Walks in with yet another engaging spectacle, Steven Spielberg is hands down a master at filmmaking. The extremely gifted man once again proves with The Post Movie that he is peerless at what he does. His work never ceases to paint flairs of extraordinaire. He is the one man who could make a simple conversation stand out. And there is so much inscribed in his frames that you can’t help but wonder how does he manage to pull it all off.
There’s a story he tells even in long winding conversations. The Post Movie is full of such brilliant masterly koreros. Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep with their Oscar-bait presence, make all those chats stand out. There’s something about his direction that’s instantly uplifting. Even when he is not busy painting fiction like last years The BFG, he is pouring meaning into the mundane, shaping it and moulding into something delectable.
In a world of power that’s run by the corrupt, perches a voice that’s broiling to do the right thing. The Post movie bases itself on that very run, the pointlessness of a war that had edged itself precariously on the parapet of “let down”. The fact “we can’t show the world we lost” smothers the superpower dream and the United States government was finding it difficult to come clean. It was The New York Times who took the first plunge but the victor – The Washington Post who saw it all the way through.
The Post Movie Plot and Theme (Spoilers)
The Post narrates the true story of the Pentagon Papers that shook the very foundation of the US government when they were made public in 1971. It is built around all that took place inside the head of all the decision makers and the turmoil they were in when something as huge as the truth itself came along.
The Post movie kicks off in the year 1966 with a prologue showing Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) accompanying US troops and documenting US military activities led by Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). When speaking to President Lyndon Johnson he expresses how hopeless the Vietnam war was, and yet publicly speaking McNamara says the exact opposite.
There was something about that blunt lie that shakes the very foundation on which Daniel was built. Unable to take it anymore he decides to let all the government secrets out in the open for the public to see. He photocopies classified reports that showcase the progress of Americans on Vietnam soil ever since the time of Harry S. Truman and then leaks it to The New York Times. Later he releases it to The Washington Post where a pissed off Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) was scouring for news.
Quality drives profitability.
It should be well noted the import of the papers. It is worth noticing how the director chose to run the camera literally with the Pentagon papers thus establishing the colossal importance of news. A world was about to go down for some really powerful people. You could literally feel the weight of the papers in that parcel that made its way to Ben’s desk.
Meryl Streep as Kay Graham
Katherine Graham or Kay (Meryl Streep) found a world on her shoulders when she took the reins of The Washington Post in her hands as the publisher and owner after her husband died. She was overpowered by some really strong men, and it was hard for her to cope with those who condescended her at all times. Be it be her advisors or the men who surrounded her.
In the beginning, there was this apparent tension as clouds of doubts hovered over her. It was important to show that owing to the huge decision boiling in the eventuality of the flick. Meryl nails it giving an Oscar-worthy performance yet again.
There are some really ingenious shots put in by Steven Spielberg when he chose to show a woman entering a room full of men. It spoke of contradiction. Even though words weren’t spoken, eyes spake ’em. There was an evident air of control that you could sense in that frame when Katherine takes her seat unable to speak herself out due to stress and hesitation.
News is the first rough draft of history.
You could sense her to be this vulnerable woman who was forced out of her way and flung into a room full of responsibilities. What people did not know was the undeniable fact that every person is totally capable of handling things once they get a hang of it.
There was also one scene where all the wives of men at great posts stood outside smoking, waiting and discussing trivial matters while this contrasting lady Kay Graham goes right through them all to meet with the ‘men’ to take a call. It is just truly inspiring for all those who thought there was a said place for women. She literally changed the very perspective people had about women.
Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee
Editor in Chief of The Washington Post is Ben Bradlee portrayed by Tom Hanks. He is rooting for a big news when the biggest of all news hits him in the face. A lot of shots are called by him in the flick but at the end of the day, the decision still stood with Kay.
Tom Hanks, the brilliant actor he is, adds in plenty of heft in the pacing story through his acting. He is still one of the best actors, hands down. Taking a seat like a boss, turning down people who aren’t useful, you could literally feel him turn into the Editor in Chief of The Washington Post.
I always wanted to be part of a small rebellion.
The biggest challenge all the popular newspapers in United States faced was the government itself. When The New York Times had leaked the first received document, the government restricted the papers from publishing further by calling it an act of treason. Now more of those papers fell into the hands of The Washington Post, and it was a suicide mission for them if they still went ahead to publish.
So it all boiled down to the decision, the ultimate decision whether to post or not to. That decision was to be made by none other than Katherine herself. What made matters worse for her was the fact that she was good friends with Robert McNamara. Put in a position that demanded her to be truthful to the country, to be loyal to her friendship, despite being under the crosshair that could have destroyed the paper she had inherited, Katherine had the world spinning. She had to make a call.
The conversation between Ben and his wife Tony Bradlee (Sarah Paulson) about Kay being brave is something to watch out for.
To make this decision, to risk her fortune and the company that’s been her entire life, well I think that’s brave.
Then we had people constantly battling with her, advising her not to publish since it could decimate the company to tatters. People who looked down upon her, for not only being a woman, but for being incapable of taking a decision on her own.
He says we can’t, I say we can. There, you’re caught up.
Despite everything and a mind-numbing thrashing, she finally makes the right call by choosing to print.
My decision stands, and I’m going to bed.
She had just bugled the arrival of truth, and nothing could have put it better than the following dialogue:
The movie ends with a proper epilogue adding fuel to fire by winking at the Watergate scandal which ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon.
You can order The Post from here:
The Final Verdict
The Post movie needs to be celebrated not just for the fact of how convincingly it has been made and produced, but for its ability to be able to break something unbreakable. Even something as gargantuan as a government could be wrong. It is after all made with people. If they are corrupt, that’s what the governance would end up becoming.
The Post movie is a revolt that brims us up with hope that truth beats everything. You just have to take a stand and never back down even though how intimidating the enemy is.
The papers weigh a country’s conscience. If they are rigged or stomped down, nothing will ever be right again. It’s a movie that sets history right.