Before Steven Spielberg introduces the world to his virtual-reality epic Ready Player One, he is treating us with his latest movie The Post. The movie, set to release on 22 December, has been directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the leading roles.
Set in the year 1971, The Post is a movie based on the predicament faced by the Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham (played by Streep) as she tries to turn the local newspaper into a paper of national importance. The New York Times grabbed everyone’s attention in 1971 after they published some of the Pentagon Papers. (The Pentagon Papers are decades’ worth of internal communications about the Vietnam War that were stolen and copied by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg; played by Matthew Rhys). It is now Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) who has to make the final decision on whether or not to publish sections of the Pentagon Papers. This is a tough decision to make as the Nixon government bars The New York Times from further publishing the Pentagon Papers by claiming a threat to national security.
The Pentagon Papers showed that the American government knew as early as 1965 that the Vietnam war was unwinnable but kept sending American soldiers to Southeast Asia to kill and get killed. The Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (played by Tom Hanks) desperately wants the Pentagon Papers to be published, and even more so when The New York Times gets a head start on them. The Post is a story about journalistic ethics, the battle between free speech and government diktats, and about the landmark judgement delivered by the American Supreme Court in safeguarding freedom of the press and the First Amendment.
Spielberg read Liz Hannah’s screenplay for The Post (this is her first screenplay) and immediately decided to make the movie. He asked Josh Singer, who won an Academy Award for another journalistic movie Spotlight, to revise the screenplay. Spielberg’s first choices were Oscar winners Hanks and Streep. This is the first time that Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks have come together onscreen for a movie collaboration. This is the fifth time Tom Hanks has collaborated with Steven Spielberg. The Post also stars Alison Brie, Jesse Plemons, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson and Tracy Letts among others.
The Post is an essential release in current times. American President Donald Trump’s constant battle with the media (The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN) and his repetition of the term “Fake News” for media reports he deems damaging to his reputation, makes the timing of The Post‘s release perfect. It’s a story of publishers and editors taking the difficult decision of not complying with the government’s wishes and doing what they believe is right. It will be an engaging watch; especially with Spielberg’s alluring direction and Hanks’ and Streep’s powerful, nonchalant performance.