The Post is a brilliant movie, but you'll have to work for it.

The Post is a brilliant movie experience… if you know what the heck it’s about.

The Steven Spielberg-helmed movie will take you deep into the beginnings of modern journalism, but it’ll make you work for it.

It won’t, like many movies do, hand you everything you need to know on a glittery, action-packed platter.

To fully immerse yourself in the goodness that is Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks taking on the White House, you’ll have to do bit of research first.

And you’ll need to give yourself a little modern history refresher.

To start with, you’ll need to know that the 1970’s set thriller is about the battle between two great American newspapers… and a not so great American President.

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You’ll also need to know that in 1971 the Washington Post was a struggling local paper not the international, agenda-setting publisher that it is now.

And finally, you’ll need to know that in the early 1970s the Nixon Government ordered a report on the progress of the Vietnam War. That report would detail how the American Government had been lying to public for years and getting deeper and deeper involved in an unwinnable war.

The report would became known as the Pentagon Papers and in 1971 a New York Times journalist named Neil Sheehan would score the biggest scoop of his career.

Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst, frustrated with the Nixon Government’s lack of response to the papers, would leak them – first to the Times and then to 20 other newspapers including the Washington Post, after the Times was issued with an injunction.


That’s where Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks come in.

Streep plays Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post. And Hanks plays her editor.

Graham has inherited the newspaper from her late husband, who was handed the position from her father. Up until this point, Graham had pretty much been a figurehead for the business but wasn’t actually involved in the day-to-day running of the paper.

“Kay throws a great party,” says a colleague in the film. “But her father gave the paper to her husband.”

But by the end of the movie that has changed. Katharine steps up and makes the momentous decision to publish the papers despite the threat of legal action from the White House – and she does it all in a fabulous kaftan.

Newspapers from all over the US then followed suit (probably not while wearing kaftans, obviously) and modern journalism and true freedom of the press was born.

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Tom Hanks has described the movie as the story “about the week Katharine Graham became Katharine Graham”.

With that in mind, The Post is essentially a movie about two things – the fight for freedom of the press and the fight for equality of women in the workplace.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are brilliant in it and by the end of the movie you’ll love it… and maybe even shed a few ‘Oh my God, Meryl Streep is perfect’ tears.

But you do need to go in prepared.

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