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Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2016
Love those stories about Bletchley Circle decoding work in WWII. This story has two plots that only diverge at the very end and then sort of tangentially, perhaps not critical to each other, but nevertheless interesting. This historical background regarding Poland, Russia, and the Nazis really brings out an important, and often overlooked, part of the War, and pre-war. A little bit of information regarding what the Russians did to Poland while they had a non-aggressive pact with Germany was, and is, an incredibly cruel incidence. Lots of people today have very little knowledge about what happened before the Germans attacked Russia. This will give them a little information, but it can go over their heads if they don't have some basic knowledge of that period. All in all a very good script and the characterization and acting is exceptional
Reviewed in the United States on February 21, 2015
One of the first to explore the WW2 Turing/Enigma story. Not bad. I enjoyed it and have watched it a few times. The movie is well paced, Dougray Scott puts in one his better performances. Kate Winslet is lovely as the very clever but awfully plain love interest #2. Saffron Burrows does Saffron Burrows impeccably and Jeremy Northam plays the MI5 lounge lizard to perfection. It didn't get as many review stars as I'd expected. It is a thundering good thriller, though it plays free with the actual facts. Though the main issues are covered. The value of Shark code, the loss of the naval code access because a new rotor was added. The movie concentrates on the thriller aspect rather than a realistic portrayal. Maybe that dampens the enthusiasm. But it is a gripping story with plenty of plot twists. Even if it does start to feel a bit like the 39 steps towards the end.
Being late middle age, and a certifiable "Movie Nut" it's a real pleasure to come across a modern movie of this quality. I very much regret not having seen it in a theater. It is always best to see a movie in a theater with other people.
The indoor and outdoor sets are extremely realistic, there are not a lot of special-effects, but they are superb.
I found "Enigma" to be vastly superior than the more recent "The Imitation Game".
Two MINOR criticisms of "Enigma":
1) They could have eliminated a 7 second sex scene and 2 of the 3 "F words" and received a PG-13 instead of a R rating. ( You can have 1 "F word" and still be PG-13. )
2) After watching this movie, you will probably stop using "The Cloud" for any personal information. Because you will know it could be accessed.
I recommend this movie if you like spy thrillers. It's a slow and chilling burn as you watch steely agent Sam Neill try to track and hunt down CIA agent Martin Sheen before he can acquire the Enigma machine. Sheen must move and think fast to accomplish his mission all while trying to save an old flame (Bridgitte Fossey) from the crossfire between himself and his determined foe (Neill). It's an oldie 80s flick, but still a goodie.
I remembered this movie from when I was a young teen. Decided to see if I could find it again and did here. This movie and the book capture a time before the big Iron Curtain came down. Great little movie that highlights some of the sacrifices those who lived and fought the Soviet. Very enjoyable to watch again. Martin Sheen and stunning French actress Brigitte Fossey and a young Sam Neil are worth watching this movie for.
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2016
If you know much about Bletchley or Enigma, or how seriously war secrets were kept at this place, this film is an utter farce. However, I am in favor of getting people interested in reading history and this is just the sort of entertainment that can introduce threads of historical fact when it is not taught in school. I do oppose the lack of credit given to the Poles in solving the intercepts. I am in favor of Jeremy Northam's performance. He is unfailingly excellent, but this took it up to 11.
Most people I have spoken to have little or no knowledge of the german enigma machine. If they have some awareness of its importance it was from watching the film U 571. The Blenchley park decoders ( the English) needed to break the code to shorten or even win the war .There is true genius on both sides of the enigma machine .One in its creation.the other in breaking of an almost impossiblecode What makes this movie exciting is there is a mystery within the enigma mystery decoders (redundancy intented). Kate Winslet is the heroine of the smaller mystery. I was surprised Alan Turing is not even mentioned in the film. Shame.Thats the equivalent of leaving out Robert Oppenheimers name when refering to Los Alamos and the atomic bomb. Thr story is informative and a nice piece of history that is not well known these days. Enigma is worth a watch and is enjoyable with a nice cast. Alot of liberty was taken in the making of this movie but it in the historical references it is fairly accurate.
I’ve seen this several times since its release, and have gone back to feeling a little bit sorry. My main draw was Kate Winslet, who as ever, is excellent despite having a smaller role than in most of her films. I had to import to get a DVD with EXTRAS as once again these are not in the European version. They are interesting – 2 documentaries, a trailer, 3 deleted scenes and a well planned director’s commentary – well, to start with any way.
The size of writer Tom Stoppard’s brain is mentioned as much in extras as Tom Jericho’s in the story, but I don’t think this film is satisfactorily told. The book has less romance which is a shame; but the film, in less time, tries to beef this up and misses. I would have liked more scenes between the love triangle so that the final couple feels more convincing.
Much of the drama happens in huts and homes, until they suddenly decide to make it an action movie; this fictional Alan Turing type doesn’t just have a wonderful brain, but can sprint like a leopard, and do shooting and fisticuffs too. His fists are irritating wastes of screentime each time they’re used.
