Thirteen Days (2000)

The Cuban Missile crisis gets the Hollywood treatment. This excellent brink-of-nuclear-war political thriller from director Roger Donaldson is an unapologetic eulogy to the Kennedy brothers and the glamour of their ‘Camelot’ period in office. It is the most comprehensive onscreen presentation of the workings of the administration of JFK, the rock star president.

The saccharine schmaltziness can get a bit much at times. It’s hard not to notice an element of rose-tinted glasses here in screenwriter David Self’s clearly partial treatment, but it’s an epic White House movie nonetheless that presents possibly the key event of the entire Cold War, with as many high-octane moments of geo-strategic tension as you could want, as ships, missiles and armies are mobilised off the coast of Cuba in 1962.

The movie essentially claims that the Kennedys’ diplomatic genius single-handedly averted nuclear war during this incident. That’s a big call. More certain is the chilling, unspoken theme running under the surface that these events represent some of the last major policy moves of a President that led powerful people to conclude he wasn’t fit for office.

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