When American military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, realizes to his disgust the depths of the US government's deceptions about the futility of the Vietnam War, he takes action by copying top-secret documents that would become the Pentagon Papers. Later, Washington Post owner, Kay Graham, is still adjusting to taking over her late husband's business when editor Ben Bradlee discovers the New York Times has scooped them with an explosive expose on those papers. Determined to compete, Post reporters find Ellsberg himself and a complete copy of those papers. However, the Post's plans to publish their findings are put in jeopardy with a Federal restraining order that could get them all indicted for Contempt. Now, Kay Graham must decide whether to back down for the safety of her paper or publish and fight for the Freedom of the Press. In doing so, Graham and her staff join a fight that would have America's democratic ideals in the balance.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
This is Liz Hannah's first produced screenplay which was picked up as a spec script on the Black List website by producer Amy Pascal. See more »
When Bob Haldeman calls Katharine Graham, he tells her that "...we have a bit of an issue here." The colloquial misuse of "issue" to mean "problem" did not begin to become normalized in American English until the late 1980s/early 1990s. See more »
If the government wins and we're convicted, the Washington Post as we know it will cease to exist.
Well, if we live in a world where the government could tell us what we can and cannot print, then the Washington Post as we know it has already ceased to exist.
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The 20th Century Fox logo is shown, but we do not hear the usual fanfare. Instead, we just hear the sound effects of the action in Vietnam which leads into the first scene of the film. See more »
a true story showing why the media is despised by despots
The term 'fourth estate' was coined in 1841 by philosopher Thomas Carlyle when he said that the Reporter's Gallery was far more important than the 'three estates' of parliament. This titbit of history tells us the battle lines over 'fake news' are as old as 'the press' itself. It is also the context for The Post (2017), a dramatic thriller and civics lesson about the media's role in checking government power. The Post shows why the media is despised by despots and is thus essential viewing for anyone wanting to better understand today's shambolic attacks on the media.
The facts of the story became world news. By the mid-1960s, most Americans were losing faith in the nation's prospects of an honourable conclusion to three decades of conflict in Vietnam. While various Presidents told Americans that success was assured, the top-secret Pentagon Papers revealed that national policy was based on a litany of lies. Former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg notoriously leaked the Papers to the New York Times, but publication was suppressed by court order. The rival Washington Post acquired a copy and had to decide whether to publish and risk the paper's future, or not publish and lose the respect of its journalists.
A dramatic high-tension wire is strung between Post heiress and socialite Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) and her hard-core news editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). They are polar opposites: she is a darling of the establishment, uncertain of her ability and fearful of losing not only the business but her social standing. Bradlee is a truth-seeking journalist who mistrusts lawyers and would publish at any cost. Described as "the most highly classified documents of the war", the President commands an army of lawyers threatening Armageddon if the paper goes to print. The film's period set design is brilliant: the reporter's room is a galley of buzzing typewriters and the printing press a mechanical maze of oiled steel grinding out papers in a frantic atmosphere of unrelenting deadlines. Against this background, the pre-feminist newspaper owner must make a decision that could bring down a President. When the choice is made, the Post must then face presidential retaliation via the Supreme Court.
This story requires no narrative embellishment, nor does it need dramatic performances to convey the high-stakes of an extraordinary moment. The casting of stars and support is excellent. Streep and Hanks give their most understated performances of recent times; no other contemporary actors could have filled these roles with their authority and authenticity. Spielberg's direction keeps the events unfolding at a brisk pace to leverage the tension curve upwards while sticking close to the facts. This is masterful storytelling based on an important event that resonates into the modern era.
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