The Post (2018); The Film, The History. 

Walking out of the cinema I wanted to punch the air. If ever you need to feel like you can accomplish anything, just watch this film, you’ll feel invincible!

Spielberg’s 2018 cinematic masterpiece documents the American broadsheet The Washington Post and it’s role in the release of The Pentagon Papers, known more wordily as United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defenses.

If, like me you’re a little shaky on your American Vietnam War history, you will probably at least be aware of the controversy surrounding it’s circumstance. I think most of us are aware that The Washington Post is still an active publication, so although this review will contain spoilers, I think we all know how the film ends.

The Pentagon Papers were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, who had worked on the study, and knew all those involved well. He made copies of the study in 1968, but it wasn’t until the beginning 1971 that he approached The New York Times, who published their first article Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces Three Decades of Growing US Involvement in June of that year. Despite their usual legal council advising against the release of sensitive government information, The Times in-house council deemed it legal, under their First Amendment right to free speech.

After releasing the first article on the papers, a federal injunction was issued, censoring The Times, and preventing them from publishing any further articles on the papers, before the Supreme Court could determine the risk to national security associated with their release. At this point Ellsberg approached his contact at the Washington Post, Ben Bagdikian, and on June 18, 1971 The Washington Post also started publishing their own articles on The Pentagon Papers. This set a precedent to other papers across America who followed their lead, and published their own articles.

8 days later, The Washington Post found themselves facing the Supreme Court alongside their rivals The Times. On June 30th, a divided Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favour of the newspapers and their right to free speech. Ellsberg confessed to leaking the papers, but was cleared of all charges, despite Nixon sending officers to break into his psychiatrists office to gather intel. I assume this was what was hinted at in the final scene of the film.

So, in general the film is fairly true to history! There are of course some dramatic liberties taken, Arthur Parsons (Bradley Whitford) for example was not based on a real person. He was instead a representation of all those who felt a woman could not run a paper. The likelihood that the papers would be subject to the severe punitive measures in The Post is slim, once the papers were out, the damage had been done, it was Daniel Ellsberg who faced prosecution under the espionage act.

The portrayal of Nixon as the villain of the film is the most inaccurate. Nixon was not in office when the study was commissioned. It was the the late JFK who would have looked the fool, Nixon could have looked the hero, releasing this information to the public, it was of course he who ended the Vietnam War. Whilst he should not have ordered the injunction, he did not in fact ban The Washington Post from entering The White House after the release of The Pentagon Papers (that came later in his presidential term).

The cinematography is nothing less than you’d expect from a Spielberg film. The soundtrack, by John Williams, perfectly conveys the uplifting and dramatic nature of the film. With a cast featuring Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Bob Odenkirk, it’s surprising the film only received 2 Oscar Nominations, up for best picture, and Streep nominated for best actress.

My favourite aspect of the film is how effortlessly it highlights the sexist attitudes still present in the ’70s, even in a company headed by a woman. The panning scenes of boardrooms, and the stock exchange dominated by men, barging past her, and refusing to listen to Mrs Graham’s (Meryl Streep) opinions. After their decisive win at the Supreme Court, Mrs Graham is shown walking down the steps, into a throng of cheering women of all ages, the first time in the film the screen has shown a majority of women; a victorious moment. This is a perfect feminist film, suitable even for the family misogynist, because at no point does it feel as though the message is being forced upon you, it is more presented without comment.

Despite its disappointing Academy performance, I believe The Post is one of the best films of the year. I’d love to hear your opinions, comment below, or drop me a message, and don’t forget to follow my social media!


2017 Serpentine Pavilion by Francis Kéré

Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Bjarke Ingels and Ai WeiWei. These are just 3 of the 17 world-renowned artists and architects who have been invited to design a Serpentine Pavilion since the initiative began in 2000, with Hadid’s famous structure.

Every year an architect who is yet to design an England-based project is invited to create a pavilion in Hyde Park, next to the Serpentine Gallery, and this year Francis Kéré joined their ranks.


Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion.

Francis Kéré, who was born in Gando, Burkina Faso in 1965, works for Berlin firm Kéré Architecture. Kéré moved to Berlin to train at the Technical Academy, and has since contributed work to exhibitions at MoMA and Royal Academy, London, as well as solo exhibitions at The Architecture Museum, Munich and The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Over 250,000 architecture enthusiasts visit the pavilion every year, and Bjarke Ingels 2016 structure was one of the Top 10 London Free Exhibitions. After the success and complexity of the 2016 Pavilion, I’d heard from a quite a few friends that this year’s structure fell a little flat, so I have to admit I went in a little skeptical, secretly hoping to be wowed. I wasn’t disappointed!
It is certainly true that the structure itself is fairly simple when looked at as a single entity. But the beauty of the structure I believe comes from the simplicity matched with the balanced detailing. Kéré’s inspiration for the pavilion is drawn from trees. Trees are often a central social hive in Burkina Faso, providing shelter and a social space for residents. The pavilion echos this with its wide blue base and golden canopy that funnels rain water, and shelters those beneath it all made from wood.


Detailing of the wooden panels that make up the base of the pavilion.

I was lucky enough to visit the Pavilion during a torrential rain storm (although it didn’t feel that way at the time, having failed to bring either umbrella or rain coat, thank you English summer). Underneath the canopy is dry, but the design of the roof streams the rain water into a waterfall in the centre of the structure; it is beautifully soporific.

Despite every inch of covered space being filled by patrons sheltering from the rain, having coffee, reading and drinking in the atmosphere, the rain dampens any noise except the waterfall in the middle. The happy shouts of children playing in the rain cut through the quiet, which I’m sure Kéré would love.



An Entrance to the Pavilion

Burkina Faso has one of the worst rates of education and literacy in the world. One of Kére’s projects there was the construction of Gando Primary School, which like the Serpentine Pavilion had a canopy to provide shade, and was designed to allow cool air to circulate throughout the structures. The school was built to house 150 pupils, and now has over 1,000 students!

It is true to say that unlike previous structures this pavilion isn’t designed to wow, or impress, it doesn’t push the boundaries of architecture, and for that it has received criticism. Having said that, I believe it is a great success. It is true to Kéré’s style of architecture, and has succeeded in providing a social area for people to gather and relax in all weather conditions, and for that reason, I really enjoyed it!

The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is open until 8 October 2017, entrance is free. While there it is worth also checking out the Grayson Perry exhibition The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! at the Serpentine Gallery, entrance also free.