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Thirteen Days (2000)

In October 1962, the Kennedy administration struggles to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Director:

Roger Donaldson

Writers:

David Self, Ernest R. May (book) | 1 more credit »

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3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shawn Driscoll ... U-2 Pilot
Kevin Costner ... Kenny O'Donnell
Drake Cook Drake Cook ... Mark O'Donnell
Lucinda Jenney ... Helen O'Donnell
Caitlin Wachs ... Kathy O'Donnell
Jon Foster ... Kenny O'Donnell, Jr.
Matthew Dunn Matthew Dunn ... Kevin O'Donnell
Kevin O'Donnell Kevin O'Donnell ... NPIC Photo Interpreter
Janet Coleman Janet Coleman ... Evelyn Lincoln
Bruce Thomas ... Floyd
Stephanie Romanov ... Jacqueline Kennedy
Bruce Greenwood ... John F. Kennedy
Frank Wood ... McGeorge Bundy
Dakin Matthews ... Arthur Lundahl
Liz Sinclair Liz Sinclair ... Kenny's Assistant #1
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Storyline

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? Written by <jgp3553@excite.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You'll Never Believe How Close We Came


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian | Spanish | Romanian

Release Date:

12 January 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

13 Days See more »

Filming Locations:

Alhambra, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$80,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$46,668, 25 December 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$34,592,089

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$66,579,890
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

General Curtis LeMay said the Kennedy administration giving in to the Soviet demands was the worst defeat the United States had suffered in its entire history. In fact, the concession was to pull outdated missiles out of Turkey and replace them with more modern and powerful missiles. This plan was already in place before the Cuban missile crisis. The Kennedy administration merely adjusted the timetable. See more »

Goofs

In the movie, Kruschev's acceptance of peace contains the line "you and I should not now pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the harder you and I pull, the tighter the knot will become..." The quote goes on at some length and can be seen in the message coming in over the teletype. The trouble with this is that the quote appeared in Kruschev's first letter, dated October 26, 1962, in which he proposed the terms of peace. It did not appear in his October 27, 1962 acceptance of the American conciliation terms. See more »

Quotes

Robert McNamara: Sleep is for the weak Mr. President.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Missiles of October (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Parker's Inn
Written by Hans Haider
Courtesy of Associated Production Music, LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Thrilling Examination Of A Tense Moment In History
17 April 2001 | by CRichardSempleSee all my reviews

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 it.


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