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Thirteen Days (Infinifilm Edition)
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For thirteen extraordinary days in october 1962 the world stood on the brink of an unthinkable catastrophe. After the discovery of soviet weapons in cuba events and tension escalate between two military superpowers and within the white house. Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 12/12/2006 Starring: Kevin Costner Steven Culp Run time: 145 minutes Rating: Pg13 Director: Roger Donaldson

When released in December 2000, Thirteen Days was pummeled for taking liberties with the facts of the Cuban missile crisis and smothering its compelling drama with phony Boston accents by its primary stars. More tolerant critics hailed it as one of the year's best films, and that's the opinion to believe for anyone who enjoys taut, intelligent political thrillers. For those too young to relate directly to the timeless urgency of the crisis that played out over 13 days in October 1962, Thirteen Days joins the classic TV treatment The Missiles of October (1973) as an intense and thought-provoking study of leadership under pressure.

The film (and costar-coproducer Kevin Costner) drew criticism for fictionally enhancing the White House role of presidential aide Kenneth O'Donnell, but while Costner's Boston accent may be grating, his fine performance as O'Donnell offers expert witness to the crisis, its nerve-wracking escalation, and the efforts of John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp) to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Russia. While Soviet missiles approach operational status in Cuba, director Roger Donaldson (who directed Costner in No Way Out) cuts to exciting U.S. Navy flights over the missile site, ramping up the tension that history itself provided. Donaldson's occasional use of black and white is self-consciously distracting, and he's further guilty of allowing a shrillness (along with repetitive, ominous shots of nuclear explosions) to invade the urgency of David Self's screenplay. Still, as Hollywood history lessons go, Thirteen Days is riveting stuff. You may find yourself wondering what might happen if reality presented a repeat scenario under less intelligent leadership. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • A gripping portrayal of Camelot
    Whether or not absolutely accurate, this film allows us to witness a time when America was respected and its leadership admired by the whole Western World. With good reason: JFK demonstrated how moderation, intelligence and a cool head make for great presidents. Too bad his administration was not mimicked by those who followed him....more info
  • An extremely good film albeit somewhat historically inaccurate
    A very good film.
    The negatives:
    - Historically inaccurate in places (I don't trust it is entirely correct- did Kenny O'Donnell really have that must to do with policy in the Cold War?)
    - Accents annoying (but please look beyond that)
    - The flicking in and out of colour/black and white can be annoying
    The positives
    - Extremely intelligent (I truely believe JFK had an IQ of 170)
    - Gripping (the world almost at Armageddon)
    - Brilliant build up of suspense.

    A very good show indeed....more info
  • Lessons never learned?
    Watch this movie right before you watch Fog of War - you will get goosebumps and it might change how you see the world....more info
  • "Edge of your seat" history.
    Credit must be given to Roger Donaldson and Kevin Costner for bringing the suspense and tension of the Cuban missile crisis onto the silver screen. `Thirteen days' is an excellent introduction into what life was like during the cold war for those who weren't around during the 60s. It may not be as in-depth as a book devoted to the subject but it whets the appetite of those who would not otherwise have cared. Those reviewers, who argue that the movie overemphasized O'Donnell's role, should remember that this is a movie and not a documentary and as such the director has the right to choose to highlight the role of some of the characters if he feels this would make the film more interesting.

    What was particularly interesting for me as I watched this film was the fact that this would be a gold mine for a game theorist, and I'm pretty sure there have been books or articles examining this issue using game theory.. It is also interesting as a study of decision making under great uncertainty, and one cannot help but admire J.F.K's cool head and desire to be as certain as possible before making a decision. Comparisons could probably be drawn between the hawkish `men-of-war' back in Kennedy's day and the current kettle of hawks in the white house today.

    But politics aside, this movie should be watched for its own sake, because it really is a thriller and it does keep you on the edge of your seat throughout its duration. I was certainly spellbound throughout and I came out of it learning something and desiring to know more. I don't think any rational person gets their whole history from a movie, so don't expect this to answer all your questions about the Cuban missile crisis.

