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.
The Post is a 2017 American political thriller film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer. It stars Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee, with Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Carrie Coon, and Matthew Rhys in supporting roles. Set in the early 1970s, The Post depicts the true story of The Washington Post journalists and their attempts to publish the Pentagon Papers, classified documents regarding the 30-year involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War.
About the Story
In 1966 Vietnam, State Dept. military analyst Daniel Ellsberg accompanies U.S. troops in combat, documenting the progress of U.S. military activities in the region for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. On the return flight home, McNamara expresses to Ellsberg and President Lyndon Johnson his view that the war in Vietnam is hopeless, yet upon landing, McNamara expresses his confidence in the war effort. Ellsberg overhears this and becomes disillusioned. Years later, now working for a civilian military contractor, the RAND Corporation, Ellsberg surreptitiously photocopies classified reports documenting the progress of the ongoing Vietnam War, dating back to the Truman administration. He then leaks these documents to reporters at The New York Times.
Newspaper heiress Katharine Graham tries to balance her social life with her responsibility as owner and publisher of The Washington Post following the demise of her husband and her father. She is conflicted over preparations for the newspaper’s IPO, a move she recognizes as important for strengthening the paper. She lacks experience and is frequently “overruled” by more assertive men who advise or work for her, such as editor in chief Ben Bradlee and board member Arthur Parsons. Bradlee tries in vain to catch up with The New York Times ability to scoop headline stories. Meanwhile, McNamara, Graham’s longtime friend, confides to her that he is about to be the subject of unflattering coverage by the Times. This turns out to be an exposé of the government’s long-running deception of the American public. However the series is halted by a court injunction against further publication by the Times.
Post assistant editor Ben Bagdikian tracks down Ellsberg as the source for the leak, who provides Bagdikian with copies of the same material given to the Times. A hand-picked team of Post reporters sort through the piles of papers looking for the headline stories. The Post’s lawyers advise against publishing the material, lest the Nixon administration bring criminal charges against them. Graham conducts interviews with McNamara, Bradlee, and trusted Post chairman Fritz Beebe, agonizing over the decision of whether to publish. If the legal fallout goes badly, she could destroy the newspaper she sees as a family legacy. However, if it wins any legal challenge, she could instead establish the Post as an important journalistic institution. She chooses to run the story.
The Post (2017)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Alison Brie, Jesse Plemons, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Zach Woods, John Rue
Screenplay by: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Production Design by: Rick Carter
Cinematography by: Janusz Kaminski
Film Editing by: Sarah Broshar, Michael Kahn
Costume Design by: Ann Roth
Set Decoration by: Rena DeAngelo
Art Direction by: Kim Jennings, Deborah Jensen
Music by: John Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and brief war violence.
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox (United States), Universal Pictures (International)
Release Date: December 22, 2017