No Doomsday marathon would be complete without a clenched-jaw nuclear showdown with the entire world hanging in the balance. And no nuclear showdown is quite as nerve-wracking as the Cuban Missile Crisis, if only because it actually happened. While too young to have lived through it, I still find a fascination with the deeply paranoid Cold War mindset if only because I recognize a glimmer of myself in it. Whether history repeats itself quite the way it happened in sixties America, the curse about living in interesting times feels shared between our two epochs.
Adapted from Robert Kennedy’s memoir of the same name, Roger Donaldson’s Thirteen Days places us in the inner sanctum of the Kennedy Administration as a potential nuclear conflict builds between the Soviets and the U.S. The tagline for the film is ‘you’ll never believe how close we came’, and this is its chief draw, for while the audience already knows how the story ends, potentially robbing the storytellers of any suspense, it is what many do not know about the daily occurrences leading up to the standoff that makes for the resulting tension. One miscommunication or rash decision after another set the dominoes in motion, and it ends up being more luck and happenstance than strategy that ultimately helps ward off catastrophe.
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