Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Movie review? Enigma

Here is a film you may like if you are a bit geeky and haven’t seen it:

Enigma (2001)

What is it?
A low key drama / love story about code breakers fighting to break the German enigma code during World War II

Who is in it?
Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam, Tom Hollander, Matthew McFadyen, other people.

Quick Plot:
Tom Jericho is a code breaker based at Bletchley park, recalled to help break enigma again after the Germans mysteriously change the code mid-war. Interleaved with the code breakers attempts to break the code, is a love story between him and fellow Bletchley park worker Claire Rommelly, and a spy story based around a ‘mole’  feeding information to the Germans. There is little to zero action or spectacle. Only one bullet is fired as I recall. And the car chase may disappoint smokey and the bandit fans.

What’s Bad about it:
Some fairly cringeworthy romantic scenes and dialog. An annoyingly repetitive musical theme. A few fairly contrived and convenient plot devices. Some general purpose stereotyping of maths geeks.

What’s good about it:
It’s about the birth of computing AND fighting WW2. What’s not to like? Plus a great supporting cast, and a good script in places. Surprisingly historically accurate (glosses over alan turing though, presumably because they wanted a heterosexual love story). Also, it treats you like you are paying attention, and doesn’t break down the complexity of the core topic (encryption) to sub kindergarten levels like many Hollywood movies would.
The plot is complex enough to keep you guessing.

Best Scene:
Tom Jerichos explanation on how enigma works to the American General. This is the way all programmer should speak to their boss when asked that irritating question “How long will it take?”

Best Character:
Jeremy Northam was born to be the slimey, suspicious and sarcastic British Intelligence chief.

Best Quote:
“Given the circumstances, Miss Wallace, I think we might risk first names.”

Buy it or Rent it. It’s good :D

I’m working on both an expansion, and some UI improvements for Gratuitous Space Battles. I’ll blog on them when they are ready.

6 thoughts on Movie review? Enigma

  1. Archangel was a better novel :oP Although Fatherland went to film and won some awards, i reckon its due an update given the rise of the EU (SSR)

  2. I’m not sure I ever want to see this film… it’s pretty disgusting that anyone would make a movie about Bletchly Park whilst ignoring Turing… because he’s gay. That borders on homophobic historic revisionism.

  3. whos this Turing bloke ..?

    revisionisim? next you’ll be telling me the original Enigma codes were’nt snaffled by a Yank Sub..!

  4. Speaking about revisionism and historical accuracy: Poles weren’t invited to Bletchley, and they did break the Enigma long before anyone heard about Turing, straight or gay.

  5. visiting bletchley is a real eye opener, and turing and the team worked miracles there. when colossus was built, the uk could decipher messages faster than some of the germans. yes, the poles came up with the initial concept of cracking the codes, but the crew at bletchley took it a lot further. instead of taking months, it took hours… even minutes sometimes. breaking the lorenz cipher was a truly staggering achievement.

    alan turing was undoubtedly a genius, and “glossing” over him is a total travesty.

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