Fake news is a word that everyone will most likely hear at least once a day in the age of Trump. The media and the press are in a constant battle with the White House, as well as the entirety of America and even trickling over to the UK. The first amendment is supposed to protect the ‘Freedom of the Press’, but when the most powerful man in the world is tweeting almost every day about the credibility of those that cover him, it’s hard to see how this is being protected. This is why Steven Spielberg turned around his new film in 9 months, and it’s exactly the film we need right now.
The Post tells the story of the release of top secret papers relating to the Vietnam War across multiple Presidencies, settling in the early 1970’s and the Nixon administration. The New York Times gets its hands on copies of the papers which call out some pretty horrific decision making by the administration to continue the war in Vietnam and prints it on the front page. The White House take swift action to shut down any more leaks with an injunction that rocks the entire press industry and calls into question whether this can happen, especially with the first amendment in place. The Washington Post, headed up by Tom Hanks’ executive editor Ben Bradlee knows this is a turning point for the press and the role that it plays in society, trying desperately to convince those around him, including Meryl Streep’s Kay Graham (the woman in charge of the whole paper), to push forward with these stories and risk everything for the good of the American people.
The similarities between then and now are insanely uncanny, and shows why this kind of film is needed even in 2018. It’s excellently crafted and beautifully told in a way that captures both the urgency and sometimes rough-cut nature of the newspaper industry, as well as opening up many other conversations including women’s place in a male-dominated world; there’s some gorgeous nuanced shots where Meryl walks through crowds of women and straight back into the jaws of men that need no explaining or comments because it’s still so real today.
The power of the Presidency is felt throughout, from those close to the paper warning Graham that Nixon will use his full force to take down the news, to shots of the president in the Oval Office (which are actually archive recordings of the calls, making it even more sinister). The film engulfs you in this 1970’s world that reminds audiences of this real-world event where the press was called into question, and how they managed to overcome the threats and dangers the executive branch gave over the years.
There is pretty much no misfires in the film. From the gorgeous cinematography, to the authentic screenwriting and the Oscar-worthy performances by Streep and Hanks, it’s a story that feels so relevant to today’s audiences, one of the main reasons Spielberg decided to make both this film and the upcoming Ready Player One. It’s also a story that will spark debate and is already hitting a nerve with some (the White House even asked for a special screening). It is truly the first great film of 2018 and a must see for anyone who’s shocked by the goings on of the current American administration (so basically everyone).