Going Postal for the Post
Arts Editor Steph Bennett reviews recent biopic ‘The Post’.
A recently-released film detailing the huge and enduring coverup of The Vietnam War, The Post was a stunning arrangement that boasts not only a star-studded cast, but the incredible true story that journalists still struggle with today: freedom of the press. Meryl Streep was simply stunning in her portrayal of Katherine Graham, the first female publisher of American newspaper, The Washington Post. Set in the early seventies, it details not only the biography of the conspiracy, but also the blatant sexism that underpinned the workplace that Graham had to face.
When The Times faces court action after printing secret governmental documents about the impossibility of winning the war despite the extreme surplus of men and money sent over, The Washington Post faces the decision of whether to continue publishing, which promises to jeopardise the paper. It was astounding to watch, from the private moments of Graham and Bradlee’s lives to their devotion to making the paper a success, the film stood out on all fronts. Tom Hanks starred alongside Streep, and his portrayal of determined editor Ben
Bradlee was impressive. Together, their partnership both as actors and characters was remarkable; and their commitment to the truth and their readers, heartwarming in its determination.
There has, however, been some criticism surrounding this emphasis on sexism, along with condemnation of Streep’s passive characterisation of Graham because of its juxtaposition with Streep’s talent. But it seems only natural that, as a biography, and to accentuate the risk of publishing such scandalous documents because of all Graham had to lose, that Streep’s character would be more submissive than some may have expected.
While Streep’s retaliation against those who doubted her because of her sex was satisfying, it was, admittedly, a little succinct. Yet, it must be remembered that while the paper stays true to the truth, the script remains true to the period.
Perhaps the most striking moment was the stress on writing for the governed and not the governing, on publishing the truth despite the risk because it is right to do so. This is a philosophy that we can all adopt at The Gryphon in our ceaseless task of protecting the best interests of the student body.
(Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox)