88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
This is a story loosely, very loosely, based on British intelligence's efforts to crack the Nazi encryption codes used during World War II. The screenplay was adapted from the novel by Robert Harris by playwright Tom Stoppard whose cinematic credits include Brazil (1985) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). Dougray Scott stars as Tom Jericho who is decidedly not Alan Turing, the troubled genius who spearheaded the amazingly successful effort that allowed the Allies to know in advance what the Nazis were up to. The true story is one of the most fascinating to come out of WWII.
This fictionalization is also a very good story. Michael Apted's direction gives us a nice feel for the era and for the type of people involved, intellectual and somewhat nerdish, creative people who were as valuable to the war effort, or even more so, than the soldiers in the field. Dougray Scott does a nice job of depicting a mathematician who has gone a little crazy because of an abortive love affair with a beautiful intelligence clerk, Claire Romilly (Saffron Burrows). He is sent away after cracking the Nazi code, but when the Nazis institute a new code he is returned from the nut house and pressed back into service. Still haunted by the memory of Claire, it is not clear that he is of any use. When he discovers that Claire is missing, the subplot begins with Jericho and Hester Wallace (Kate Winslet), once Claire's roommate, sleuthing through top secret intelligence files looking for clues to determine what happened to Claire and whether she was a spy or not. What they discover along the way of course is each other. Watching them is Wigram, a rakish secret service agent with a heart of pure darkness, played with mystery and an arrogant ruthlessness by Jeremy Northam.
Billed as a thinking man's thriller, it is that. However, the plot suffers from two main problems: Claire can only be seen in flashback (I would like to have seen more of the woman who said, "Poor you. I really got under your skin, didn't I?"), and the action of the film must take place within a few days time, which means that Jericho must simultaneously crack the new code, find out what happened to Claire, and romance Hester. I don't think Apted's direction successfully solved these problems. His concentration on a realistic "feel" to the movie merely masked them.
Nonetheless, one can appreciate the action and remain fully immersed even while not following all of the plot's intricacies. The juxtaposition of the tall, blonde player of men in the person of the beautiful Saffron Burrows with the short, full-figured, Nancy Drew-like Hester in the person of the beautiful and gifted Kate Winslet was a stroke of casting genius. They are fascinating to watch. The contrast between the sensitive and vulnerable Jericho and the worldly and immoral Wigram provided an interesting balance. All four of the leads were excellent.
But see this for Tom Stoppard, who might be called "a thinking man's" screenwriter. His gift for writing witty and authentic dialogue based on research and a finely trained ear is part of what makes this an interesting film well worth seeing.
--Dennis Littrell, author of "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"
150 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2002
While most movies that are released during the summer lack sophistication, great acting, and a plot, this film has them all: in spades. Endlessly interesting and complimented by John Barry's haunting score, "Enigma" delivers one cinematic pleasure after another.
The story, set in WWII, and based on real events, centers on Tom Jehrico (Dougray Scott), a brilliant codebreaker at Blenchly Park, who cracked the Nazi Enigma code. But now that code has been changed, and supplies that the British need for the war are in jeopardy. Not to mention the lives of the crews on those ships. Complicating matters is the disappearance of his ex-lover,Claire (Saffron Burrows), which has cast the shadow of suspicion over Tom as the possible traitor. Teaming with Claire's doudy roommate Hester (Kate Winslet), the two race to crack the code and unmask the traitor before hundreds of lives are lost. All the while, the mysterious Wigram (Jeremy Northam) seems to always be following them. . .
My summary of the plot simply doesn't do it justice. This film must be seen to be truly appreciated. Scott is great as the haggard, brilliant mathematician whose heart has been been broken, and Winslet is wonderful as the witty and underappreciated Hester. But the real standout is Jeremy Northam who steals every scene he is in, as the very dapper, and very suspicious Wigram.
The dialogue in the film crackles thanks to a great screenplay by Tom Stoppard which was based on the bestselling novel by Robert Harris. Do yourself a favor and check out this example of smart adult cinema.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
ENIGMA is an uncommonly intelligent suspense thriller that should please anyone interested in Britain's WWII code breaking efforts at Bletchley Park.
