Film – The Post
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks
Genre: Mild mannered super men (and women)
In any other (Academy Awards) year, The Post would be just another hard-hitting quality film about investigative journalism and political cover-ups. There’s been plenty of them over time, including some that are even better than The Post, such as Citizen Kane (1941), All the President’s Men (1976) and Spotlight (2015).
But while The Post may not be the best of its type, all good films in any genre shine a torch on contemporary issues. The timing of The Post is deliberate and elevates its importance – and why it will probably win many Oscars.
Donald Trump will hate The Post. It concerns investigations by the New York Times and the Washington Post (mostly the latter) of US government Vietnam War cover-ups documented in the leaked Pentagon Papers and the decisions to publish despite great risk taken by the Post’s proprietor (Kay Graham, Streep as extraordinary as always) and editor (Ben Bradlee, Hanks as Hanks as always). With its core messages of “real” news, quality journalism and equality of the sexes, The Post is unashamedly left-wing and anti-Trump. It’s ultimately all wrapped up in the American flag, this is a Spielberg film after all, but not overly so.
The Post is also a fascinating insight into the changing nature of journalism and newspaper publishing, before word processors, blogs, click-bait, Fox News and Breitbart. Quality journalism equaled profitability in 1971 (a point made repeatedly in the film) and newspapers were still made manually with blocks and typesetters. The value of journalists seems diminished in contemporary news publishing. The Post demonstrates why they should be valued as highly as ever or they will go the way of the typesetter, and everyone, except maybe the Donald Trumps of the world, will be the poorer for it.
Rating: Four typewriters