This is not a movie review. That’s not what I do. It’s about reactions to seeing it. Many are familiar, with accounts of what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2013 from those who were there, both inside the compound and on the teams at the ready if called upon to reinforce or rescue those inside. The story line in the Michael Bay film was more than surprising and less than a shock. This is surprising as the story has been told by those who were there in interviews and in the book of the same name. Seeing it visually play out brings a better understanding of those events, especially for those of us who are visual learners. For everyone who sees it, it replaces mental images with tangible moving pictures.
Does Bay show the story exactly as it happened happened? Probably not. Although on-screen text at the opening of the film said something like, “This is a true story.” Is this statement accurate? If you believe those who were in the battle and eyewitnesses, yes. Their truth is based upon the recollections of those who were there. It is important to note that those who were there asked if Bay got it right, all of them, to a man, said, “yes”. Are human memories often flawed, especially in stressful situations as this one clearly was? Of course. There are likely subtleties in the margins of their accounts that are not precisely accurate. Would that change it from a “true story” to a story “based upon actual events”? No. Unless there is a conspiracy designed to spread lies is behind the book and this film, which would be unlikely, taking this as a true account makes sense.
I went with my friends Robin and Jon to see 13 Hours it in the wee hours of Monday morning (1/18/2016). On the way home, no one said anything that they didn’t have to. Like the directions back to our hotel, “turn left here.” 30 hours later, I was still processing it. Others I’ve heard from said that they had tears and anger. We had them too, and there are good reasons for it.
I was up early Monday morning, still trying to process it until I thought that I should put it away for a while. After all, it was the day to turn and remember the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Scanning my social media streams I saw that The Mike Slater Show, doing the day’s show prep, had posted two quotes from his speeches on his Facebook page. I expected Mike’s show would start off talking about Rev. Dr. King at noon my time so I tuned into his stream. What happened about 2 minutes in changed what my Monday would be like.
Instead of starting with Rev. Dr. King, it was 13 Hours. Mike said on his Saturday show that he was going to see it that night so his devoting the first half hour to the film wasn’t surprising. I listened as he broke down his reaction and thoughts. Listening to Mike’s words I felt like he was channeling me. His thoughts and emotional reactions, right down to his anger at the very end of the film were almost identical to mine.
As I talked to others throughout the day their reactions were nearly congruent with Mike’s and mine. When Jon & Robin and I finally met for dinner late last night and talked our reactions were mirrors of each other. It was a pattern that would repeat itself over the days that followed. Everyone shed tears, were angered and needed time to process what they saw. Many are still processing it, and many more will carry what happened with them for a very long time.
13 Hours is the story of the day our country left our guys behind, something America has never done before. America became less on that 9/11/13.
Here’s Mike’s podcast. It starts about 2:00 in. It’s so very worth hearing. And yes, his first caller was me. http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/kfmbam/