Newly released, star-studded War movie has special connection to Hamilton

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Published May 12, 2022 at 11:49 am

Hamilton, Mincemeat, movie
Matthew Macfadyen (left) and Colin Firth in 'Operation Mincemeat.' (Netflix)

A recently released, star-studded film about the Second World War features some of Hollywood’s biggest names and has a special connection to Hamilton.

Maps from a rare collection housed at the McMaster University Library in west Hamilton are featured as props in the movie Operation Mincemeat.


The film tells the true story of two British intelligence officers who orchestrated an operation to deceive the Nazis and disguise the successful 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily.

The movie stars Oscar winner, Colin Firth, and actor Matthew Macfadyen (Death at a Funeral, Pride & Prejudice) and was also directed by Oscar-nominated John Madden.

In the trailer for the movie, at least two of the McMaster collection’s maps can be spotted by those with the keenest eyes.

“It really is like seeing your friend in a movie,” said Gord Beck, a retired, long-time map specialist at McMaster University Library.

“I spent years pouring over these maps, and they are easily recognizable to me. It’s so very exciting to see them again in this way.”

According to the university, more than 20 digitized maps from McMaster were used as props and set dressing in Operation Mincemeat.

The maps are part of the extensive Lloyd Reeds Map Collection, which spans the years between 1486 and the end of the Cold War in 1990. It features more than 10,000 digitized maps alone from the Second World War.

The two clearly identifiable maps in the movie’s trailer are the Cadiz and Sicilia, which were air maps produced by the Great Britain War Office in 1940 and 1941, respectively.

“During both the First and Second World Wars, there was a scramble for current topographic maps for countries where there were battles taking place,” Beck said.

“These maps were probably originally produced by the Italian or Spanish governments, and the British government would have acquired them. The maps would have been translated into English, with numbers converted into imperial system units, and then mass-produced for the troops.”

McMaster’s digitization of the collection has meant that maps curated and collected by the university library over the years have been featured in other epic war films.

Interestingly enough, one such film, 1917, also stars Colin Firth and another film, entitled Fury, stars Brad Pitt.

Operation Mincemeat is screening at the Playhouse Cinema in on Sherman Ave. N in central Hamilton. It is also available to stream on Netflix.

 

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