A man types furiously on a typewriter. Soldiers decorate their faces with black and green paint. A trek into the forest turns into a deadly battle.
Based on historical events, “The Post” mysteriously transitions into an office filled with classified papers, revealing the true plot of the movie: the controversy surrounding The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers, leaked government documents detailing the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
“The Post” is a true success story, with an underdog newspaper (The Washington Post) learning how to step up in the news world and stay true to their First Amendment rights. The film presents the ethical conflict that journalists face when the presidential administration attempts to ban the freedom of the press to protect the government’s image. Director Steven Spielberg uses the slow unveiling of pieces of a news story that reveals the government secrets to build suspense and keep viewers interested.
Throughout the movie, Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) faces the challenges of being the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, The Washington Post. Though she is overlooked at banking investment meetings and considered unqualified in the eyes of her male co-workers, her opinion ultimately proves crucial when The Post must decide whether to risk their entire business by releasing the classified documents or remaining silent.
Although Graham learns to take the lead and embrace her role as a publisher, she is one of the only women shown in the movie. There is only one female reporter for The Post, and there are no female soldiers or politicians. Editor of The Post Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks)’s wife and daughter are shown, however their main role is to serve snacks and to sell lemonade, respectively. The lack of women in prime positions, as well as the lack of people of color, serves as a harsh reminder of the discrimination in the 1970s time period in which the movie takes place.
Despite the action packed opening, “The Post” was rather slow-paced, typical of that of a period piece. The historical context is interesting to those who already know about the Pentagon Papers, however may be confusing to those who don’t know much about them.
With the star studded cast and suspenseful plot, “The Post” transforms a little-known historical event into a fascinating story about the duty of the press to the people. •