The film is set during the two-week Cuban missile crisis in October of 1962, and it centers on how President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and others handled the explosive situation.
1.85 : 1
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
Drama, History, Thriller
Missile, Cuba, Military, John F Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis
Thirteen Days is a 2000 docudrama directed by Roger Donaldson about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, seen from the perspective of the US political leadership. Kevin Costner stars, with Bruce Greenwood featured as John F. Kennedy.
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In October 1962, U-2 surveillance photos reveal that the Soviet Union is in the process of placing missiles carrying 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 (Bruce Greenwood) and his advisers must come up with a plan of action to prevent their activation. Kennedy is determined to show that the United States will not allow a missile threat in its virtual back yard. The Joint Chiefs of Staff advise immediate U.S. military strikes against the missile sites followed by an invasion of Cuba. However, Kennedy is reluctant to attack and invade because it would very likely cause the Soviets to invade Berlin. Kennedy sees an analogy to the events that started World War I, only this time nuclear weapons are involved. War appears to be almost inevitable.
The Kennedy administration tries to find a solution that will remove the missiles but avoid an act of war. They settle on a step less than a blockade, which is formally regarded as an act of war. They settle on what they publicly describe as a quarantine. They announce that the U.S. Naval forces will stop all ships entering Cuban waters and inspect them to verify they are not carrying weapons destined for Cuba. The Soviet Union sends mixed messages in response. John A. Scali, a reporter with ABC News, is contacted by Soviet "emissary" Aleksandr Fomin (Boris Lee Krutonog), and through this back-channel communication method the Soviets offer to remove the missiles in exchange for public assurances from the U.S. that it will never invade Cuba.
A long message in the same tone as the informal communication from Fomin, apparently written personally by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, is received. This is followed by a second, more hard line cable in which the Soviets offer a deal involving U.S removal of its Jupiter missiles from Turkey. The Kennedy administration interprets the second as a response from the Politburo, and in a risky act, decides to ignore it and respond to the first message, assumed to be from Khrushchev. There are several mis-steps during the crisis: the defense readiness level of Strategic Air Command (SAC) is raised to DEFCON 2 (one step shy of maximum readiness for imminent war), without informing the President; and a routine test launch of a U.S. offensive missile is also carried out without the President's knowledge.
After much deliberation with the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, Kennedy secretly agrees to remove all Jupiter missiles from southern Italy and in Turkey, the latter on the border of the Soviet Union, in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba. Off the shores of Cuba, the Soviet ships turn back from the quarantine lines. Secretary of State Dean Rusk (Henry Strozier) says, "We're eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked."
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