Updated: May 9
Director: John Madden
I chose this week’s film in deference to what is going on in the Ukraine.
'Operation Mincemeat' is about the war of espionage that wasn’t obvious to those on the ground during WW2, and I am sure espionage is playing as large a part in the Ukraine/Russia war as it did in this 1943 deception. We now know that false information and duplicity is as critical a part in the outcomes of war (and elections!) as what takes place on the ground and sea.
‘Operation Mincemeat' is a true story. It was a World War II-era top secret plan designed to make the Germans believe a massive Allied invasion was to take place via the shores of Greece, when in fact the invasion was to come via Sicily.
Two intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), were given the go-ahead by Churchill (Simon Russell Beale), purely because Churchill thought the ruse just unbelievable enough for the Germans to think no one would be stupid enough to try it. That, and the fact that the Allies were desperate.
The whole operative revolved around a dead body being planted with false documents outlining a pending Greek invasion with believable detail … a girlfriend’s letter, theatre ticket stubs, a snapshot of loved ones … the usual meaningful detritus we carry with us, that make us human. The bet was that the corpse would be intercepted, the documents would be seized and their content would be believed by the Nazis.
The plan was as ridiculous in the belief that it would work operationally as it was with regard to the Nazis take-up and belief in its disinformation. Everything was a chance – that the body would be found, that it would pass as a drowned Allied pilot, that the ink on the letters wouldn’t become indecipherable, and so on and so forth.
‘Operation Mincemeat’ contains many of those espionage elements that we love, and on which our fictional thrillers are built; double and triple agents, urbane multi-lingual spies, pillow espionage and even a fancy gizmo (a watch with a bezel edge for cutting) … the difference is that this story is a true WW2 episode.
A lovely detail is that ‘Operation Mincemeat’ is told through the eyes of a young Ian Fleming (Johnny Flynn), the future James Bond creator, who served in the British Navy during the 1940s, who was already well on his way as a novelist.
As history verifies, 'Operation Mincemeat' was success against all odds and pivotal in changing the passage and most probably the outcome of the WW2.
Walking home from a lovely outing on Sunday morning, I Looked up to see ‘Ukraine‘ written across the sky.