    The extras on the DVD are excellent; there are interviews with Khrushchev's son, Sergei as well as with professors from Havard and the Brookings Institute which examine the origins of the missile crisis. There are also short film-clips about the main players in the film, McNamara, J.FK, O'Donell etc... even some prominent journalists are included.

    I highly recommend this movie, not because I am a fan of J.F.K (I'm not) but because it is a great film in its own right and also as an introduction to the events of 1962....more info

  • A surprisingly gripping political thriller
    Sometimes Kevin Costner just can't be told. On Tin Cup he couldn't be told that a scene of him beating a security guard to a bloody pulp because he forgot his ID card wasn't going to endear him to the audience in a romcom (I never saw the finished film, but I believe the preview audiences succeeded in getting that scene cut). In The Postman he couldn't be told that ending a film with a statue of him being unveiled was really not a good idea. At all. And in Thirteen Days he couldn't be told that adopting a Boston accent was not a good idea when it makes him sound just like Elmer Fudd. For the first quarter of an hour you're just waiting for him to say "Be wewwy, wewwy qwuiet. I'm hunting Wussian Miss-eyells." So it's a testament to the strength of the film that it survives that hurdle and emerges as a gripping thriller even though we all know the ending.

    Although Costner gets top billing, the film really belongs to Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp as JFK and Bobby Kennedy, avoiding impersonation (and the accent) to give quite superb performances. While the film is occasionally guilty of overglamorizing the dynamic duo, it's surprising to see just how little control they were able to exercise over the Chiefs of Staff who seemed hell-bent on escalating the Cuban Missile Crisis into a full-scale invasion. Considering the final result, it seems particularly timely now to see a drama about a president desperate to avoid a pointless war over weapons of mass destruction that he knows do exist: for all the corruption, spin and dilettantism of the Kennedy administration, this was one of those fortuitous examples of the right leader at the right time.

    The film certainly manages to pull off the rare achievement of instilling a real sense of pride not in action but in diplomacy, with most of the drama taking place in conference rooms (although there are a couple of genuinely exciting pieces of filmmaking in the spy flights over Cuba). Indeed, perhaps the most genuinely stirring moment is Adlai Stevenson calling the Russian ambassador's bluff at the UN, the sort of thing which doesn't exactly pull in the kids at the multiplex. This doesn't always pay dividends, however. The biggest problem is that it loses tension by being so confined to the political and military players: there's no sense of the very real fear that spread throughout the world that this really was IT and that the mushroom clouds would start sprouting any minute. As a result the movie does begin to lose its grip towards the end, and doesn't entirely dodge mawkishness. The sporadic early shifts from color to black and white are a real failure, too. With the archive footage in color, there simply seems no reason for them, and they seem to have been thrown in arbitrarily purely to give it an imagined cutting edge. Still, they're fairly minor flaws in an impressive thriller.

    The extras on the disc are very impressive too, particularly the 50-minute historical documentary and the video portraits of the real key players....more info
  • Entertainment yes! History no!
    Since I am a history buff I tend to eventually get around to most of the films that are history based. I am old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis very well. I also tend toward the conservative side in political views.

    Thirteen Days is a good movie. From a dramatic standpoint it is a success. Bruce Greenwood I thought did a particularly good job as JFK. I think the speech and manners were well done and his general bearing and tone are convincing. The supporting cast, for the most part, is good to very good. I was particularly impressed with Len Cariou, in a minor role as Dean Acheson. I had not been previously aware of this actor.

    Kevin Costner has been criticized for a bad accent and a stiff performance. I thought that the script overplayed his role in the Crisis. Perhaps this was because his star status demanded more lines? And I am not able to accept the almost saint-like image that the role gives to his portrayal of JFK assistant Kenny O'Donnell. At times the camera time seems to give the impression that Costner/O'Donnell is the focus of the film.

