Thirteen DaysJanuary 12, 2001
A dramatization of President Kennedy's administration's struggle to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962.
Release Year: 2000
Rating: 7.2/10 (28,184 voted)
Critic's Score: 67/100
Stars: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Shawn Driscoll
In October, 1962, U-2 surveillance photos reveal that the Soviet Union is in the process of placing nuclear weapons in Cuba. These weapons have the capability of wiping out most of the Eastern and Southern United States in minutes if they become operational. President John F. Kennedy and his advisors must come up with a plan of action against the Soviets. Kennedy is determined to show that he is strong enough to stand up to the threat, and the Pentagon advises U.S. military strikes against Cuba–which could lead the way to another U.S. invasion of the island. However, Kennedy is reluctant to follow through, because a U.S. invasion could cause the Soviets to retaliate in Europe. A nuclear showdown appears to be almost inevitable. Can it be prevented?
Writers: David Self, Ernest R. May
Kenny O'Donnell, Jr.
NPIC Photo Interpreter
John F. Kennedy
Kenny's Assistant #1
You'll Never Believe How Close We Came
Release Date: 12 January 2001
Filming Locations: Alhambra, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $46,668
(25 December 2000)
(1 April 2001)
Did You Know?
In Boston, Kevin Costner's attempt at a Boston accent is so notorious that a "Kevin Costner accent" is an accepted slang term for a non-Bostonian's unsuccessful attempt at a Boston accent.
Boom mic visible:
Throughout the film, specially during scenes taking place in the Oval Office and other indoor takes, microphone booms are repeatedly seen.
[about evacuation plans for their family in the event of a missile attack]
They're being issued identity cards. When the call comes, the evacuation officers meet them at pre-arranged departure areas. They go by helicopter to Mount Weather; we meet them there… Of course, that's for morale. Missiles only take five minutes to get here.
Thrilling Examination Of A Tense Moment In History
The fact of JFK's assassination, and especially the highly mysterious
circumstances surrounding it, has resulted in a very distinct historical
niche being carved around him. However, the majority of written
examinations have concerned his assassination. The man's presidency, short
though it was, was fraught with fascinating events and, both in literature
and in film, they remain frustratingly under-examined. Which is why
"Thirteen Days" is such a treat.
What the film essentially does is offer us a clearly partly-fictionalised
but fairly true to the events account of the thirteen days of the Cuban
Missile Crisis in 1962. It's a fascinating close-up on a fascinating man,
who might have been a truly great president if he had gotten a proper
chance. Of course, the filmic portrayal of JFK may be just a tad overly
sympathetic, and the treatment of the military a tad overly harsh, and the
importance of Kenny O'Donnell, played by Kevin Costner, is probably
exaggerated, but these are minor quibbles. What this film really does is
show us just how complicated and multi-faceted was the problem of Russian
nuclear missiles being installed in Cuba. Not only did the president have
to face the dim and distant threat of a faceless Russian bureaucracy, he had
to deal with the multiple and conflicting options constantly being advanced
to him, the dangers posed by certain special interests in military and
intelligence and the popular opinion of the American people. The
repercussions of any number of different courses of action were almost
unthinkable. Tilting the hand seemingly in the American favour in one
place, say in Cuba, would destabilise another danger zone, such as Berlin.
Despite the fact that we all know how the events played out in the end, it
can't be denied that this film keeps adding to the tension constantly,
occasionally letting off a little and then piling on a whole lot more. It's
a wonderful portrayal.
At its core, however, the film is an intelligent study of the ultimately
paralysing effects of power, and the stark horror of mutual destruction as
made possible by the harnessing of atomic power. The discovery of nuclear
fission reactions has forever changed the face of warfare, because there now
exists an ultimate solution so terrible it is almost beyond contemplation.
In the comparatively safer times in which we now live, it is easy to forget
how possible, perhaps even likely, the threat of nuclear war. America was
then, and remains now, the most powerful nation on the planet, and yet a
single wrong move could have ended all that, and at the cost of millions of
innocent lives. Bearing the weight of decisions which could cost so much
must have been a horrible burden to Kennedy, and, if nothing else, we should
thank our lucky stars that he didn't buckle under the multifarious pressures
placed on him. This film is a tribute to reason over hotheadedness, and
peace over war. We should not forget the lessons that time has to impart,
and if this represents a way to remember, then everyone ought to watch