Oscar nominated “The Post” dramatizes history of American corruption


Theatrical Release Poster for new movie “The Post.” (Movie Tavern)

Sloane Warner

Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” is a movie of firsts, from the first female publisher of The Washington Post to the first publishing of classified documents detailing actions of the government in the Vietnam War. It details the newspaper’s struggle to become a well-renowned paper and its fight with larger papers, such as The New York Times. With a memorable cast including Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson and Bradley Whitford, the movie is packed with star-power.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks star in “The Post.” (CNN)

“The Post” focuses on Katherine Graham (Streep) and her place as publisher of The Washington Post, a position that has been in her family for generations. As the first female publisher, she struggles to have as much of a say in the movements of the paper as her deceased husband had. Though the issues surrounding Graham’s husband’s death are approached later in the movie, it is clear that Graham was not the first choice as the publisher.

The movie opens with what could be compared to a war scene from “Forrest Gump.” It details journalist Daniel Ellsberg’s late 1960’s trip to Vietnam to document the progress of the war. After returning home, Ellsberg stole classified documents, now nicknamed “The Pentagon Papers,” and leaked them slowly to the press. After The New York Times published these papers, the government attempted to prevent them and other newspapers from publishing any classified documents. Spielberg dramatizes the period of time between The New York Times’ publishing, The Washington Post’s publishing, the Supreme Court trial and the announcement of the ruling and gives the readers a sense of a ticking time-bomb, ready to explode and kill any chance the newspapers had of asserting the First Amendment’s rule of freedom of the press. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the newspapers, calling the restraint unconstitutional. The movie uses this ruling as a beacon of hope for journalists everywhere, as many smaller newspapers began to follow in the steps of The New York Times and The Washington Post and publish the classified papers without fear of retribution from the government.

“The Post” explores the many relationships of the world of journalism; publisher to editor, writer to sources, newspaper to newspaper and editor to personal friends. Subjects of sexism, government secrets and the ethical decisions of journalists are discussed in Spielberg’s adaptation of the story. 

“The Post” is rated PG-13 for language and war violence. Viewers who have a previous understanding of the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers may better appreciate the movie. “The Post” is being shown across Atlanta, and tickets are priced at around $10. Don’t forget to silence your cell phones before the movie starts!

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