We sat down with Academy Award Winner John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) to discuss his latest movie, Operation Mincemeat, a WW2 spy drama starring Colin Firth (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice), Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Johnny Flynn (Emma), and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter).
You can watch the whole interview down below:
Operation Mincemeat is based on the novel of the same title, written by Ben Macintyre and based on the true events that took place in 1943, leading to the success of what is considered to be one the most complex British deception ever created, Operation Mincemeat. Just as important as D-Day, Operation Mincemeat played a crucial role in the victory of the allies against Germany during the Second World War. So what exactly is Operation Mincemeat? This mission, executed by the MI5, and in particular led by Captain Ewen Montagu (Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Macfadyen), is an operation that was meant to fool the Germans into believing that the Allies would invade Sardinia and Greece instead of Sicily.
Madden’s movie relates the months of preparation for this operation: Montagu, Cholmondeley, and their team had to find a dead body, imagine a life for this man, and finally carry the corpse to the coast of Spain, in the hope that the enemy would find him. But the most important part is that the dead corpse would be carrying fake secret documents revealing that the target of the invasion would be Greece and Sardinia.
Ian Fleming, James Bond’s creator, and here portrayed by Johnny Flynn, was indeed part of this operation, as assistant to Britain’s director of naval intelligence, Rear Adm. John Godfrey (Isaac). Godfrey was even Fleming’s inspiration for the character of M in James Bond. John Madden explained:
“The Ian Fleming part is just an extraordinary aspect of this story (…) he was ten years away from becoming a writer. (…) He’s the person who sort of came up with the idea, which he borrowed from a book of detective fiction (…) and sort of threw that up in the air (…) well, actually, it was picked up by Charles Cholmondley, really, as an idea that could be developed as a way to persuading the Germans that the allies were not going to invade Sicily, they were going to invade somewhere else.’’
The full events of Operation Mincemeat are extremely complex and the slightest mistake could have jeopardized this operation. John Madden told us:
“We thought it could be a film. But it’s an immensely difficult process, trying to distill (…) the center of a story, out of all of this, I mean a film story, that could unfold in the space of the length of a film. The great surprise of it was how human, the story was.’’