration.
The acting in “The Post” is incredible, with names that everyone knows. Tom Hanks stars as Ben Bradlee, a man who is stubborn, passionate and full of personal conviction. Bradlee is an executive editor of The Washington Post, and he pushes to get The Post recognition across the U.S. rather than it being just being a local paper.
Bradlee’s hard-headedness is what gets the paper in such trouble, but they stand on the right side of history.
Meryl Streep plays Katharine Graham, a woman used to a life of luxury, being talked over and down to until she finds her strength. Kay, as many of her friends call her, surprises everyone with her inner strength, and her hand in the paper leads The Washington Post to glory.
Both Hanks and Streep do a wonderful job portraying a push and pull relationship. Almost every scene between them are powerful in their own right. For one, Bradlee comes to discuss with Graham about the hypothetical scenario of having illegal papers, but of course they do have them. Their acting really sells the audience on the importance of printing the illegal papers and the implications if they do not.
All around, “The Post” is a great film to see with thoughtful writing, relevant themes and great acting. However, this may not be a movie for everyone. It is very heavy with political themes, some historical moments and a bit self-serving for people in the industries mentioned in the movie, but for those interested in politics and journalism, this is a must see.