13 Days is a film directed by Roger Donaldson about this Cold War. Here, I analyze the movie's strong and weak points, and identify its historical strengths.

Thirteen Days is a great film directed by Roger Donaldson that depicts the thirteen critical days during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the conflicts within the US government itself as the event unfolded and dissipated. In the October 1962, the US government found out that the Soviet Union was distributing nuclear weapons in Cuba that could destroy the east and south of US within minutes. The reaction to this imminent, disastrous threat brings great challenge on the young president JFK as well as the US government.
This film utilizes camera placement, shadows, and advanced acting skills to depict these emotions. However, what I enjoyed the most was the occasional change from color to black/white. In almost randomly picked moments in the film, the pictures suddenly changed to black/white for a short scene. Afterwards, it would pick back up in color. As I watched the movie for the first time, the changes seemed almost random. However, when I collated all the black/white moments in the movie, and looked at them in the chronological order of the movie, I realized that the black/white scenes were almost chapter headings, in which new twists in the plot were introduced. For example, the first time the movie turned black and white was when the two Kennedy brothers and their political advisor discussed the risk of revealing the threat in Cuba to the general public. Before this moment, the government had been relatively open. After this scene, acts of secrecy began as the government began to hide information for the safety of the entire nation. Each time afterwards, the black and white scenes signposted a change in plot or a twist in the problem. This black/white scene change is actually the director telling the audience “they were about to do something here, pay attention”. Lastly, I greatly enjoyed the way the 3 main characters (JFK, his brother, and his political advisor) stayed together, almost like a team. At some points in the film, it seemed as if not only the nation, but the rest of the government were against them. At certain times in the film, it almost seemed as if these three men were going to split. However, keeping the three men together throughout the whole film made a sense of teamwork, and camaraderie throughout the whole film. This was nice, as the film juxtaposed this teamwork from the rest of the nation, which was splitting up entirely over this issue.
This film did have minor flaws. Many times, the script would include very, very fake titles to attack strategies, codes, or orders. As they named missiles or aircrafts, it was easy to see how made up these weapon names were. Above that, many characters (the General in particular) seemed to have a very low intelligence level. These people did nothing but hinder the progress of the government. I felt an unbelievable amount of frustration toward them whenever they opened their mouths to talk. On the other hand, when the political advisor or JFK began to talk, I would always sit up and listen, as their talking was humorous, intelligent, and eloquent at the same time. 
Most importantly, this film accurately depicts the emotions, feelings, and happenings in this era in the Cold War. This film accurately utilized camera placement to show dominance over the duration of the movie. The different angles that the camera adopted showed the control that various people throughout the government had over each other. The movie then utilized the complex structure of the White House in order to separate different groups of people, or even hold private meetings. Even though the idea of putting the Congress in the same complex as the White House seems abstract, their setting and placement allowed easy access and allowed the camera to flow through with the characters. More importantly, this film addressed actual political issues during that time, presenting how each event affected another. For example, after the generals threatened JFK to unleash the air strike missiles, the political advisor told the president, “they just want to make up for the Bay of Pigs. They want to do it right this time”. This quote refers to the incident that occurred, known as the Bay of Pigs in which the US was humiliated when their invasion into Cuba lasted a shocking 24 hours due to lack of air support. The political advisor sees the general’s desperation to “do it right” and disregards the general’s idea to use airstrikes. Even though this quote seems insignificant in the movie, it is a real reference to a fairly large event in US history. Many of the past events referred to in this move provided a very accurate overview of the Cold War, and how each event would affect another Cuban Missile Crisis.
Overall, Thirteen Days was a masterpiece, depicting not only masterful movie-making, but also accurately portraying the time period around the Cold War. Roger Donaldson made key choices in this film, ranging from camera placement to the accuracy of the plot, which made it such a success.


Submitted: March 19, 2015

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