The Post Parent Guide
This taut drama brings history to life with great performances.
Parent Movie Review
It’s 1971. The Vietnam War is raging aboard. And protesters are raging at home. President Richard Nixon presides from the White House. And Katharine Graham has taken over her late husband’s position as publisher of The Washington Post.
The lengthy battle is not winning any popularity contests for Nixon (played by Curzon Dobell). And being a woman in a man’s world is challenging for Graham (played by Meryl Streep), who is struggling to turn her local rag into a national newspaper.
Enter the Pentagon Papers. Frustrated with the political rhetoric of leaders like the Secretary of State Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood), a military analyst named Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) wants the American people to know what is really happening with the conflict overseas. Secretly he photocopies a classified study from the Department of Defense, and offers it to Neil Sheehan (Justin Swain) a journalist at The New York Times.
When the first article of a planned series appears on the front page of The Times, Nixon orders the Attorney General to issue a restraining order to halt any more coverage. He asserts going public with the top-secret document will put the security of the USA at risk. Along with concluding the Vietnam War is unwinnable, the damning data (which was collected from1945 to 1967) reveals America’s meddling in the Asian country’s political and military affairs through four administrations (Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson).
Over at The Post, editor Ben Bradlee (played by Tom Hanks) sees an opportunity, not just to serve their readers, but to put their paper on the map. After his staffers find the source of the leaked report, he implores Graham to print the information – even though doing so will make enemies, most likely put the company in jeopardy and perhaps land himself and Graham in jail.
Given what we now know about the disgraced Nixon administration, the script’s bias towards The Post’s worthy goals is understandable. From the newsroom to the Supreme Court, it depicts the importance of the freedom of the press in keeping a democratic system in check. As well, it shows the personal courage it can take to uphold those higher values. Although the language gets heated at times, and the film includes some images of soldiers being shot, wounded and killed, this story is still timely and powerful.
In the world of 2017, accusations of fake news abound, while other leaders face issues of obstructing justice. (These parallels with the past appear to be part of the reason why director Steven Spielberg took on this project.) Regardless of political loyalties, it is important to remember both governments and journalists need to be held accountable for their actions. Citizens also have a responsibility to be informed, because knowing and acting on truth are essential to maintaining a free and just society.
PS: On June 12, 1972, The Washington Post published a story about a burglary that occurred in the Democratic National Committee Office. Amidst more government criticism, Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee supported their reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, as they investigated what would become known as the Watergate Scandal.Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks. Running time: 115 minutes. Theatrical release January 12, 2018. Updated January 11, 2018
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Post rated PG-13? The Post is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for language and brief war violence.Violence:Soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War are depicted in combat with gunfire and explosions. Men are shot, wounded and killed: some blood and corpses are shown. Characters talk about family members who are serving in the military, and mention some who have died. A man steals secret files from his office and turns copies of them over to the press. Derogatory comments are made about President Nixon and his administration. Characters narrowly miss being hit by a car. Protestors demonstrate against the war. Characters are threatened with court action and the possibility of prison time. Female characters are treated disrespectfully by males. Bullying and pressure from authority figures are depicted. Characters lie or misrepresent truth. A suicide is mentioned.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: One use of the sexual expletive in a non-sexual context. Frequent use of mild and moderate profanity, scatological slang and terms of deity as expletives. Infrequent use of crude anatomical terms. Limited use of slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Cigarette and cigar smoking are shown frequently. Alcohol is consumed at dinners and social events.
Page last updated January 11, 2018
More parents' guide for The Post after the break...
The Post Parents' Guide
In this movie, the characters discuss what they are willing to do to stop the war. How do you feel about whistleblowers? What price might they pay for their actions? What risks would you be willing to take if you were in their situation?
What reason does Daniel Ellsberg’s character give for the continuation of the Vietnam War? Do you think that pride played a part in leaders’ decisions? What do you think would be worthy reasons to fight in a foreign conflict?
Katharine Graham is accused of not wanting to print negative stories about people who are her friends. Is that fair? Did Ben Bradlee also associate with influential people? Why is it difficult to remain unbiased when reporting on the actions of someone you know well? Is it unethical to sharing private information about them? Or is it unethical not to share information that would be in the publics’ best interest to disclose? Do you think that some of Katharine and Ben’s powerful acquaintances also took advantage of their position as members of the media to try and influence the way their stories we covered?
Learn more about Stephen Speilberg’s political motives for directing this film.
News About "The Post"
The Post opens in limited release on December 22, 2017. It expands to more theaters on January 12, 2018.
This movie is based on the challenges faced when The New York Times and The Washington Post attempted to publish the Pentagon Papers, a leaked, top-secret document from the US Department of Defense about the county's political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.
The first problem was the government preferred not to have this information in the public eye. The second was, the fight to secure the right for freedom of the press fell to a woman: Katharine Graham. Taking over her late husband's position as The Post's publisher, Katharine persisted in breaking the news to the public despite pressure from the government and sexual discrimination. (Learn more in her autobiography, Personal History.)
Working at her side was executive editor Ben Bradlee. The pair would later work together to break the Watergate Scandal.
In this film, Meryl Streep plays Graham, and Tom Hanks stars as Bradlee. The movie opens to a public that is being inundated by claims of fake news and other rebuttals to the credibility of governments and modern journalism.