“The Post” is based off the real life events surrounding the Vietnam war. It tells the story of the staff of the Washington Post and their struggle to publish a hard-hitting story that could potentially put them in jail and put the troops in harm’s way.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s study, commonly referred to as the Pentagon Papers, were composed of 47 volumes documenting the happenings of the war written by McNamara and a small group of government officials. He believed that there was no chance of America winning the war and that the situation was hopeless; however, he continued to publicly support sending troops to Vietnam to try to save America the embarrassment of losing a war.
All of this information was hidden from the American public. McNamara also failed to inform President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk of his study, which he claimed that he intended to publish later to serve as a written record of the war and be used for learning and historical purposes.
After the New York Times wrote an unflattering article about McNamara unveiling his deceit and were put on probation, editor of the Washington Post Ben Bradlee and his staff track down Dan Ellsberg, a military analyst who stole the Pentagon Papers. They wanted to get the full document and publish it to expose the true nature of America’s involvement in Vietnam. The staff of the Post, under the guidance of the owner and publisher of the paper Katharine Graham, encountered legal issues in their efforts to publish, and faced a decision that could cost them the safety of the troops and their own freedom.
The cinematic interpretation of this time in American history was interesting, enlightening and evocative. Audiences gain insight into the inner-workings of print media during this period, illustrating the struggles of journalists when it comes to ethics, the protection of first amendment rights, and how it affects the staff’s personal lives.
Casting for the film included A-list actors and actresses, such as two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks and three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, who perfectly portrayed the main roles of Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham. Sarah Paulson landed the role of Bradlee’s wife, Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee–a fairly minor role but essential to Ben Bradlee’s character development. Overall, casting for “The Post” was fantastically done; each character very well embodied their real-life counterparts.
Visually, the costume and design of the set was pretty accurate to the setting with nothing particularly special. Characters wore the typical muted colors and styles of the decade. The only notable glimpse of grandeur was the Graham house, which was quite large and elegant from the little it showed. The visual aspect of the film was very appropriate and pleasing, yet simple and understated.
The plot was very accurate to the actual situation it portrayed and was very interesting to me as a journalist. The film locally received a few criticisms for being boring or hard to follow, but I think this is because not everyone knows the details involving the Pentagon Papers and the war or don’t understand all the aspects of journalism and print media. Even without prior knowledge of the Pentagon Papers or any journalistic experience, the plot is still intriguing and enjoyable.
Produced and Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, “The Post” has been named 2017’s best film by the National Board of Review and one of the top 10 films of the year by Time and the American Film institute. It has also been nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress (Streep) a the 90th Academy awards and received six nominations at the 75th Golden Globe awards since its release on January 12.
“The Post” was rated 7.3 out of 10 stars by IMDb and 88% on the Tomatometer by Rotten Tomatoes. Based on plot, casting, screenplay, and overall enjoyment of the film, I give “The Post” four and a half out of five stars.