    This was all a bit distracting but not serious enough to wreck a good dramatic effort. The characters and the script are all well delivered and believable. Even though you know the outcome the tension and suspense work. It is good cinema.

    As for historical accuracy the overall effect gives JFK a hero aura. In one sense he deserves this. It was a serious crisis and he got out reasonably clean without war. On the other hand all that he he had previously done badly, which undoubtedly contributed to Kruschev's willingness to take the risks, were simply not mentioned.

    In addition Hollywood consistently portrays the military in the poorest light. They didn't fail us here. General Curtis LeMay is portrayed as little short of an overbearing, arrogant savage. Admiral George Anderson comes across as a pompous man who fails utterly to understand the geopolitical aspects of the naval blockade action.

    A good show if you are looking for entertainment. If you looking for history read the relevant history first. So armed this film will help bring it to life for you....more info

    "Thirteen Days" re-created the Cuban Missile Crisis, elevating the Kennedys to virtual sainthood while painting Curt LeMay as an advocate for nuclear holocaust. It was a fantastic picture, like many of them, but in it is an interesting scene in which Kenny O'Donnell, played by Kevin Costner, tells a Navy plot to lie to LeMay about being shot at, because LeMay would supposedly have ordered a strike if he had been. The film paints this lie as the right thing to do because it advocates the Kennedy's position, which was to maintain level heads and a calm demeanor. However, in 1987 Ollie North was excoriated by the Left for lying about the funding of anti-Communist guerrillas, which was Reagan's position. Funny about that....more info
  • Excellent, and historically accurate, film!
    I first saw this movie when it came to theaters and I purchased the DVD as soon as it became available. I was very pleased with the writing, direction and performances. The script stays true to every account I've ever read of the Cuban Missle Crisis and is told, for the purposes of storytelling, through the eyes of Kenny O'Donnell, one of the president's confidants.

    The film demonstrates the pressures and anxiety that JFK and his close advisors faced in those tense weeks of October at the very height of the Cold War. More importanly, it shows the extraordinary level of leadership of the president, Bobby Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson as they faced off against, not only the Soviets, but those in the military establishment who would have rushed us into nuclear war. ...more info
  • Suspenseful cinematic experience...
    Aerial photos taken by a U-2 spy plane reveal that the Soviets have moved nuclear long range missiles into Cuba, which is against the agreement between the U.S.A and Russia. This becomes an upheaval for the United States government as they realize that they might be on the brink of World War III. President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) must decide what plan of action that US must take as he gets help from his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp) and Political Advisor Kenny O'Donnell (Kevin Costner). During the governmental negotiations it becomes apparent that some want to bomb Cuba without hesitation or consideration of what it might lead to. In the shadows of the scheming politicians and military personnel O'Donnell must take action and find a way to avoid any military conflicts as they might lead to the end of the world. Thirteen Days is based on the real events that took place in the US and Cuba in October, 1962, and even if the audience knows the outcome of these events the film offers a suspenseful cinematic experience. Donaldson decided to film in color and intermittently shoot in black and white, which enhances the realism of the story. In addition, the use of archived films from the time when the events took place adds support to the film's realistic feel, which in the end offers a good cinematic experience....more info
  • 13 Days
    I'd never heard of this movie until 10 days ago. I'd worn a red CCCP tee to work and one of the guys asked me, "What's the deal with the shirt?" We'd started talking and I'd brought up the subject of the Cuban Missile Crisis. My friend kept mentioning "13 Days". I'd asked him what the movie was about and he told me "The Cuban Missile Crisis"

    At he time of the event I was eight years old and I remember it as if it were yesterday. People were, to say the very least, extremely frightened. I remember a Nike missile being set up at the corner of Main and Center Streets in my little town.

    I've just finished reading a book called "One Minute To Midnight" by Michael Dobbs (2008) which I'd found absolutely fascinating. Research materials for the book included the latest declassified materials concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis. Friend who served in the military at the time always hold their thumb and index finger about one-eighth of an inch apart while saying, "We were THIS close to global nuclear war."
    After reading "One Minute To Midnight" I now say to them, while hold up my hand with my thumb and index finger touching, "No. We were THIS close to the extinction of life as we know it on planet Earth."

