It is 1971, and New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan has been given unprecedented access to a 7000-page, top secret US government study heavy with potentially damning secrets.

The document, titled History of US Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-66, was originally prepared under then US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara in 1967.

The New York Times publishes sections of what becomes known to the world as The Pentagon Papers, detailing a shady history of assassinations, violations of the Geneva Convention, fixed elections and lies to congress.

Despite a court-ordered publishing injunction against the Times, conscience and the desire to uphold freedom of the press drive Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and her editor Ben Bradlee to consider publishing sections of the papers.

In deciding to publish, Graham will risk the future of the newspaper, the freedom and livelihoods of her and her staff, and her powerful political friendships.

Steven Spielberg brings an enthralling and dramatic treatment of this true story to cinema screens with The Post, his first new film as director since 2015’s Bridge of Spies.

For The Post, Spielberg and veteran casting director Ellen Lewis assembled a superb cast, many part of the U.S. television renaissance or Broadway actors.

Central to the ensemble are Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, first female publisher of the Washington Post, lacking confidence but strong in her convictions, and Tom Hanks as hardened, cynical editor Ben Bradlee.

Liz Hannah and Josh Singer’s dense, intriguing script, along with John Williams’ suitably dramatic score, provide a solid foundation on which the cast work their craft. The Post comes at a time when it could not be more relevant, given the film’s theme of freedom of the press under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and its parallels with Trump’s America.

A stark reminder of what can go on behind closed doors when politics, money and power are involved, The Post is in cinemas now.

Readers also enjoyed this review of Murder on the Orient Express.

 

 

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