Operation Day Break – 1975.

Ramakrishnan, my uncle, took me to Safire Theater to watch this movie when I was in Class VIII. This was the first English movie I watched and also first time I stepped into a place which had air-conditioning. This may sound like an old Peter Pan lingerie ad, “The first time I wore Peter Pan, was also first time I came home at 2 A.M.” I can safely say the first one is true.

I did not remember the story or the dialogues of the movie till internet and Wikipedia came about in our lives. Whatever I remembered about the movie was nothing about the story. I was mesmerized by the beauty of Europe. The cold and wet streets, the huge buildings, the splendour and opulence of the city (Prague).

I was watching the movie dumbstruck. I could not understand the dialogue. It was in English of course, but then, as I have mentioned before, English was one of the subjects taught in school and I had not spoken more than few sentences in that language ever. I felt cold and I thought, somehow the chillness from the snow filled forests was the reason, forgetting that I was sitting in an airconditioned cinema. It was a mesmerizing experience and I thank my uncle for the magical experience he gave me.

All I understood about the movie was, some young men were trying to kill a General of the Nazi army. I have read about World War II, Hitler, the allies and how the war was won. So I could sympathize with the young men when their first attempt to kill the deputy protector of Bohemia and Moravia – Reinhard Heydrich fails. The plan was to kill Reinhard Heydrich from a signal cabin, shooting him as the train passes by the cabin. Unfortunately, when they have him in sight, another train passes in front of the train RH is travelling, obstructing their aim. I let out a ‘Oh shit’ or more precisely an equivalent of that expression in Tamil.

Years later (about 30 or 35 years), after a frenetic search, I could get hold of the movie and relived the experience. The scene which I remembered was exactly how was visualizing it all these years. Please watch the clip. You can see the smoke belching steam engine, the the richness of the railway station and the gleaming rail carriage in which Heydrich was travelling, the tension, the excitement and the eventual disappointment of the fighters.

The Failed First Attempt.

I actually did not remember the successful second attempt. The exercise almost ends in clumsy execution. When the fist fighter opens & fires the gun to shoot RH, his machine gun jams. He runs away from the scene pursued by the driver of the car. The second one throws a mine on the car and severely injures RH. He eventually dies of the injury a week or so later.

Mission Accomplished. 

The reprisal ordered by Hitler was brutal even by the coldhearted Nazi killers standards. The three young men were hunted with all the might of Nazi army. They take shelter in a church and betrayed by a member of the resistance group. About hundred vehicles and countless soldiers swarm the church and big battle ensues and all the three fighters die. But Hitler won’t be satisfied. He orders mass killing of two villages close to the city and everyone above sixteen years of age in those village is slaughtered or sent to concentration camps to be killed. Four women who were pregnant, were sent the same hospital where RH dies, forcefully aborted and sent to concentration camp to die.

I have watched many WW II movies later. For people of my age, I think, Steve McQueen and his motorcycle stunt in Great Escape would be the scene that would readily come to mind if we talk about World War II movies. I am planning to write about some of the WW II movies I enjoyed and Steve McQueen would take top honors.

How fast European cities recovered after all the destruction from the war, in itself, would be a great story. Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, was part of the East European block till the fall of Berlin wall, is today, a hot tourist destination. My friend Miroslav Halko is from Prague and we had wonderful time when I visited the city few years back.

Halko and Yours Truly in Prague. 

Operation Day Break does not figure in any Top 10 or Top 20 greatest WW II movie list. But for me, Operation Day Break would be a dear movie. The music and the characters will be always etched in heart, thanks to my uncle.

Operation Day Break – 1975 –  Available for download in Amazon Prime USA.

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert,

Starring: Anthony Andrews, Timothy Bottoms & Martin Shaw

Cinematography: Henri Decaë. Music: David Hentschel








3 thoughts on “Operation Day Break – 1975.

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  1. This was our window into world outside that time and living in Chennai was a blessing. Thanks to our dear mothers vision and decision to move to the city At the right age made all the difference. Be it in the English movies or Bengali or then the French all happened due to Chennai. Moving to West later have more opportunities and we thoroughly enjoyed the period and the period movies. Few months back when I watched the entire serial on hitler on your advice, could jog lot of old memories. You have made the blog as gripping as the movie. 👍🏼👍🏼👏🏻👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. நான் முதன்முதலாக AC தியேட்டரில் பார்த்த படம் “வியட்நாம் வீடு” சாந்தியில் மதிய காட்சி பார்த்தோம்,எங்க சின்ன அண்ணன் அழைத்து சென்றான்,ஏழு வயதில் அந்த படம் அவ்வளவாக அப்போது பிடிக்கவில்லை, குளிர் வேற, தூங்கிட்டேன், இடைவேளையில் எழுந்து ராத்திரி ஆகிடாச்சான்னு அண்ணனிடம் கேட்டேன்,அவன் விளக்கினான் பின் வீட்டில் எல்லோரிடமும் சொல்லி கலாட்டா பண்ணினான் 😃.

    இங்கிலீஷ் படத்திற்கு எல்லாம் தியேட்டருக்கு போவதில்லை,படம் பார்க்கும் வாய்ப்பு எப்போதாவது தான் கிடைக்கும் அதை வேஸ்ட் பண்ண நினைத்ததில்லை,இப்போதும் அவர்கள் பேசும் குழ குழ இங்கிலீஷ் சரியாக புரியாததால் பெரிய ஆர்வம் இல்லை.

    இரண்டாம் உலகப் போர் மாதிரி விஷயங்களை சினிமாவில் பார்ப்பதை விட நாவலாக படிப்பதையே விரும்புகிறேன், நம் கற்பனை அளவிற்கு எந்த டைரக்டராலேயும் காண்பிக்க முடியாதல்லவா.

    ரமேஷ் எழுதியிருப்பதை பார்த்தால் நல்ல படமாக தான் இருக்கும் போல தோனுது,சப் டைட்டில் இருந்தால் பார்த்திட வேண்டியது தான்.

    இந்த ஊரடங்கிலும் ஒரு லாபம் உள்ளது,ரமேஷ் நிறைய எழுதுறான் 😃.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stumbled into this blog somehow , looking about radios.
    Coincidentally, I too watched the same movie in Safire theatre with my father, and this has remained one of my favorite movies!!! (The recent remake of the movie falls short.) The movie was etched in my mind, esp when the sten gun fails.
    Planning a trip to Prague this year to see the actual place where it all happened (Youtube has clips as well).


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