    I found 13 Days an absolutely absorbing movie with great acting. Overall I find the movie to be historically accurate given research materials available at the time the movie was made. Reading "One Minute To Midnight" absolutely enhanced the viewing of the movie for me and I found that newly revealed details in the book did in no way diminish the events depicted in the movie.

    Much has been said about Kevin Costner's character but I found that the character served as a vehicle to link much of the events depicted and to provide perspective. I would not only highly recommend this movie but the book "One Minute To Midnight" as well.

    The only thing that I find would have mad the movie better would have been the inclusion of Krushchev and Castro, which would have provided an all-inclusive presentation of events that led the world to the brink of nuclear war.

    As it stands the movie is a superb presentation of events that transpired on the American side when the Doomsday Clock was poised to strike midnight.Thirteen Days (Infinifilm Edition)...more info
  • Remembering the abyss
    I was in a United States Air Force Base in Missouri during the Cuban Missile Crisis so I followed the events carefully. The characterization of the crisis in the movie adheres to actual events quite accurately and captures the heightening tension very well. ...more info
  • 13 DAYS
  • Excellent Movie
    I really enjoyed the movie a lot. It was riveting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I really goes into great detail about the behind the scenes things going on during the cuban missle crisis. I enjoyed it a lot. I would recommend buying this DVD as it is worth watching again and again....more info
  • First-Rate Docudrama
    "Thirteen Days" is one of the best historical dramas ever made, a genuinely suspenseful rendering of the most on-edge period in American peacetime. Kennedy's moderation under extreme stress (and especially under the constant pressure of the hawks to bomb & invade Cuba) was truly heroic, and Bruce Greenwood's portrayal of him is understated. Steven Culp too is outstanding as Attorney general Robert Kennedy, who ultimately cuts the secret deal with the Russian ambassador which ends the standoff. Apart from Costner's heavy-handed Bastan accent the acting is uniformly excellent, the direction natural and the scenes expertly edited, and the writing has just the right mix of small personal touches between the characters.The recreation of military photo missions over Cuba are very short yet intense....more info
  • Another great film
    I remember watching this movie on my honeymoon flight on the little flip screen. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and couldnt finish it. As soon as it came out on DVD, I rented it again, eventually buying it. It is one of my all-time favorites, and can watch it over and over again. Great acting by ALL characters. An instant classic. Along the lines of 'Clear And Present Danger', it is a well-paced film, without being too detailed, but still very interesting....more info
  • Interesting account
    How close we came to Nuclear War - that is pretty much the theme of this movie. Although I doubt any movie on this subject could recreate the gut wrenching fear that we who lived through those 13 days experienced, this movie comes close. The world watched and waited in horror as a President, still reeling from the Bay of Pigs debarcle now confronts another Cuban threat but this time has to shape up and find the form he lacked against Castro for a much bigger opponent - Kruschev and the USSR!

    My only criticism is that I was a little disappointed by some of the acting, the Trade Mark Massachusett accent of JFK comes and goes, although Bobby's accent seems to remain adhered to his tongue. But other than that, its a good account of those dreadful 13 days in October 1962....more info
  • Excellent!
    I give this movie a two thumbs up!! It is a wonderful, realistic movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis and accurately described the situation. I even had my students watch and and the LOVED it!...more info
  • Thrills and Chills... I love this movie !!
    One of my favorite movies.. This gives you an insiders look into one of the most critical times in America's history...Possible World War 3. The slightest misphrased word or action could have been the end as we know it... Dont miss it..! Cast was excellent.....more info
  • Thirteen Days
    This is a great movie if you wish to get an overview of what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. It follows the political developments in the White House and how the Kennedy Administration wrestled with the problem of defusing the threat of igniting nuclear war between Russia and America.

