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Last week, I celebrated my birthday and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. In response to my gift to myself — biscuits (cookies) and tea from Fortnum and Mason — Anne shared her experience of afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason during her trip to London in 2019. On the same day, she visited the British Library, walked by the British Museum, and enjoyed the displays and architecture of the Victoria and Albert Museum, so don’t miss this opportunity to vicariously enjoy a day out in London.
Operation Mincemeat is a 2021 film starring Colin Firth and based on a historical event in World War II.
It’s 1943 and the Allies are about to invade Sicily, the island at the toe of Italy’s boot, to get their first foothold back into Europe. To maximize success and minimize casualties, the invasion needs to be a surprise attack.
Near the beginning of the film, Churchill states the problem succinctly:
I want to know how it will be achieved, convincing Herr Hitler we’re not going to do what anyone with a bloody atlas can see we’ll do.
The answer ends up being Operation Mincemeat, a fanciful scheme where fake documents are planted on the corpse of a fake fallen pilot that washes ashore in Europe to be found by the authorities. The fake documents will indicate that the target for the initial invasion of Europe will be Greece, not Italy.
The ridiculousness of the deceptive plot gives this WWII movie a humorous undertone, aided by Colin Firth’s wry performance as Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu who is put in charge of the operation. He has two partners — Charles Cholmondeley and Ian Fleming. Yep. The Ian Fleming who, later in life, wrote the James Bond novels.
What I most enjoyed about this movie were the ways that it intersected with my research on codebreaking in World War II that I shared during my A to Z Challenge.
One is the presence of Ian Fleming. Fleming tends to show up on the edges of the history of codebreaking. He worked as an aide to the Director of British Naval Intelligence, which meant that he served as liaison to many of the British secret operations, including the work at Bletchley Park and coordinating that work with the Americans.
Another is the presence of two women on the team who were recruited from Bletchley Park. They play two roles. I described one in N is for Normandy about how good codebreakers are valuable when creating good deceptions. The other was to monitor the coded messages to see if the enemy took the bait — I described that in O is for Ōshima.
Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy seeing Penelope Wilton who played the widowed Isobel Crawley. In Operation Mincemeat, Wilton is Montagu’s long-time faithful secretary, Hester Leggett.
We streamed Operation Mincemeat on Netflix. I assume that it will eventually be released on DVD, but I couldn’t find an expected date.
Have you seen this movie? What did you think?