Thirteen Days

Cuba, The Kennedys and Costner

Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Dylan Baker

Director: Roger Donaldson

Plot Summary: The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 is dramatized in this film, showing just how close the U.S. and Soviet Union came to mutual destruction.

This is a skillfully done drama about a very tense few weeks in 1962. At that time the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in the midst of a cold war, and the placement of potential nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba, just off the coast of the United States, presented the President and his advisors with a horrible dilemma.

President John F. Kennedy (Greenwood) and his brother, Bobby (Culp), rely on the advice of an old friend named Kenny O’Donnell (Costner). While I don’t know the real history, or even if such a man did exist, the plot as it is told in this movie is credible. I can see how each person would react, depending on their personality and function, and the interplay among the departments (military and civilian) is played up through a number of tense situations. Things are not helped by the Russians themselves, who do apparently illogical things that almost force the President to war. But he is not one to go off half-cocked, and the movie is very deft in showing how war was narrowly averted through the works of “good men”.

It is historically accurate in broad strokes, such as when certain events took place, and the end result of planning sessions. But I’m sure that the sessions themselves were dramatized for effect. But they are very well done, and gripping. I enjoyed watching how each situation was analyzed, and how politics wrapped in emotions can distort or otherwise prevail against logic. This is a well-made film and I definitely recommend it.

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