    Every movie has some bias, but if you wish to get an overall grasp of what the world faced at that time, this movie will help you understand it. You will come away with a greater appreciation of having had a strong American adminstration in the White House willing to stand up to the military machine of the day.

    During an interview Fidel Castro had a few years ago, he said that had American forces landed on Cuban beaches, he would have retaliated with nuclear force. Knowing that, you will appreciate this movie even more....more info
  • Flawed ending
    There are many things to admire in this well-ventilated political thriller. And some flaws, like Kevin Costner's New England accent. But I watch it all the time and I have only one criticism. The moment we have been waiting for for two hours, i.e. the Soviets finally agreeing to remove the missiles from Cuba in return for our pledge never to invade Cuba -- this moment, after all those scenes full of white knuckles, fear of disaster, anxiety -- this moment comes as the scratchy voice of a translator off-camera, "The Soviet Union has agreed..." and a quick shot of some tickertape.

    After this moment, which we hardly notice, everyone is breathing a sigh of relief, the cabinet is congratulating Kennedy, Kevin Costner is saying "Every day the sun comes up says something about us" -- the huge drama and suspense is finally over, and we didn't really see the most dramatic moment of the story. It flashed by too quickly for us to notice.

    Otherwise, a good movie....more info
  • A movie worth watching
    Thirteen Days is a very good political thriller based on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the world the closest it has ever been to a nuclear war.
    Kevin Costner and the rest of the cast have truly outdone themselves with their performances, which are outstanding to say the least. All the actors, without exceptions, give it their 100% and it really shows (the chemistry is something else)! Very well written and very well presented, the film does a great job of providing an entertaining thriller that will transport you to the early Sixties and keep you on your toes for the duration of the movie.
    The only major setback is in relation to the undeserving credit and praise given to the Kennedys while overlooking their weaknesses (e.g. Bay of Pigs), which allowed the Soviets to draw and carry out such an audacious plan in the first place, their arrogance, not to mention the strong element of luck in avoiding disaster in the end.
    In short, though not a masterpiece, Thirteen Days is a movie definitely worth watching, as it will surely provide for an evening's entertainment!
    ...more info
  • Remember biting your nails...?
    Very satisfying retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with great attention to historical detail (the few inaccuracies are negligible). Bruce Greenwood and Steven Culp do an admirable job of portraying the Kennedy brothers (JFK and Attorney General Robert), with Kevin Costner solid as presidential aide Kenny O'Donnell. Director Roger Donaldson wisely allows the suspenseful story to run on its own steam, without over-dramatization. Highly recommended....more info
  • Atmospheric Cold War Thriller
    "Thirteen Days" is an exciting and well-crafted retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, loosely based on Robert Kennedy's book of the same name. Now almost forgotten outside the history books, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war over the Soviet placement of nuclear-tipped missiles in Castro's Cuba.

    Bruce Greenwood as President John F. Kennedy and Robert Culp as Attorney General Bobby Kennedy are almost disturbingly well cast as the leading U.S actors in the drama, which is told from the point of view of Presidential Assistant Kenneth O'Donnell, played by Kevin Costner. In real life, O'Donnell is not known to have played a significant role in the Crisis, but his larger role as portrayed by Costner works well as a dramatic device to follow the action. The other actors are a collection of TV and movie supporting players who adequately fill their roles as administration, military, or congressional personalities. The movie is nicely appointed with period fashion, vehicles, and other details. Portions of the movie include archival footage that heighten the sense of realism and the dramatic tension.

    At the heart of the movie are the deliberations of the Executive Committee, or ExCom, a group of administration personnel handpicked by Kennedy to work options for handling the crisis. Over thirteen days, the strong personalities of the ExCom wrestle with the crisis and each other to find options for the President, facing an opponent whose motives and plans were obscure. Human error several times almost tips the crisis into war. At the end, the frightened American and Soviet leaders cut a secret deal to remove the missiles and end the crisis.

