Showing posts with label historical movie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label historical movie. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Reviewing the Movie The Post

Based on real events

newspaper post
Newspaper post image from Pixabay.com
My husband and I recently watched the movie The Post directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. I would like to review it for you this morning. Let me just start off with saying that I am shocked that it did not receive any academy awards. It was nominated but was shunned at the ceremony for the Oscars. 

The movie is based on actual events in our nation's history. In my humble opinion those events were quite significant and often overlooked in society today. Basically the story is about the battle between the press and our government over what is allowed to be published for the public to read and what should be suppressed from being printed. The battle at the time was over whether newspapers had a right to publish classified documents showing the shady and deceitful decisions of our government concerning Viet Nam. The documents became known as The Pentagon Papers. These classified documents spanned four decades documenting the government's real involvement in Southeast Asia and how they had lied to the American people. These papers were first leaked to the New York Times and later to the Washington Post. 

At the time, the Washington Post was owned by Katharine Graham. This was 1971 when Graham was not just the only woman publisher of a newspaper but the very first woman to run a large newspaper in the United States. The movie shows quite accurately the general opinion of most men that a woman was not capable of running a business. It was a different time with very different viewpoints about the capability of the female population. Those of us who were young women at the time will be able to relate to how Katharine was treated and talked to back then. 

The Pentagon Papers revealed to the American public that our government had lied to them. They had interfered in elections in South Viet Nam, had continued to send our boys over there even when they knew that there was no way that the war could be won or ended. Obviously, the government did not want the public to know about any of this and when the Times published the first installments of the papers the Nixon Administration slapped an injunction on them to cease and desist. The Washington Post now had copies of the classified documents and Katharine had to decide whether to publish or bury it. Her advisers, board members and bankers were telling her to not publish but her heart and her instincts couldn't follow that advice. She was a very courageous woman! 

The case of government vs the press was decided by the Supreme Court. In a 6-3 decision the court upheld the freedom of the press protected by our forefathers in the Constitution. Some of the justices sitting on the court felt that something like this was exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they added that first amendment preventing the government from interfering with distribution of information and opinions. 

This movie relating an historical event that I actually lived through, moved me in many different ways. I actually want to watch it again. It brought back so many memories of those events and times. I sincerely think that this movie is important for young people to watch. My generation was being put down at the time for questioning the motives of our government; turns out we had a right to question. From an historical perspective, it is important that the younger generations get a feel for where we were and how far we have come. 

I highly recommend The Post to you. If you are my age, you will most likely remember this time in 1971. If you are younger, you should know about this time in our country. 




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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bridge of Spies Movie Review

"Bridge of Spies" movie review, starring Tom Hanks. The movie is suspenseful, historically significant, a thriller that held my attention all the way through. Here are my top 3 impressions.
My husband and I went to the movies last weekend to see "Bridge of Spies." We don't go out to see movies very often, but this one attracted both of us, my husband because of the Cold War era setting (1957-1962), me because of the spy story. Other than knowing that the movie was inspired by actual events and that Tom Hanks was the star, I knew very little about it. I learned a lot during the 142 minutes we watched and that's what I want to talk about in this review.

There were a number of young people in the audience and by "young people" I mean teenage boys (Saturday night, $3 movie). There were a few old mature baby boomer-era folks like us, but most members of the audience were too young to remember first-hand much about the Cold War. As I watched and the story unfolded, I found myself wondering how much of this history the audience had ever read about, learned about in school, or knew about at all, and how they felt about the movie, the story, the characters, the historical significance, as the story was revealed.

"Bridge of Spies" tells the real-life story that centers around attorney James Donovan (Tom Hanks) and his role in defending accused (and widely presumed guilty) Russian spy Rudolf Abel, as well as Donovan's role as civilian negotiator, recruited by the CIA and tasked with securing the release of captured American U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers. Those two events become entwined in a tale of patriotism, duty, character, and the sanctity of the United States Constitution, the likes of which was impressive, to say the least.

It's hard to talk about the movie without giving away much of the story, so I'll focus on three impressions that I took from the film and try to avoid spoilers.

Berlin Wall, eastgerman border guard looks at the Kubat-Dreieck, July 1st 1988
Berlin Wall, East German border guard
looks at the 
Kubat-Dreieck, July 1st 1988
First was the representation of the city of Berlin, where construction of the infamous wall dividing East from West was being completed as Donovan arrived to negotiate Powers' release. Today many of us remember that wall in its later life, graffiti covered and coming down in pieces following the urging of President Ronald Reagan. The movie gave a taste of how horrifying life actually was on the east side of that wall for the honest-to-goodness human beings who lived, and tried to escape from, there. As I watched the movie, that part of history really came alive to me and affected me as no history textbook ever did.  

My second impression is that, while there were humorous moments, there was a little more laughter in the theater than I thought appropriate. That brings me back to the audience. I almost wish I could have done a quick exit interview with some of the movie-watchers to ask how they liked the movie and what about it impressed them the most. I really hope some of the young people in the audience will remember the film as they study the post-World War II period in history class. I wish I would have appreciated my world history class more, 'way back when I was in high school, still in the midst of the Cold War years.

Third, and perhaps the impression that is most important to me, was the character of James Donovan. This was a man who stuck with his principles unwaveringly, going above and beyond, doing the right thing not only when his own reputation as well as his patriotism were questioned by friends, neighbors, and coworkers, but also when his wife's and children's very lives were threatened. I'm not sure what drove James Donovan, but how impactful his actions must have been to his children and even to his neighbors once his task involving Gary Powers was revealed!

I recently read a movie review by friend and fellow reviewer Cynthia in which she gave the movie a low rating in large part because the writers strayed so far off the real-life incident on which that particular movie was based. That got me thinking and wondering how accurate "Bridge of Spies" is, in relation, especially, to the portrayal of James Donovan. So I went looking and quickly found this article from Forbes which confirmed that screenwriter Matt Charman felt "just how important it was to tell this story right and do justice to everyone involved." He also confirms in his interview, regarding the Donovan family at the movie premiere, "... their reaction was the most wonderful review you could ever get and I feel proud we put the real man up there." I was very happy to read those words.

The movie is suspenseful, historically significant, a thriller that held my attention all the way through. Based on my impressions from watching the movie and what I have since read about the real events, I give this movie 9 stars out of 10 and highly recommend it for families including children over age 13 (based on the intensity of the subject).

"Bridge of Spies" stars Tom Hanks, directed by Steven Spielberg. Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor, Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel. Release date: October 16, 2015. DVD release date February 2, 2016.

Enjoy this trailer:



LINKS:
Recommended Reading: Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers by James Donovan (#1 NYT Bestseller)

Buy or Rent "Bridge of Spies" from:
Family Video
Walmart
Amazon

Photo Attribution: Berlin Wall Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

~Susan
Meet the Reviewer




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.