Operation Mincemeat narrates the true events that occurred during the Second World War, as Britain attempted to get the upper hand by deceiving the Hitler-led Nazi Germany at the time. It is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
In 1943, a British intelligence group, and Winston Churchill (Simon Russell Beale), the Prime Minister at the time, are pondering how to invade Sicily, an Italian region, to gain an advantage against Nazi Germany.
They come up with a borderline ridiculous idea of deception, something that would convince Germany that the Allied powers are going to attack Greece instead.
The plan consists of staging a corpse as one of their soldiers who has important documents that suggest Britain is about to invade Greece.
Commander Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), the creators of the plan, are struggling to cope with their own personal struggles.
Montagu’s marriage is on the rocks, and his wife and children have shifted to the United States, while Cholmondeley has always been under the shadow of his brother, who lost his life in war, and was always their mother’s favourite.
They manage to find the corpse of a mentally challenged individual and set to create a fake backstory to make it all believable.
He is given the generic British name William Martin, and the two make him a member of the British Marines, with all evidence forged.
They add in a photograph and a lover named Pam, who is actually Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald), an MI5 secretary.
When the corpse’s sister shows up, the two have to reluctantly force her to accept that he is now doing a ‘service’ for the country. His real name is Glyndwr Michael.
Things get complicated when Jean, Montagu and Cholmondeley find themselves in a love triangle.
Cholmondeley is attracted to Jean, but she does not reciprocate. On the other hand, Jean and Montagu very much like each other. Envious, Cholmondeley tells her about Montagu’s family, ruining things between them.
Cholmondeley is also asked to spy on Montagu, whose brother is confirmed to be a communist.
Despite numerous objections from the higher-ups, the plan is eventually executed, thanks to Churchill’s unwavering support.
The body washes up on a beach in Spain, and now it’s up to the spies stationed there to get the documents to Germany.
If you still have doubts about the ending, here’s a detailed breakdown.
Operation Mincemeat ending explained in detail:
A deception in Spain
After the body washes up at the shore, the assumption is that the forensic examination will be conducted by a novice. But an expert pathologist shows up instead.
The operatives call the British Embassy in Spain, fully aware that any communication between them will reach Berlin itself. They act as if the documents contain essential evidence.
Thankfully, the pathologist cancelled the autopsy and they could never confirm if the corpse had actually drowned or not.
Adolf Clauss, the competent German spy they had counted on the get the evidence to German, actually ended up two steps behind, and the briefcase with the evidence reaches Admiral Moreno.
Much to the British operatives’ frustration, the Spanish Navy is not letting the Germans even get a sniff at the briefcase, preventing their plan from fruition.
In desperation, the British officer at the embassy in Spain has to liaise with Colonet Cerruti, part of Spain’s secret police, and a secret fascist who can get the papers to Kühlenthal, the German spy.
Although Cerruti ends up accepting the British officer’s suggestion that the papers are important, acting as if he is a fascist himself, the latter does not act before getting a handjob, with a hint that such incidents have happened before.
Moreno returns the briefcase to the British embassy. And while the fact is hidden with great care, the letter, in fact, had been read.
An uncertain future
A man approaches Jean suggesting that the higher-ups in Germany who are secretly sympathetic to the Allied powers have gathered wind the photograph is fake.
However, they need to know if the evidence on the corpse is true, in order to mislead Hitler. Jean ends up telling them it’s all true.
After a brief spat between Montagu and Cholmondeley, they suspect that Alexis von Roenne, a senior intelligence analyst, could be the secret anti-Nazi conspirator.
Despite all the uncertainty, the British military heads towards Sicily in the hope that Hitler hadn’t been made aware of Operation Mincemeat, with their fate hanging by a thread.
With her part now over, Jean decides to leave and go somewhere where she’s needed, breaking both her and Montagu’s hearts in the process.
Etched in history
The invasion fleet is assembled with instructions for the US to breach through Licata Beach, while the British set up the sonar homing buoy to guide the others.
As the renowned writer, and officer at the time, Ian Fleming pens down the entire event, he waits for the outcome with bated breath, just like the others.
Finally, they receive instruction that the forces faced minimal resistance and had managed to hold the beach. Operation Mincemeat was successful, resulting in what Fleming describes as “an ending filled with light”.
With it all over, Montagu and Cholmondeley discuss how the glory will be awarded to those who made it, and not them.
As the latter informs the former that his brother’s body has been brought home for burial, he offers to join, but not before the two have a drink together, even if it is eight in the morning.
As the movie ends, it is revealed that the operation ended up saving several thousand lives and other details about the fate of those involved in the narrative.
The most striking of which is that in 1997, the British added an epitaph to the corpse’s tombstone in Spain, which said “Glyndwr Michael served as Major William Martin,” a true testament to his importance in winning the war.