    The movie does assume some prior knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is highly recommended to those for whom the Cold War was a living event; this movie captures the essentials of the crisis in an only mildly overdramatized fashion....more info
  • Bravo to all involved...especially Kevin Costner
    The Cuban Missile Crisis was an important event in our nation's history and I think Kevin Costner should be lauded for helping bring this film to fruition. Hopefully this will be shown to high school students and it will help them understand how close we were to the brink ( and have been back to that brink too many times since).

    I am a very cynical man and I can't remember when I regarded any politician as anything other than a useless predatory hustler but in this instance I must admit that the Kennedy brothers impressed the hell out of me; after all, I owe them a debt of gratitude for not helping initiate a nuclear war back in October 1962.

    Bruce Greenwood ( not laying the accent on thick) makes an impressive JFK and Steven Culp is equally as forceful as Bobby.
    Costner is the only one with a recognizable Movie Star Face but it doesn't hamper him in his performance at all.

    ...more info


    This film either benefits or suffers under the weight of being actual history that many of us recall as it happened 43 years ago.


    This is a non-fictional-but-dramatized inside look at how the Kennedy Administration, and most notably the Kennedy brothers, responded to the shock of finding offensive Soviet missles in Cuba. The drama focuses on the escalation of the crisis from the American viewpoint, as seen by Kevin Costner's character [Kenny O'Donnell], and the desperate political efforts to check it. At the same time, we see the "Joint Chiefs of Staff" seemingly conspiring to get the world into World War 3 for all the right reasons, if such a thing is possible. The pressure builds and we see what is happening in the Pentagon, the White House, in the air over Cuba, and in the Navy at sea enforcing a blockade. All in all, this is a quite large but coherent nutshell.


    This is an excellent, suspense-driven thriller based, rather correctly, on historic facts. Once we get past Kevin Costner's attempt at a Boston accent, it all seems rather real. Bruce Greenwood as President John F. Kennedy depicts the former President's mannerisms and persona very believably and without getting sappy or fictionalizing too much. The same can be said for Steven Culp as Robert F. Kennedy, Dylan Baker as a fiery Robert McNamara, and Michael Fairman as a gutsy and unpopular [for being a dove] Adlai Stevenson.

    But, the real kudos have to go to the men that very frighteningly represented the "Joint Chiefs". Kevin Conway as General Curtis LeMay appeared to be the ultimate Cold Warrior with his let's-get-ready-to-rumble attitude from the get-go. Bill Smitrovich as General Maxwell Taylor played the more reasonable among the unreasonable. He gave the President and the Cabinet the impression at every turn that time and their options were running out in a way that would have made Alfred Hitchcock proud.




    I have not explored the features yet, but the Widescreen Transfer is impeccable in both sight and sound.


    Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    Commentary by: Kevin Costner, director Roger Donaldson, writer David Self, and executive producer Michael De Luca;

    Historical Commentary - John F. Kennedy, Sergei Khrushchev, Ernest R. May, Philip D. Zelikow and Pierre Salinger and historical speeches

    Documentaries: Roots of the Cuban Missile Crisis; Bringing History to the Silver Screen

    Visual effects scene deconstructions: Computer generated photo-realistic flight - Multiangle; Integration of archival footage into Final Film - multiangle

    Historical figures biography gallery, and Deleted scenes with director commentary.

    ...more info
  • interesting
    it was a verry interesting movie to find out what they pass by what to do in some way,it's a little difficult to understand but by seeing it twice i understood everyting,nice movie...more info
  • Accurate and thought provoking
    A nice reconstruction of the hectic days of autumn 1962, when the US and USSR reached the edge of the abyss of massive military confrontation due to the missiles in Cuba. The era is presented with accuracy and the desperate meetings of the US military and political leadership give a feeling of the extremely heavy burden that JFK had to shoulder. Thanks to his magnificent leadership and coolness (but also to his good advisers the movie suggests) the world avoided a nuclear war. It is a film from which world leaders of today should learn many valuable lessons on crisis management. ...more info