Dougray Scott plays Tom Jericho, a mathematician returning to duty after recovering from a mental breakdown suffered in an earlier stint at The Park while breaking the German military's Enigma code and, probably more to the point, falling for, and being dumped by, the local Tramp. Saffron Burrows is eye-popping as Claire, the blond and willowy femme fatale of the script. Anyway, the Nazis have since changed Enigma, and Tom is asked to help solve the cipher riddle once again before the U-boats decimate the Atlantic convoys. In one of the parallel plots, it's suspected that the Germans planted a spy at Bletchley Park. From evidence found under a floor board, Tom rightly or wrongly suspects Claire may be involved, but she's mysteriously disappeared. And who's buried in the mass grave the German Army is busy uncovering in Eastern Europe, and why has someone high up in the British command structure ordered that all radio intercepts from that enemy unit be ignored?
Scott is quite good in the role of the edgy, scruffy, emotionally tormented Jericho, as is Kate Winslet as Claire's frumpy roommate, Hester, recruited for the code-breaking unit because she won a crossword puzzle contest. I was particularly impressed with Jeremy Northam's Wigram, the intelligence investigator on hand to uncover the postulated enemy agent. In his dapper, glib persona, Wigram is vaguely reminiscent of Cary Grant, though the latter was never quite so oily. I never decided if I liked Wigram or not, but he was endlessly fascinating to watch operate.
It's historical fact that the war effort against Hitler was greatly facilitated by the Brit's ability to decode German military encryptions. ENIGMA is a richly photographed and costumed period piece - an intriguing glimpse inside the congregation of geniuses, misfits and eccentrics gathered together by the War Office to win the war in their own unique way. This film is unlikely to go into wide release, but the extra effort taken to search it out will be amply rewarded.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2002
I saw this movie while living in the UK this past four years. If you don't pay attention to History, this movie will not be that interesting because you will be looking for something "Hollywood-ish" that this picture does not nor never meant to portray. How exactly true it is to absolute fact is a matter of interpretation, but the major plot demonstrates a snapshot of the actual abilities and limitations of code "experts" during WWII and the critical nature of pursuing and breaking the Nazi Naval Enigma code. The "missing girlfriend" was just thrown in to spice up the plot and in no way was a major objective of the story line of the movie - the Enigma code was the principle character.
Winslet I believe applied some truth to human nature in being part of the story line representing part of the community of those hidden, anonymous or little known personages who were so critical to the Allies' victory over Nazi Germany. The intrigue was in the security aspects of code breakers and others working in the intelligence community at the time. It was an entertaining movie and definitely mirrored the facts of the era in Britian - a proud but devastating time. Go see it, you will enjoy.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I think this is one of the most literate and well-crafted movies to come out in the last 15 or 20 years. It tells the story of Tom Jericho, a math genius working at Bletchley Park during WWII. He and others are trying to break the variation of the Enigma code used by the German navy as their subs attack Allied convoys. Mixed into this is betrayal, conflicted feelings, the Katyn Massacre, romance, puzzles, and an instructive look at code breaking.
The screenplay is by Tom Stoppard, one of Britain's best playwrights, who has put together a literate, serious story, a believeable romance for grownups, and clever plot lines. Dougray Scott, as Jericho, and Kate Winslet, as Hester Wallace, are excellent. Scott for most of the time he's on screen looks exhausted and sad. The changes in his characterization as he slowly developes feelings for Winslet are subtle. Winslet sheds any glamor for the role. She wears round, black-rimmed glasses, is a little dumpy, but glows with intelligence. All the secondary parts are very well acted.
There's a lot going on in the movie, but the clues are all there. If you don't stay alert you'll lose enough of the thread to wonder what's going on, and you probably won't be able to catch up.
I think this is one of the rare instances where a movie is just as good as the book it's based on.
The DVD transfer is excellent.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2004
It is a provocative, intelligent, and well-done movie, however not strictly based on facts. In short, it's not a masterpiece, but I would still recommend this film to people interested in the history of the Second World War. However, it must be taken with a pinch of salt. The main plot of the movie is not correct. The movie unfolds around an inaccurate premise that the Germans used the Enigma machine to cipher messages related to massacre of Polish officers. It is obvious why the authors did it - it was a device to link Polish motif with the cracking of the Enigma code. It is the fact, the Poles were very helpful to the British intelligence in cracking the German Enigma code. They actually delivered the top secret German Enigma machine to the hands of the head of British intelligence, who personally met Polish courier at the London's Victoria station. It is true; the cracking the Enigma code was crucial for protecting the US-British Atlantic convoys against German U-boats. However, the movie does not do the Poles any service by portraying the Polish code-breaker as a traitor who was willing to sell the Germans top British secrets just to harm the Soviets (as a pay back for the massacre of the Polish officers). It is not clear why would he favor Germans over Russians. After all, it was the Germans who were currently clearing off the Polish lands for the German settlers following the Nazi policy of expanding 'Lebensraum' at the expense of (using their terminology) 'Slavic vermin'. On the other hand, why the Germans would be so stupid as to cipher the massages, which potentially would be so damaging for the alliance of their enemies? The reality is, the Germans openly radio broadcasted in April 1943 the facts about what they found in Katyn forest, hoping to damage Soviet-Polish and Soviet-British alliance. The fact is, they did just that, although more in the long run. In the sort run, only few people even in AK (Polish Army) leadership circle in London were willing to believe the information transmitted by the Germans. Even those few who did, the British were extremely annoyed with. But in the long run, this crime of Stalin and Beria's NKVD committed in Byelorussian (not Ukrainian, as in the movie) forest would cloud the Russian-Polish relations for many years to come. The movie is incorrect, but raises questions worth asking...
