"The Big Red Dog is diggin' in our back yard."
Thirteen Days
Review by Ross Anthony

Sharply percussive snare drum hits shatter the high flying violin song as nuclear rockets dash across the screen leaving mushroom clouds in their wake. This is not the opening sequence of some light tale.

October 1962, the country is oblivious to the tension reeling through JFK, brother Bobby, and adviser to the president played by Kevin Costner. Soviet Russia builds nuclear weapons in Cuba; will the USA strike first to eliminate the threat or opt for negotiations with an untrustworthy government?

"Thirteen Days" paints a Norman Rockwell picture perfect image of 1962 ... even Thirteen Daysdropping into black and white (or blue and white) for effect. And launches from there into a highly compelling spiral of argumentation, politics and diplomacy. All the while, the threatening black cloud of nuclear holocaust descends ever nearer the most powerful nation in the world.

The military brass pressures JFK, "Order now and we'll be able to invade and take over Cuba in 8 days;" their pleas as insistent as television mail ads ... "Order now, Order now, Order now." Kennedy is torn, tending to the decision with grave seriousness, "There's something immoral about abandoning your own judgment."

His assistant offers a double-edged reassurance, "There is no wise old man, there's just us."

It's a long film that sneaks up on you. Enjoying the nostalgic view back into the 60's, and barely tolerating the fake accents, I didn't realize how much the tension had crawled from the screen under my skin. Then when JFK's publicity guy announces to the public that JFK will speak regarding a matter of the "highest urgency" - I felt my throat tighten in pain as if my country sincerely was in danger.

And though, I could tell you with certainty that outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis did not involve nuclear war ... I was still engaged firmly in this power play of politics and military muscling. Whew!!!! We won.

  • Thirteen Days. Copyright © 2000.
  • Starring Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Dylan Baker, Michael Fairman, Henry Strozier, Frank Wood, Kevin Conway, Time Kelleher, Len Cariou, Bill Smitrovich.
  • Directed by Roger Donaldson.
  • Written by David Self.
  • Produced by Armyan Bernstein, Peter O. Almond, Kevin Costner.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:51:49 PDT