Operation Mincemeat (2021)


Introduction

Operation Mincemeat is a 2021 British war drama film directed by John Madden.

It is based upon Ben Macintyre’s book on the British Operation Mincemeat during the Second World War. The film stars Colin Firth, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, and Jason Isaacs.

During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.

Refer to The Man Who Never Was (1956).

Background

Operation Mincemeat was a successful British deception operation of the Second World War to disguise the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. Two members of British intelligence obtained the body of Glyndwr Michael, a tramp who died from eating rat poison, dressed him as an officer of the Royal Marines and placed personal items on him identifying him as the fictitious Captain (Acting Major) William Martin. Correspondence between two British generals which suggested that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia, with Sicily as merely the target of a feint, was also placed on the body.

Part of the wider Operation Barclay, Mincemeat was based on the 1939 Trout memo, written by Rear Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division and his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming. With the approval of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and the military commander in the Mediterranean, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the plan began by transporting the body to the southern coast of Spain by submarine and releasing it close to shore, where it was picked up the following morning by a Spanish fisherman. The nominally neutral Spanish government shared copies of the documents with the Abwehr, the German military intelligence organisation, before returning the originals to the British. Forensic examination showed they had been read and Ultra decrypts of German messages showed that the Germans fell for the ruse. German reinforcements were shifted to Greece and Sardinia before and during the invasion of Sicily; Sicily received none.

The full effect of Operation Mincemeat is not known, but Sicily was liberated more quickly than anticipated and losses were lower than predicted. The events were depicted in Operation Heartbreak, a 1950 novel by the former cabinet minister Duff Cooper, before one of the intelligence officers who planned and carried out Mincemeat, Ewen Montagu, wrote a history in 1953. Montagu’s work formed the basis for the 1956 British film The Man Who Never Was. A second British film based on the events was released in 2021 under the title Operation Mincemeat.

Outline

Depicts the events surrounding the Second World War plan Operation Mincemeat, a deception effort to keep the plans for the Allied invasion of Sicily secret.

Cast

  • Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu.
  • Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley.
  • Kelly Macdonald as Jean Leslie.
  • Penelope Wilton as Hester Leggett.
  • Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming.
  • Jason Isaacs as John Godfrey.
  • Simon Russell Beale as Winston Churchill.
  • Paul Ritter as Bentley Purchase.
  • Mark Gatiss as Ivor Montagu.
  • Nicholas Rowe as David Ainsworth.
  • Will Keen as Salvador Gomez-Beare.
  • Alexander Beyer as Karl Kuhlenthal.
  • Lorne MacFadyen as Roger Dearborn.
  • Hattie Morahan as Iris Montagu.
  • Alex Jennings as John Masterman.
  • Mark Bonnar as St John Horsfall.
  • Gabrielle Creevy as Doris Michael.
  • Ruby Bentall as Connie Bukes.
  • James Fleet as Charles Fraser-Smith.
  • Nico Birnbaum as Alexis von Roenne.
  • Markus Von Lingen as Adolf Clauss.
  • Jonjo O’Neill as Teddy.

Production

It was announced in May 2019 that the film would be directed by John Madden, and Colin Firth would star. Kelly Macdonald joined the film in October. In December, Matthew Macfadyen, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, Tom Wilkinson, Hattie Morahan, Simon Russell Beale, Paul Ritter and Mark Gatiss were added to the cast. Jason Isaacs was announced as part of the cast in March 2020.

Principal photography began in December 2019 between London and Spain. Filming locations include a battle scene at Saunton Beach in North Devon in February 2020 and a scene in Málaga in March 2021.

Release

In February 2021, Warner Bros. International acquired the Operation Mincemeat’s distribution rights in the UK. The film had its world premiere at the 2021 British Film Festival in Australia, and was released in cinemas on 15 April 2022. Netflix purchased the rights to the film in North America and Latin America, and it wad released on the streaming service in those territories on 11 May 2022.

Trivia

  • The vessel used to deploy the body in the sea during the real Operation Mincemeat was the S class submarine P219 HMS Seraph.
  • The script for the picture was co-written by Ben Macintyre who is a well-known historian who previously wrote an account of the mission entitled ‘Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II’ (2010).
    • The film is based on this book whilst Macintyre also acted as a consultant to the production.
  • The identity of the deceased man was not revealed until 1998. Only then was the truth told that Michael died without any living relatives to give permission.
    • The headstone carved on his burial site in Spain originally referenced the name of his purported father as being “John Glyndwyr Martin” and his mother as being “Antonia Martin.”
    • After all was finally made public, the headstone had the words added: “Glyndwr Michael served as Major William Martin, RM.”

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • John Madden.
  • Producer(s):
    • Katherine Bridle … associate producer.
    • Iain Canning … producer (p.g.a.).
    • Charles S. Cohen … producer.
    • Nicky Earnshaw … co-producer.
    • Simon Gillis … executive producer.
    • Peter Heslop … co-producer.
    • Christian McLaughlin … executive producer.
    • Emile Sherman … producer (p.g.a.).
    • Kris Thykier … producer (p.g.a.).
  • Writer(s):
    • Michelle Ashford (screenplay).
    • Ben MacIntyre (book).
  • Music:
    • Thomas Newman.
  • Cinematography:
    • Sebastian Blenkov (director of photography).
  • Editor(s):
    • Victoria Boydell.
  • Production:
    • See-Saw Films.
    • Cohen Media Group.
    • Archery Pictures.
    • FilmNation Entertainment.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Ascot Elite Entertainment Group (2022) (Switzerland) (theatrical).
    • Paradiz (2022) (Russia) (theatrical).
    • Shaw Organisation (2022) (Singapore) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros. Pictures Germany (2022) (Germany) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros. Pictures (2022) (UK) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros. (2022) (France) (theatrical).
    • Warner Bros. (2022) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
    • Joy n Cinema (2022) (Korea) (all media).
    • Netflix (2022) (Brazil) (video) (VOD).
    • Netflix (2022) (USA) (video) (VOD).
  • Release Date: 05 November 2021 (British Film Festival, Australia) and 15 April 2022 (UK).
  • Rating: 12A.
  • Running Time: 129 minutes.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

One thought on “Operation Mincemeat (2021)

  1. … and to think my librarian filed away Ben Macintyre’s WW2 espionage thriller Operation Mincemeat and Len Deighton’s Cold War classic Ipcress File as cook books, archived Mick Herron’s sardonic spy thriller Slow Horses next to George Orwell’s Animal Farm and filed Bill Fairclough’s espionage epic Beyond Enkription under cryptography before she completed her MI6 induction program.

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