By James Long —
Starting the year off on an empowering note, Steven Speilberg’s “The Post,” is a tale of how The Washington Post decided to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971 while being faced with strong opposition from the Nixon Administration.
With Tom Hanks portraying the gritty but passionate Ben Bradlee, and Meryl Streep playing the exuberant, head-strong Katharine Graham, “The Post” is a heady biography that will leave you appreciating our right to freedom of speech and the struggle women have gone through to be heard in the workforce.
One of the things “The Post” does well is keep a 47-year-old story fresh and engaging even though we already know the outcome. In retrospect, we see publishing the Pentagon Papers as a courageous act that got The Washington Post nationally recognized, but Speilberg shows us how high the stakes truly were at the time when newspapers rarely opposed the government.
Prior to the 70s, there was a chumminess in D.C. between politicians and reporters that kept the limelight off sketchy government activities. But Graham took a leap of faith when she decided to go through with publishing, even though it could have destroyed relationships with family and friends like Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood).
Streep not only shows us how hard the pressures of publishing government secrets was, she also shows us how hard it was for a woman to run a company in the 70s. There are a number of scenes where Graham’s voice is shut out by her male counterparts and it makes it that much sweeter when she finally decides to publish despite opposition. Streep homes in on how important this time was for women to stand up and take action in the work force.
This movie does have a couple jargon-heavy scenes, so it may be in your interest to look up a little background of the Pentagon Papers before going to see it. But even if you don’t have a lot of background knowledge on these papers, you can easily still enjoy all the empowerment this movie has to offer.
At a time when journalism is under attack in our country, “The Post” has come into play as a film reminding us of how important it is the government does not infringe on our constitutional right to the First Amendment.