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Enigma is a 2001 British film about the Enigma codebreakers of Bletchley Parkmarker in World War II. The film, directed by Michael Apted, stars Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet. The film's screenplay was by Tom Stoppard and is based on the novel Enigma by Robert Harris.

Set in 1943 amidst the largest convoy deployment from the US to Britain, cryptanalyst Tom Jericho returns to Bletchley Park to help find the code to the U-Boats' Enigma communications. On finding a cypher containing highly classified information, hidden by a former lover who has gone missing, he attempts to solve the code while working on cracking the German U-Boat code against a background of subterfuge, spies and the Katyn massacremarker.

The film was co-produced by Mick Jagger, who provided funding for the film, as well as access to his own Enigma machine. It was shot in England, Scotland and the Netherlands. Critical reviews were largely positive, although there was criticism of the largely fictional storyline which does not mention the real codebreaker Alan Turing.


The story takes place in March 1943 with the Second World War at its height and is loosely based on actual events. The cryptanalysts at Bletchley Parkmarker, Buckinghamshire, Englandmarker, have a problem: the Nazi U-boats have increased the security of key-changing of their Enigma machine ciphers, leading to a blackout in the flow of naval vital signals intelligence. This could spell disaster in the critical Battle of the Atlantic, on whose outcome Britain's survival depends. The British cryptanalysts have cracked the "shark" cipher once before, and they need to do it again in order to keep track of U-boat locations and steer shipping convoys out of their way.

The plot follows the fictional character of the brilliant but maverick working class mathematician Tom Jericho (played by Dougray Scott). He is returned to Bletchley Park from Cambridgemarker to assist with the crisis after recovering from a nervous breakdown brought on by overwork combined with an unhappy love affair with Claire Romilly (Saffron Burrows), who works at Bletchley. Jericho immediately tries to see Claire again and finds that she mysteriously disappeared a few days earlier. He enlists the help of Claire's blue stocking housemate Hester Wallace (Kate Winslet), also working at Bletchley, to follow the trail of clues and learn what has happened to Claire.

Mr. Jericho and Miss Wallace, as they formally address each other, repeatedly break the rules of the Bletchley Park establishment and the law as their hunt for Claire gets more intense, especially after they discover that she's stolen and hidden some uncoded messages.

Jericho is closely watched by a suave MI5marker agent Wigram (Jeremy Northam), who plays cat and mouse with him throughout the film. But Jericho's eccentricities are tolerated at the Park, despite his transgressions, because of the brilliant plan he devises for uncovering the new code key. The plan may unfortunately mean sacrificing at least one Allied convoy to the U-boats.

The film follows events as signals intelligence see a convoy spotted and then hunted down by the U-boats, but this gives enough information for the new key to be analysed using electro mechanical Bombe devices.

Tom and Hester's highly unofficial research uncovers a British government plot to bury the intelligence information of the Katyn massacremarker for fear it might weaken American willingness to remain in the war on the same side as Stalin.

This in turn leads to their suspicion that a Polish cryptanalyst, Jozef 'Puck' Pukowski (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) working at the Park may have been so incensed by his own learning of the massacre – which claimed the life of his brother – that he is prepared to betray Bletchley's secrets to the Nazis in order to take revenge on Stalin.

Jericho trails Puck to Scotlandmarker and catches up with him just as he's about to be taken on board a U-boat. But Wigram and the police have been trailing them both and the U-boat is bombed and sunk.

A short scene after the War sees Jericho and Hester married with a child on the way. It is implied that Claire, who was revealed to be an agent planted by Wigram, is still missing and unaccounted for. She is, however, spotted by Jericho as he waits on some steps for Hester (though it was possible that this was a hallucination, as she was wearing an evening dress and fur stole).

Main cast

Production and premiere

The film was shot on location in England and Scotland with Bletchley Park mansion substituted by Chicheley Hallmarker. Other locations include the Great Central Railway Loughboroughmarker and Tigh Beg Croft, Oban. Interiors were filmed at Elstree Film Studios.

The film was part-financed by Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones. Jagger makes a cameo appearance as an RAF officer at a dance. He also lent the film's design department a four-rotor Enigma encoding machine he owned to ensure the historical accuracy of one of the props. The festivities around the London premiere of the film are shown in the 2001 documentary Being Mick.

During the premiere in Edinburghmarker, Dougray Scott stayed for only fifteen minutes of the film. He went to a nearby pub to watch a Scottish Premier League football match between Rangers and his favourite team Hibernian. Co-producer Mick Jagger stayed away altogether.


The film - and by association the book - have attracted criticism for their portrayal of the Polishmarker role in Enigma decryption. Critics argue that in the film the fictitious traitor turns out to be Polish whilst only slight mention is made of the contributions of pre-war Polishmarker Cipher Bureau cryptologists to Allied Enigma decryption efforts, while historically, the only known traitor active at Bletchley Park was British spy John Cairncross who passed crucial secrets to the Soviet Unionmarker.

The film has also been criticised for substituting the character of Jericho for Alan Turing. Jericho, who is clearly a stand-in for Turing, drops references to the Entscheidungsproblem and Turing machines, but is heterosexual and provides the love interest to the film (Turing was homosexual and prosecuted as such under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, he 'accepted' chemical castration via estrogen hormone injections and suffered further ostracism until his possible suicide in 1954). .

See also


  1. Sleeve notes from DVD.
  2. Locations at the Internet Movie Database, URL accessed October 3, 2009
  3. Norman Davies oskarża "Enigmę" lang=pl
  4. How Poles cracked Nazi Enigma secret, Laurence Peter, BBC News, 20 July 2009
  5. The Cambridge spy ring - BBC News, 13 September 1999.Retrieved on 2007-08-09.
  6. Enigma film review

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