Operation Mincemeat (2021)
One of the wartime short films tonight was called Choose Cheese. With rationing introduced early in 1940 in Britain, this public information film was created to promote the advantages of eating cheese over meat. Amusingly, this seemed to spark various cheese related conversations around the hall, such was the power of propaganda. When only two of us turned up for discussion, I wondered if everyone else had gone home to eat a cheese sandwich.
This was a compelling and fascinating film. We talked about the manipulation of truth and how the theme of the film links with politics today. Talking about truth, I also was concerned that the story about Lieutenant Commander Ewan Montagu’s relationship with his wife was mispresented with a romance sub-plot. The family have letters with very loving messages that he and his wife sent each other during the War.
I felt it was a shame Ewan’s Jewishness wasn’t explored more. His family were key philanthropists in the Jewish community and his values of justice and ‘tikkun ha’olam’ (repair of a damaged world) were key to his life. Apart from once, when he mentioned his Jewish family being safe in America, there was no hint of his identity.
We liked the costumes, sets and lighting and were a little intrigued by the nightclub scenes, wondering if they were set in embassies or private clubs. Some fine performances – Matthew McFadyen was particularly appreciated. The short film where we glimpsed everyday life in wartime London was enjoyed for its modern qualities, with the woman filmmaker narrating her own images.
We called it a night and went home. I did give the Stilton in the fridge a glance, I must admit.