Tom’s reason to find Claire is obvious – she’s his romantic interest. Hester’s is the same, but I don’t think we fully get that as an audience. In the book, it’s more spelt out; but the scene where Hester’s attraction to Claire is shown comes after Hester has joined Tom in looking for her. And to go off with a near stranger at such risk (they do break the law and official secrets act several times) you would need to make Hester’s reasons much clearer. Hester and Claire aren’t particularly close, so you need that romantic draw to fill in what an absent deep friendship might have supplied in giving Hester an impetus.
I think flashing to the Polish forest prewarns us of too much.
The EXTRAS show some cuts made to the denouement where Claire’s fate is revealed earlier; I think it’s right that the theatrical release keeps it hidden. There’s too much information in these alternative, original scenes – more Scooby doo than Enigmatic; yet what’s left isn’t quite enough and omits a powerfully emotional, life changing moment for Claire.
A thinking war film is certainly something I’d welcome, but this isn’t entirely what I would have hoped for, whether that’s partly my war views and film tastes; but I don’t think it’s entirely successful at its own game. Jeremy Northam’s character annoyed me so much I fast forwarded him – I disagree with the director that it’s a rich part. We don’t see how or why the final codes are broken – they just are, without a reasoning that steps up the unlocking.
Whereas I think Robert Harris’ book does present some issues with wartime ethics of how the military recruited and treated its own people, the film veers towards heroism and hagiography, and that disappoints and makes it a less complex and satisfying film.
5.0 out of 5 starsI'm glad I'd read the book first!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 24, 2013
The story initially focuses on the horrendous problems caused when the Germans change the ciphers used to encode wireless traffic to and from their U-boat fleet in the North Atlantic. Bletchley is suddenly unable to read this traffic and, with three major convoys on their way from the USA to the UK, the potential for an horrific disaster is enormous.
The sudden disappearance of the girlfriend of one of the Bletchley code breakers suggests she may somehow be involved in warning the Germans that their supposedly unbreakable codes are being routinely broken. The ensuing investigation is complicated when it suddenly becomes apparent that the appalling 1940 atrocity at Katyn - the execution of 20,000+ members of the Polish officer corps by the Russians - is somehow involved.
And, behind all this, is the overriding pressure on the code breakers to crack the German U-boat codes within a matter of hours rather than months...
The movie is extremely fast moving and I suspect that, without having read the thriller behind the movie - Robert Harris' Enigma - I may easily have missed some of the twists in this complex and brilliantly produced movie.
To me, the movie handled the atrocity called Katyn somewhat better than the book. In the movie you are aware, from quite early on, that something extremely unpleasant is lurking in the background. In the book the Katyn element surfaces only in the latter pages.
So treat yourself: read Enigma (plus, if you want more background, Ultra Goes to War and The Ultra Secret) then watch the movie !
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 11, 2016
Great admirer of Director, Michael Apted - also regular visitor to Bletchley Park over many years. Why could they not have filmed at BP rather than at another location. At the time this film was made (2001) Bletchley was run almost entirely by keen - but well informed volunteers - and they could have done with the cash generated by using the Park as the film location. I appreciate that this is a work of fiction and that the odd assortment of people who worked at Bletchley - from cryptic crossword buffs to outstanding linguists - but I did find the cavalier approach of a Royal Navy officer to his superior just a little OTT. In short, it lacked credibility. That said, it was an enjoyable film with haunting theme music by John Barry.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood storyline, well directed film
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2020
Purists love to argue over authenticity of films about Enigma and Bletchley Park. Storyline of film is slightly different to book but if you watch it as fiction based on real events like any other war film, it's excellent entertainment. Screenplay is by Tom Stoppard, which lifts the film above the average of the genre.
5.0 out of 5 starsWWII Bletchley Park exists again
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 8, 2011
SAFE READING - FEW SPOILERS
Take two writers, Robert Harris and Tom Stoppard; unite them with a great director like Michael Apted and add Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Saffron Burrows and a host of others, and what do you achieve? In 2001, a superb film called "Enigma", the film of Robert Harris's book of the same name.
Robert Harris understands the top levels of government and its secrets. His careful, detailed and thorough research into the wartime world of secrets ensured that this book is a page-turner peopled by eccentric geniuses, spies, hard-pressed military personnel, initially naïve individuals and amoral (in normal human terms), tough and patriotic characters. Into this rich mix of people, he throws unrequited love, Atlantic convoys, preying wolf packs and a vital and desperate need to crack a highly secret, sophisticated code to save the world from the evil of Nazism. Throughout the book, characters face challenging moral dilemmas stemming from their wartime existence and their unknown, clandestine world; some would affect only them while others would affect the western world and change the course of history.
The people above, coupled with a large team of superb designers who obviously did detailed and comprehensive research, brought Bletchley Park alive again but not just as a strange and hidden world of secrets. These code-breakers become real people with all the usual frailties and the additional temptations only wartime could create.
* Do not talk at meals ... * Do not talk in the transport ... * Do not talk travelling ... * Do not talk in the billet ... * Do not talk by your own fireside ... * Be careful even in your Hut ...
