The Post & The Power of the Press

70s themed movie asserts modern ideals

Lahari Ramini, Staff Writer

Through the breathtaking combination of the talents of actress Meryl Streep, actor Tom Hanks, and director Steven Spielberg, a new category of movies has come to our theaters: Journalism.

The movie The Post came out with extremely high expectations. As a fan of Spielberg and journalism myself, I could not wait to experience this movie. The movie is set in the 70s, but the ideas put forth seem to have more of a connection to our current society.

The film opened with a clip of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, while a writer, Daniel Ellsberg (played by Matthew Rhys), watches it all sitting by a typewriter. Then, we find this writer sneaking papers to leak government secrets to the press. These papers come to be known as the Pentagon Papers.

I went into the movie with some background knowledge of the Pentagon Papers, but I learned much more in this movie. It definitely would have been more enjoyable with a full understanding of what happened.

As the movie goes on, we find that many political leaders, and the government in general, have been lying to the press about the situation in the Vietnam War.

After all this setting and background, the movie jumps to the main characters, Katherine Graham (played by Meryl Streep), owner of the then smaller newspaper company, The Washington Post and Ben Bradlee (played by Tom Hanks), the executive editor of the paper.

Though Graham inherited the paper from her deceased husband, the men in her company don’t necessarily trust her leadership. Her ideas aren’t put forth as easily, even though she is the owner of the company.

This portrayal of Graham shows a woman trying to find her voice. Streep does very well in this role, as she shows the struggle Katherine goes through while attempting to claim authority.

The Washington Post was still a small company at this time, and it wasn’t even in leagues with the bigger, better New York Times.  However, Ben Bradlee wanted to change this.

The movie then progresses to an internal conflict within Graham, who has to make decisions about the top-secret “Pentagon Papers” that could make or break her company.

In the end, the movie asserts a universal idea: the importance of press because of the dishonesty of the government. It also had themes of feminism, leadership, and government corruption.

Streep and Hanks do a spectacular job of portraying their characters. The audience is drawn in by the way Katherine handles her business and how Ben is always a step further than everyone else.

An NPR interview of Katherine Graham showed evidence that she and Ben Bradlee were portrayed correctly in the movie. The events were the same in history, as well.

Overall, this film is definitely for more sophisticated audiences. If you are a fan of historical political thrillers, this movie is right for you. The constant battle between the press and the government is shown through the emphasis of the importance of the press. After all, as Katherine Graham puts it, “The newspaper is like the rough draft of history.”