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2002
Columbia TriStar has released a new version of this DVD that addresses the incompatibility with Philips and Toshiba DVD players. Contact your DVD vendor for details.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2015
"Enigma" is full of deliberate inaccuracies. It inaccurately portrays Poles as helping the Nazis when they actually helped us break the enigma code.
Then, it distorted the truth about the main character. It's about Alan Turing, who was a gay man. He's turned into a tormented heterosexual because those who wrote, produced, acted in, and financed this lie, couldn't stand the fact that a gay man broke the enigma code, which cut the length of WWII by at least two years. In fact, had it not been for GAY MAN Alan Turing breaking the enigma code, the Nazis might've won the war.
Of course, even though Alan Turing helped us win the war, it didn't make much difference to him because the Brits bullied him, beat him up, prosecuted him, jailed him, chemically castrated him, and drove him into an early grave at age 41 -- which is pretty much what the Nazis did to homosexuals.
If you enjoy watching history perverted, you might enjoy this movie. If not, wait for The Imitation Game which is better written, acted, and more entertaining than this shameful farce.
If you think I'm being harsh, imagine if the new film "Selma" portrayed Martin Luther King, Jr. as a white man to appeal to a bigger audience...
I should've pointed out when I originally wrote this review that "Enigma" is not about the original cracking of the enigma code by Alan Turing and his team at Bletchley Park, even though some of the incidents in the film actually occurred during the original building of Alan Turing's code breaking computer. This movie combines Turing's further work at Bletchley to break the new and improved Nazi enigma machines with the apparently unrelated massacre of Polish soldiers by Stalin to create a spy thriller that trivializes and distorts what actually happened.
The events in this film, as distorted as they are, actually occurred after the story told in the new, excellent, and mostly accurate film, The Imitation Game - which by the way is based on the same book as the 1996 Masterpiece Theatre television production starring Derek Jacobi as Alan Turing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2006
I had never heard of this movie before and it was recommended to me by Amazon. I knew the story of Bletchley Park and of Alan Turing. I was truly surprise how good of a movie this was. It has very clever dialog, surprising action and many mysteries to be solved.
I had never seen the lead actor who plays Tom Jerico but his adaptation is superb. He looks and acts like a computer geek from the 80's except that he seems to get girls.
Kate Winslet is surprising as the beautiful geeky Hester Wallace. You really want to team up with her and follow her through the mystery. Saffron Burrows plays a great Harry Lime in the film from The Third man. Everybody is talking about her though the picture but you never really see her in first person. The color in the flashback sequences is brilliant giving more of a dream like look. The director explains this in the commentary.
Jeremy Northam is very sardonic in this movie as the super spy sleuth. He seems to have insight into every mystery but never seems to tell you how much he really knows.
My favorite part was the double code breaking scene and the action that went on there.
The extra on this DVD are better than average and give you some more insight into the movie.
This is one of the best spy movies that I have seen in a long while much better than most of the liberal self severing ones that I have seen recently like Syriana.
I would recommend this to people who like clever, action thrillers with some romance. I think it would be a great one to show to a date.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2002
This is not a Hollywood Thriller that lays the plot carefully out in front of you. You have to pay attention. This is not a love story. It is a war movie, that is not set on the front lines. It is a very real depiction of the work that was being done. Top secret work, vital work. It is a story of how important that work was, and what lengths Britian would go to to protect that insterest. A great movie with twists and a great show of what the folks back home went through. I obtained this movie as a DVD release from Europe. It is worth the effort to see... needs to go into wide release.