In May 1942, this was the opening of the individual security form for personnel at Bletchley Park, the top secret WWII code-breaking establishment without which, many experts argue, the Allies would not have won the war. After signing the official secret act (established in 1939), the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) moved to Bletchley Park on 15 August 1939 where, for the rest of the war, the vital intelligence produced from decrypts at Bletchley was code-named "Ultra".
The staff ranged from humble kitchen staff, secretaries, administrators and, at the top of the hierarchy, were the code-breakers, a group of (often eccentric) geniuses who lived, for the most part, inside their heads, wrestling with the secret messages being passed between the Axis powers.
The film-making team have taken Harris's words off the pages and brought Bletchley Park alive again. As often happens with films, when I read the books again, Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Saffron Burrows fill the pages with images I cannot escape. More often than not, I object but can do nothing about the imprinted images. In the case of "Enigma", not only do I not object, I am quite happy. They are the characters for me.
5.0 out of 5 starsThe life of Alan Turren, recommended watch
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 29, 2019
This film gives focuses on the life of Alan Turren and how he had difficulty interacting with people. He had a girl friend who was happy to marry him but because of his homosexuality and the difference in the Latin those days, he came to a very sad end. An absolutely must watch film if you are interested in the goings on in Bletchley Park and the life of a very clever but misunderstood man.
4.0 out of 5 starsGood performances and an engaging story line based around one of the most important contributions of the war effort
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 2, 2014
I recently visited Bletchley Park and was curious to watch a movie with the amazing work the cryptographers did there, set as a backdrop. It is an entertaining storyline that is filled with intrigue and dry humour and moves along at a good pace. Even though my wife did not share my interest in the subject, she still found the story interesting and say's she enjoyed the film. Good performances from the entire cast and some lovely 'on location' scenes also add to the film. As far as portraying the story of the codebreakers, this is not a documentary. Many of the events mentioned in the film actually happened but the characters in the story are not portraying actual persons involved. From what I saw on display at Bletchley Park, the lifestyle and operations of Bletchley seem to be well presented, although it was filmed in Hertfordshire and not at the actual location. All in all an enjoyable film.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2017
Scene: Bletchley Park, March 1943. Plot: A broken-hearted codebreaker (Dougray Scott) seeks to unravel the disappearance of his former girlfriend Claire (Saffron Burrows), assisted by her best friend and flatmate, Hester (Kate Winslet). More than ably-directed by Michael Apted, this is truly one of the best cloak-and-dagger mysteries for many years, with an abundance of sub-plots creating both a sense of impending menace and wartime emergency. (I could tell you much more, but that would be spoiling it.) Full of fine performances, mood, settings and 1940s wardrobe as only the British can do it. Look for cameos of Mick Jagger and sadly-departed Lorne. A hauntingly beautiful score by late, great John Barry sets the mood, managing to convey romance, mystery, menace and stoicism and adding to the tension - worthy of purchase on its own. Sit back, ponder that great age of heroism amidst dark times, and enjoy.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 16, 2019
I have not read the book but I like Dougray Scott as an actor and was interested in this film . Story is a bit complicated but the acting is good especially Tom Hollander and Kate Winslet. Worth a watch.
2.0 out of 5 starsDisappointing rehash of an excellent book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 13, 2014
Well if you have read the excellent book by Robert Harris you are probably going to be disappointed. The book's atmospheric and carefully crafted plot has benen disassembled and patched together to fit a standard commercial film format. Nothing unusual there I suppose, but when it results in a somewhat dull and illogical screenplay, shallow characterisations and a lack of believabilty it can only irritate. I can just imagine Tom Stoppard thinking 'how on earth am I going to get this into an hour and three quarters. I know I'll cut the book up into bits and reformat it, take out the intellectual bits and give it a big bang ending. All the gaps and lack of rational storyline can be filled in with the odd informative dialogue from the policeman.
On the positive side, the film is visually strong so at least it helps to reinforce the scenes from the book, but it is a long way off the far more satisfying Polanski film version of 'The Ghost'. In conclusion, a wasted opportunity and don't be concerned if you don't get it, just get the book…
5.0 out of 5 starsI am pleased that films such as Enigma have focused attention on ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2015
This quiet, unassuming film is absolutely worth watching. There are some fabulous performances from the cast who completely hold their own with the stellar Kate Winslet. It's odious to single out any one in particular but a quick plug for Tom Hollander. His character is not a major part but each time he is on the screen, he has this watchable quality that makes it hard to take your eyes off him.
I had had the privilege of visiting Bletchley Park previously and had found its state of disrepair and delapidation profoundly upsetting, inappropriate and disrespectful. I am pleased that films such as Enigma have focused attention on Bletchley Park as a site of national if not international significance.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 31, 2015
Love this film....... based on fact with intrigue and some romance thrown in. A must for all Dougray Scott fans.........and if you are interested also in the history of WW2 , then it's an absolute gem, I watch it regularly, never tire of seeing it. The musical score by John Barry just adds to the magic. Perfection in film.
thanks to tom stoppard's re-writing/script, the picture is as good as the novel; his ending is quite predictable and totally different from the novel but then, it's a picture. the acting is excellent as well. the unique element i really disliked is the fact that in front of our eyes it's no bletchley park at all but a lambda mansion !