“The Post’s” accolades derived from more than the satisfying aesthetic of a newsroom, the expertise of director Steven Spielberg and the fact that the two lead actors combine for a total of 25 Academy Award nominations (though they all help). Instead, the period drama shined in its subtleties.
“The Post” follows Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, and Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks, throughout the process of publishing classified military documents about the United States government’s actions in the Vietnam War─ documents that later became infamously known as the “Pentagon Papers.”
Despite what Streep’s outspoken feminism and the film’s press suggests, Katharine is a smart, timid woman with power and influence trying to exist in a man’s world all without sacrificing her femininity.
Throughout the film, Katharine balks at breaking from the comfort of conventionalism. She lets her male colleagues speak over her, present her ideas as their own and usurp the very hierarchy that they had benefited from.
Ultimately, Katharine accepts her power and decides to run the story despite the limiting roles of her gender and the fear of not only losing her family’s newspaper, but of being imprisoned for violating the Espionage Act by none other than the Supreme Court.
How Katharine comes to this brave choice to risk her livelihood for the people is more important than the fact did. Katharine sits on her sleeping granddaughter’s bed with her daughter agonizing over whether to run the story until she remembers when her daughter gave her the courage to speak at her first board meeting. Here, in the presence of three generations of women and not alone in a room full of men, Katharine musters the same courage to risk everything.
Even the way that she agrees to publish breaks from the typical strong female character. In her most feminine, glittering gown, Katharine stammers out a fragmented “okay” three times before giving Ben the coherent go ahead to publish. Many other films would have had her deliver a cold, singular “go” while she wears pants for the first time.
Additionally, the camera looks up at Katharine for the first time in the whole film, presenting her at a heroic and powerful angle while the men who pressured her not to publish are shot from above, making them look small, powerless and even like dogs with their tails between their legs.
This portrayal of Katharine presents a more fundamentally feminist hero than many of the “strong women” to come before it.
As the credits rolled, two elderly women in the theatre applauded and noted with a sort of revere that they lived through that─ the restrictive norms, the war and the historic decision.
Maybe it was this comment, maybe it was nostalgia or maybe it was us remembering what we’re made of and, more importantly, the sacrifices of those who came before us that brought tears to my eyes.
While the film’s setting dates back roughly four decades, it reflects contemporary fears as something once as concrete as a fact is questioned and threatened. This film serves as a reminder that the integrity of the presidency means little when the president acts without integrity.
Overall, I give “The Post” a 5/5 rating
Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.