Friday, August 03, 2018

Thirteen Days

"Thirteen Days" (2000) is a historical and political thriller movie directed by Roger Donaldson. It recounts the situation lived within the White House in 1962 when the United States discovered Soviet missiles in Cuba starting what it is known in history as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Donaldson movie is named after Robert F. Kennedy's book about the crisis, but the plot is based in the book "The Kennedy Tapes" written by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow. Both sources provide this movie with the facts but in addition to the Kennedy brothers that are part of previous portrayals of this historical event, Donaldson includes Kenneth P. O'Donnell (Kevin Costner) as a new main character which brings out to the plot a family drama happening outside the government.

The movie goes over the political atmosphere and decisions made during JFK's presidency after the US aerial surveillance discovers USSR missiles installed in the Cuban island that could potentially reach most of the United States. The plot emphasizes the US-USSR relations to disarm Cuba. While John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood), Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp), and O'Donnell try to negotiate the removal of the missiles through non-violent approaches rejecting any military attack, the USSR continues the occupation breaking every single agreement made with the US government to back off. Finally, JFK, RFK, and O'Donnell successfully mediate the end of what seemed like the beginning of Third World War by promising the withdrawal of the US troops in Turkey six months after their agreement.

Though the movie is all about the Cuban missile crisis, Donaldson clearly shows that Cuba and its politics were the least important aspect to deal with. The tensions of this event are between the United States and the USSR as any other matter during the Cold War, portraying the Latin American country as merely a puppet working for the USSR interests. During the film, very few times we see an opinion on behalf of the Cuban government, like the character of Raul Castro talking in a UN general meeting, or the people supporting Cuba, such as demonstrations outside the White House with posters asking for peace and freedom of Cuba. The most important scenes are when representatives of the USSR speak, and of course, when the US demonstrate that the threat is real.

"Thirteen Days" is produced almost thirty years after the missile crisis depicting the event highly threatening in which the United States was the closest to losing the Cold War. This movie is released during a period in which the anxieties experienced during the Cuban Missile Crisis are reawakened. The end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century are marked with a new wave of international tensions (mini-Cold Wars) and proxy wars in which the United States and Russia (former USSR) are directly or indirectly involved. Cuba like any other Latin American country becomes a problem for national security if its politics are manipulated against the United States. However, Donaldson portrays a United States with strong beliefs on non-violent intervention (which was not by the time this movie was made). Perhaps, this is a reminder that even in the worst case scenario the United States could ever face, a warlike response should be the last resource.

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