Theme: Resurrection from the Dead
Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen (two Mister Darcys) headline an excellent cast in the Warner Brothers/Netflix new release, Operation Mincemeat. Directed by John Madden, the film is based on the single most spectacular spy deception of World War II and a defining moment in the Allied fight against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi war machine.
“In any story if it’s a good story, there is that which is seen and that which is hidden . . . this is especially true in war stories.” So writes the narrator, Ian Fleming, at the opening of Operation Mincemeat. The movie will unfold the two parallel stories, one which is seen of bullets, bombs, battles, and the military maneuvers. While the other which is unseen operates in the shadows of hidden places, making secret plans which ultimately make their way to the world above and affect the outcome of the “seen” story.
The date is July 10, 1945, and the first word spoken by the leader of Operation Mincemeat, Ewan Montagu, to those under him in Room 13 is Pray! And so all bow their heads and pray as they wait for the end of the story in which they have shared a part.
The movie flashes back to six months prior and the beginning of the operation. Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives his permission for a secret operation of deception to be planned by the Twenty Committee. Seated at the big table are various members of British Intelligence including the two men who are credited with the idea and implementation of Mincemeat: Ewan Montagu and Charles Cholmondelay. The big table (large in size) is where the open war is discussed and deceptive plans conceived. It is also a table of rivalry, rank, discord and dispute.
In sharp contrast, there is a small intimate table hidden away in the Gargoyle Club which is the very heart of the movie. At this table resurrection from the dead is the main topic of concern, how to take a corpse and give the dead man a new identity, a new life, a new story and thus save thousands of lives. Of course, it has to be a love story and most amazingly, by plotting such a story and bringing it to pass, the way is opened for those seated at the table to be raised to a newness of life as well.
Charles and Ewan obtain the “perfect” corpse, a vagrant who died alone after ingesting rat poison. Glyndwr Michael will become Major William Martin Royal Marine and hero of Operation Mincemeat. All five people who come to the small table to participate in the creation of the new life and story will make a personal surrender to leave their old lives and enter his.
Ewan must let go of his distant and remote heart in order to take on the part of William “Bill” Martin, a marine in love. Jean sets aside her widowhood by giving up her old photograph and enters the new story as Pam, Bill’s love interest. Hester, Ewan’s faithful secretary, sacrifices the memory of a treasured letter she once wrote to an old love to become the letter from Pam, which will accompany the photograph Major Martin carries with him. American Sgt. Roger Dearborn hands over his whole person to be photographed in Major Martin’s uniform and literally becomes the face of the Royal Marine.
Finally, Charles who had the original idea for the operation has to abandon his pride and become the humble priest. On April 30th at 3:15a.m. the body of Glyndwr Michael “buried” in the submarine is “raised” as Major William Martin to begin his new journey. Quoting from memory I Corinthians 15:52, the mystery of resurrection, Charles who has accompanied the body to the Spanish Coast prays:
In the twinkling of an eye,
At the last trumpet call,
The dead will be raised,
And we shall be changed.
At the moment the body drops into the water, Jean in London with Ewan prays to St. Jude for the success of Major Martin, the mission, and for those they love.
The second stage of Operation Mincemeat now commences with the body of Martin retrieved by Spanish fishermen. After examination and removal of his secret papers, the war hero is finally laid to rest in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The movie ends where it began, in Room 13 on July 10, 1945. The narrator says it’s only fitting for the two wars to finally converge, there is a suspended moment where the story he writes awaits an ending. . .
An ending redeemed in righteousness,
An ending graced with mercy,
An ending filled with light.
Operation Mincemeat was an outstanding success. The Germans believed the deception planted on Major Martin and sent their troops to Greece. The Allied forces landed in Sicily with limited casualties, the troops met minimal resistance, and the beaches held.
In an Epilogue, the characters’ new lives after the war are told. Ewan and his wife Iris were happily reunited and lived together until his death in 1985. Jean married her solider after the war and Hester was promoted to Director of Admiralty Secretaries. Charles stayed with MI5 and later married, traveled and enjoyed his hobbies. Major William Martin’s grave in Spain had an epitaph added in 1997 . . . the name Glyndwr Michael.
Now is the suspended moment before the end of the story. The New Creation has been inaugurated by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His resurrection from the dead. All are invited to surrender their old lives and come to the Lord’s Table to participate in His life and the New Creation Story . . . awaiting the final end redeemed in righteousness, graced with mercy, and filled with light.