This film is a historical piece about government interference with freedom of the press in 1971. The movie has relevance now, due to the way the Trump administration is treating the press. It’s a straight-forward story which is well acted by an excellent ensemble cast. Spielberg does his usual fine job directing. It’s a good movie, but not a great one. I thought “Spotlight” was considerably better.
Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) steals the top-secret “Pentagon Papers” from the Rand Corporation and gives a portion of them to the NY Times, which soon publishes an excerpt. These papers prove that, for years, many Presidential administrations lied to us about Viet Nam. They apparently realized that winning the war was impossible no later than 1965!
The Nixon administration immediately files an injunction against the Times to prevent further disclosures. Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) of the Washington Post figures out Ellsberg is the source for the papers and contacts him. Bagdikian then gets the papers, too, and “The Washington Post” writes one article about them. The Post then get slammed with an injunction too.
Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is the Post’s Publisher, and Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is the Post’s Editor-in-Chief. Both ‘Ben’s very much want Graham to continue to publish articles based on the papers, but, if Graham does so, she risks the Post’s viability as a newspaper. She and other newspaper employees could possibly even go to jail for treason! Graham isn’t respected by some on the Post’s Board of Directors, since she only became the publisher due to her husband’s death. The issue of whether the press can publish, despite the government claiming that releasing the “Pentagon Papers” contents is a grave threat to national security, is almost immediately taken up by the Supreme Court.
The movie tries to be suspenseful, but, since the outcome is known, it is like watching a basketball game on DVR when you already know the final score. Nevertheless, it’s a story worth telling and an enjoyable film, especially for those who are politically inclined. This is why I ‘posted’ “The Post!”