Is 'The Post' Movie Based On A True Story?

Cheryl Sanders
January 13, 2018

More importantly, she would be long gone before the newspaper would pass on to Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Steven Spielberg is nothing short of Shakespeare of cinema and his language very more than any director in the history as he will be coming out with a science fiction story about a agme called Ready Player One in no time. Screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. A movie about the Washington Post's 1971 battle with the Nixon White House over the release of the Pentagon Papers seemed like a well-timed finger in the eye to an administration whose war with the press has given us "fake news" and "alternative facts". Even though the themes are weighty and the parallels are provocative, my takeaway resembled what Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) growls at one point in the newsroom: "My God, the fun".

Spielberg masterfully brings together all the events and characters leading up to the uncovering of the full Pentagon Papers that hid the truth behind the Vietnam War from the Americans for 30 years and what follows thereafter. The Vietnam War is raging and a former military analyst named Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has managed to pilfer classified documents from the Rand Corp., the government-funded think tank. Robert McNamara had commissioned the study when he was Lyndon Johnson's defense secretary - and a central participant in Graham's ongoing garden parties. Yet, it "sent boys to die" - this they did largely to avoid the humiliation of the American defeat.

Receiving top billing is Meryl Streep and surprisingly, this is her first leading role in a Steven Spielberg film (she had a vocal cameo in Artificial Intelligence). While the actress' co-star Tom Hanks, who Globes host Seth Meyers suggested should be Oprah's running mate if she made a decision to run, added, "I believe Oprah wakes up in the morning and both personally and professionally wonders what she can do specifically in order to make the world a better place".


But The New York Times is one up on the Post when a few explosive classified documents on the United States government's involvement with the Vietnam War make it to their front pages. The Post and New York Times were allowed to continue to publish this material after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Nixon's attempt to stop the presses. It's not just the old-timey image of a fast-talking journo with a MEDIA pass stuck in his fedora; it's the idea that people are apparently much more trusting of journalists and of the work that they do if they're portrayed by A-list movie stars in a fast-paced, flashy drama. Graham, the boss, is caught in the middle.

Even though anyone who knows the history knows what will end up happening, the suspense is still palpable. Graham had inherited The Post when her husband Philip committed suicide in 1963.

I encourage you to go see this movie.


Less concerned with the depiction of journalistic rigour and process that forms only a part of the on screen narrative, The Post effectively centres around one decision by one person and the Publisher, facing a financial upheaval at the company and a Government hell-bent on ensuring the papers never see the light of day, coming to terms with the implications of the decision. It's finances were precarious and owner Katharine Graham was undermined by the attitudes of the time towards any woman in a traditionally male role.

The large ensemble cast is given plenty to tear into - this is riveting, big-picture stuff about our country and how it works - so it's a shame the great Sarah Paulson, playing Bradlee's wife, is stuck with next-to-nothing to do but make concerned faces in the background and prepare sandwiches while the reporters do their work.


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