The Post tackles the moral realities of a free press

The film makes a loud statement about the important role of the media in society

(Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

By: Yelin Gemma Lee

The Post is a relevant drama-thriller very similar in both theme and feel to the award-winning film Spotlight — which happens to be one of my favourite movies of all time. Going into this movie, I had high expectations to say the least. Just like Spotlight, The Post tells another huge story — the truth about the US government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. It also has a huge underlying theme of feminism. In the era of Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement and the Trump presidency, this movie hit all the right spots.

     The Post is a film about the first female publisher at a major American newspaper (The Washington Post) being given an ultimatum that involves the potential release of government secrets surrounding the Vietnam War. The notorious Katharine Graham, who is played by the ever-elegant Meryl Streep, inherits the paper after her husband’s suicide, and experiences great difficulty being taken seriously by the council of the paper — who are all men. One of these men is the editor-in-chief of the paper, Ben Bradlee, who is played by the charismatic Tom Hanks. Bradlee works alongside Graham, but there is a lack of understanding on Bradlee’s part that male privilege is a major obstacle for Graham. I loved the weight of the pressure in this film: a moral dilemma is placed before the characters when they are handed government secrets about the Vietnam War, facts that would stop public support for a war that is killing thousands upon thousands of people.

     I’ve never seen a film with such intricate minor characters. My favourite character of the film was actually Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk), who seemed to be the timid, overanxious, and unrecognized hard worker. He ends up having his own storyline behind the scenes which is the sole reason for the movie moving up in my mind from three stars to four. This film brought forth the best character development and underlying plot that I’ve seen in years through Ben Bagdikian, and it infinitely boosted the film’s prestige in my eyes.

     The film started off pretty slow, I’m not going to lie. About halfway through the movie is when you start feeling truly invested, and as the time ticks for their paper’s deadline, you will be holding your breath right alongside Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee. There were some scenes that made me gasp, beat my chest dramatically, and want to scream, “YAS QUEEN!” in the middle of the theatre. This quote (originally said by Hugo Black), and the scene in which it is said, will stay with me for a long time: “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.” I almost fainted. This film was filled with legendary moments and I will forever prize it for that.