You probably know the story - if you don’t, you’re probably too young (or perhaps you just don’t care about political integrity?). Either way, with President Trump currently in ‘post’, it comes as a timely ode to investigative journalism!
The film centres on The Washington Post’s battle to expose a massive cover up of government secrets relating to the Vietnam War that spanned three decades and for presidents (and, somewhat disturbingly, is effectively a prequel to the Watergate scandal – which started in 1972 and lead to President Nixon’s resignation in 1974).
It’s set in 1971 (the Pentagon Papers are a history of the United States' political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967, compiled by the US Department of Defence) and is a brilliant, stirring defence of press freedom. Of course, we all know the outcome and so we can watch all the drama unfolding knowing it’ll all-come-right-in-the-end! Streep and Hanks are predictably excellent in their respective roles (perhaps not that difficult, given the storyline?). It’s also a reminder about how sexist the world of big business really was in the early 1970s - again and again, Streep is the only woman in a room full of besuited men.
Essentially, it’s a powerful and timely film about idealism set against pragmatism… standing up for what’s right against huge odds.
This afternoon’s cinema audience thoroughly approved… and there was much mocking laughter when, at the end of the film, we see a silhouetted Richard Nixon pacing the White House seeking to use the authority of his office to hobble the free press – telling one of his underlings by telephone to exclude absolutely ANYONE connected with the Washington Post from the White House in future… oh the irony!PS: Good article/interview with Steven Spielberg by Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian.