Steven Spielberg's The Post A period Masterpiece
Once again it was an engrossing watch on last Friday, when I decided to catch the first day first show of the gripping drama by none other than Steven Spielberg, called The Post, already the most awaited thriller of this year based on true incidents. So, my journey continues in the new year with catching up with really great movies, like this one and it will be a shame not to talk about this one.
I had heard about the movie earlier, and caught up with some tit bit of news about it on various social media and movie review sites, and was waiting to watch it very eagerly. None in the movie going world and movie loving community will have to be told who Steven Spielberg is, the director producer who created a brand, a special brand of cinematic excellence quite well known and highlighted in the golden career of his till now, and I am a big fan of him.
And like always, he doesn’t disappoint. With a stellar cast including Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, a tight screenplay, and a fast paced yet delicately balanced cinematography, and a story that was very much needed to be told in these present times even more, The Post is indeed a period masterpiece that Spielberg has created and I strongly recommend everyone who loves quality cinema to go and see it if you already haven’t done yet, don’t miss it.
The Post – A brief background
The movie deals with one of the dark episodes in America’s long drawn war in Vietnam, and how the administration at White House with subsequent heads of states brushing down the secret of the repeated failures in dealing with the hard fought and unsuccessful battle of Vietnam in the early ’60s and the ’70s, and how these findings in the form of the famous Pentagon papers were kept out from the general public. And when these papers were leaked and supplied by one military analyst Daniel Ellsberg to the reporters of The New York Times, and on subsequent publishing of these classified documents, the entire administrative machinery drew first blood against the newspaper.
And there comes a much smaller family owned newspaper, The Washington Post into the picture as they didn’t take this breaking news published by The Times lightly. The Washington Post assistant editor Ben Bagdikian located the source of the news leak and gets successful in procuring much of the famous Pentagon papers and brought them to the Post top brass. And here comes the principal characters of The Post heiress and chief publisher Kay Graham played by Meryl Streep, and Editor in Chief Ben Bradlee played by Tom Hanks, into the picture.
Both had several connections in the White house. Both were well known in the top administration, including Graham’s best friend Robert McNamara, the then Secretary of Defense, played by Bruce Greenwood. With all these connections, it becomes a challenge for both Graham and Bradlee to decide on whether to publish these very controversial top secret documents, which the White House had been shielding from the general public for so long.
The events that followed subsequently was history. And those remarkable events that took place, were enough to send out the message to the world that truth cannot be hidden, nor can be shielded for long with force and might of the so called powerful. The Washington Post and The Times published those truth to the world and the rest of the journalistic fraternity followed suite, and instilled the message of truth which is the fundamental basic responsibility of the journalistic profession and the institutions and the flag bearers thereof. And that has been brilliantly portrayed in this period masterpiece by Spielberg.
Spielberg's Masterpiece My take
This is the first time that Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks worked together in a movie. I went to the theater with expectations of seeing a Spielberg movie in his true flagship style, and boy, I was not disappointed for a single moment. The move stayed true to it’s period settings including everything from costumes, accents, acting, ambiance, photography, cinematography and background score consisting of a continuous typewriting sound in the background. Spielberg’s fast paced created suspense can be seen throughout the movie. And the suspense got much more eerie with the President Nixon always being shown with his back in the evening at the Oval office giving threatening instructions to his team.
Now comes the acting part. And there I will give full marks to the stellar cast consisting of Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Carrie Coon, Bob Odenkirk, Zach Woods, Matthew Rhys, Bradley Whitford, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jesse Plemons. Hats off to Streep for playing a complex yet strong character of Kay Graham, the widowed heiress of Washington Post. Everything from taking the company to the stock exchange for going public, confronting her long time friend the secretary of defense regarding his involvement in the Pentagon papers, handling a very strong male dominated newspaper team and the board of directors most of whom were out there to prove her wrong regarding her decision of publishing the secret documents, and the penultimate moment where she had to take the decision of instructing her publishing team to go ahead, every bit of performance by Meryl Streep was pure class, as she completely grew into the character as is quite usual with all her past performances that made her what she is today.
And similar is the brilliant performance of Tom Hanks, as is quite usual with him too from all his previous acting performances in so many memorable movies he has done. Spielberg allowed these two central characters to act as to their own strengths, not over shadowing each other, but complementing each other and create a team that had a grave job in their hands to go against the administration and held up the truth. And in this, they gave one of their best performances till now.
The movie has been compared by some reviewers with the 1976 made All The President’s Men by Alan J Pakula. That was a brilliant movie too on the same subject with a stellar cast made in 1976. The Post is brilliant in it’s own way in 2017-2018 made by Steven Spielberg. And I think Spielberg has lived up to his name and told a story which was very much needed to be told in this modern generation, establishing the importance of free press void of any coercion and power threat to not come out with the truth. And that was the success which was seen in the highest court’s verdict in support of free press and that of the role of The Post in bringing out the disturbing and controversial truth of the Pentagon Papers. The movie is not be missed at all.