Spielberg, genius and figure (I)

Por: Ronald Antonio Ramírez


When asked if the attitude of Daniel Ellberg, the official who stole secret U.S. government documents about the Vietnam War, can somehow be considered a “precursor” gesture of Snowden’s decision, Spielberg reacted with a rather conservative response. In his view, it seemed not to see that the attitude of the former – according to MacNamara’s report, to stop a war that both the Pentagon and the CIA knew lost from the outset – did not distinguish much, in essence, from the second’s intention to avoid the illegal espionage procedures that the United States employs not only against allied foreigners or enemies , but also against the Americans themselves, thus violating the constitutional prerogatives of the First Amendment. Perhaps Spielberg intended to evade any kind of political commitment, beyond the repercussions of his latest film, with alleged criticism of current President Trump. In the end, fiction is just that, even though the story of his film, written by a rookie, Liz Hannah, and the already experienced Josh Singer, is inspired by the truth events that several decades ago catalyzed the Nixon administration’s decline and its resignation after the Watergate scandal.


Perhaps for this reason The Post: the dark secrets of the Pentagon have a certain sentimental look at the past, between the nostalgic and the sweetened, where what matters is to slip a very subtle reminder to those who today intend to dictate the designs of the world. But let us agree that Spielberg does so with a firm pulse – in spite of everything – to “refresh the memory” of those who lived through the nightmare that made possible the notoriety of a simple local newspaper and its owner in the world of American journalism; and also make Trump recognize himself in the image of Nixon, a character presented with intentional nuance of caricature.
The Post… it raises an apology to the rule of law, the free press and other secular items of American pride that since the Declaration of Independence erects the United States in the territory “defender and champion of democracy”. The intransigence of the celebrated Bren Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and his axiom “the only way to defend the right to publish is by publishing”, sums up the drama of this film that was painted white in the last nonasima edition of the Oscars, while its director was off the list of best performers, despite a candidacy for the Golden Globes of which he was also overlooked.
However, this new title is good within the current AMERICAN socio-political situation. Its ideological core shows with mesured didactism the crusade that undertakes the truth as it undoes a path of fallacy and political manipulation, with the risk of fending before the law in the hand of despotism. And in the midst of this battle, filming allows other incentives to support women’s vindication in a world of patriarchal hegemony that recriminates and underestimates their potential, held by secular tradition into domestic space. With The Post…, Spielberg’s poetry returns to the aesthetics of that “serious” cinema, of historical-political theme, which would return to ante-riores titles of recent years – Munich (2005), Lincoln (2012), The Bridge of Spies (2016)– to address, very few like him, current affairs from a retrospective perspective and also rehearse, hic et nunc, a powerful lesson in ethics.
I do not believe that there is another film made by this director that finds it necessary to have a lengthy introduction to immerse ourselves in the constraints of the dramatic conflict – the American occupation in Vietnam, the Ellberg rapporteur as a political analyst and adviser to Secretary of State McNamara, the manipulation of public opinion on the veracity of events, the limited chances of the United States winning the war and the theft of classified documents , etc.–; almost forty minutes to complete its takeoff and place in its spotlight two life stories intrinsically related to power. It is this, in my opinion, the strangest thing about the film; but what appears to be at the risk of monotony, ends up revealing the mesura of his extreme planning to bring the story to a happy end.
The viewer warns of a necessary contextualization that tries to calar, in its most expeditious details, the political nebula of an era where not only important battles were fought in the Vietnamese jungles, but also within casablanca and the Pentagon. The Post… it illustrates the ins and outs of rhetoric that, over time, began to be dynamited by those who had just made possible the pro-war campaigns that manipulated American and global public opinion. It is also, among other things, a film that says its panegyric to strengthening the fourth power in the American nation.
Despite its exquisite bill, The Post… just confirms what was already known: Spielberg is still an old wolf, still right-handed, who avoids the risk in his expertise to drag emotions. The grammar of this film follows together the classic Aristotelian didactism to place, at the epicentre of his drama, life stories in conflict with power, with the startle of an atmosphere of uncertainties and dangers in his visual strategy of claroscuros – a political thriller with asomos al noir American of the seventies and spy cinema on Cold War issues – and a sound design that revitalizes the expressiveness of a choreographic calligraphy that contagion, meanwhile, to the direction of actors. Because deep down, The Post… it is also a film of characters, of psychological densities that overpese the differences and complements of personalities that embody two colossus of today’s American cinema.
Kate (Meryl Streep) and Bradlee (Tom Hanks) are characters designed in the antipodes. In them, excessiveness and eating dictate their behavioral modes, imbricated in drama in parallel, until the script chooses to cross them to highlight the subtle divergences of their characters. Each, in its own way, participates in an internal growth process, whether professionally or personally, in the skein of pitfalls that come, as qualifying evidence, in the dramatic fabric. Kate, as owner of the Post, is aware of her insecurities and inexperience at the helm of the newspaper’s management; Bradlee is fed up with his expertise as editor-in-chief and commanding ability in the reporters group. The film’s narrative program makes these aspects clear as it sets out the guidelines that will lead both characters, despite their initial disagreements, to the necessary complementarity that will allow them to overcome the final test.
The Post… he lectures on his camera movements – always restless, intriguing – while prefering to unrament the hectic scene of journalistic writing; records the tireless pounding of old typewriters as if doing so with the nostalgia of those who evoke epic time. The intrigues between rotations for taking over the national public attention and adrenaline exacerbating the hunt for the latest news, while promoting espionage, calls at midnight and the divergences against financial power held by private banking and advertisers, breathes much of Spielberg’s genius that remains one of the most important directors of universal filmography of recent times. The interest in his film is precisely the fascination with which his narrative rigor follows those twists of biopic, suspense and political thriller, as long as his characters enlist in the struggle between Good and Evil, David’s classic myth against the giant, as true heroes of a war story.
Critics have rightly seen how much this film follows the line of some memorable titles about investigative journalism, and mainly Alan J. Pakula’s All The President’s Men (1976). It is also not impossible to forget the most recent Spotlight (2015), awarded with that year’s Oscar. It may have been the latter, still very fresh in the memory of the decision-making rooms of the Hollywood Academy, a heavy motive that prevented the decision to overlook Spielberg’s film. In all these films, the portrait of American journalism agrees with a Manichean discourse and, for obvious reasons, shows its more docile side. Although it does not live up to Pakula’s iconic realization, The Post: The Dark Secrets of the Pentagon ends just where the Pentagon begins, and despite the distance between the dates of making each other, Spielberg’s film is a kind of curious “prequel” to the previous one, with that final note five in which its director seems to release , drawing on the lessons of history, a couple of bold warnings to those who, from power, try to hinder press freedom, in the manner of the “good” friend who does not wish not to find guilty. Ω

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