Monday, February 5, 2018
OSCARS 2018: The Post (2017)
The Post.” The director's latest drama could not come at a more pertinent time. A historical story about a government eager to censor and control the free press was seemingly tailor made for the era of Fake News.
The time is the late sixties and America's involvement in the Vietnam War continues to drag on. After witnessing the war firsthand, analyst Daniel Ellsberg learns the U.S. Government believes the war is unwinnable. In 1972, he leaks a copy of these reports to the New York Times. The Nixon administration, incensed by this breech of security, forbids any other paper from publishing the report. After reporters at the Washington Post receive a copy of the Pentagon Papers, the Times' owners and editors – Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee – have to make a tricky decision. Do they defy the government, putting their entire paper at risk, in order to get the truth out to the public?
Sony purchased “The Post's” screenplay in October of 2016, a few weeks before a failed steak salesman conned his way into the presidency. Despite obviously being written before 45 came to power, “The Post” can't help but come off as a statement on this ridiculous mess we as a country are now in. Richard Nixon hated the press because he was a paranoid control freak who saw enemies everywhere. Donald Trump hates the press because they hurt his big boy feelings. Either way, the comparison is made clear in a scene where Nixon's hatred of the press is explained to Graham. “The Post's” celebration of how important it is for the press to challenge a corrupt government is almost sappy. John Williams' score soars with powerful strings and sweeping melodies. The movie's final scene put almost too fine a point on Nixon's downfall. Still, it's a statement that needs to be said, now more than ever.
Despite being in his seventies now, Spielberg's cinematic energy hasn't slowed down any. “The Post's” visual construction is zippy and quick, almost frantic at times. Spielberg's camera frequently slides through the offices and editor's rooms key to the story. In one moment, his camera even leaps back and forth between two men having a conversation. Instead of coming off as choppy, this style emphasizes how little time everyone has to make their decisions. Once “The Post” picks up speed, it rarely slows down. This is also seen in its resolution, where the court case against the newspaper is dismissed over the course of a single, short scene.