Enigma Information

Enigma is a 2001 Anglo-American film directed by Michael Apted from a screenplay by Tom Stoppard. The script was adapted from the novel Enigma by Robert Harris, about the Enigma codebreakers of Bletchley Park in World War II. This was the final film to be scored by John Barry.

In 1943 amid the largest convoy deployment from the US to Britain, cryptanalyst Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott) returns to Bletchley Park to help the codebreaking team reacquire their ability to read U-Boats' Enigma communications. Obsessed with his missing former girlfriend Claire (Saffron Burrows), he and Claire's roommate Hester (Kate Winslet), also employed at Bletchley, work on unraveling the mystery of Claire's disappearance. Although the story is highly fictionalised, the process of encrypting German messages during World War II and decrypting them with the Enigma is discussed in detail, and the historical event of the Katyn Massacre is highlighted.

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, nor give due credit to the Polish cryptanalysis foundation Cipher Bureau.


The story, loosely based on actual events, takes place in March 1943, when World War II was at its height. The cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, have a problem: the Nazi U-boats have changed one of their code reference books used for Enigma machine ciphers, leading to a blackout in the flow of vital naval signals intelligence. 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.

The film begins with Jericho returning to Bletchley after a month recovering from a nervous breakdown brought on by his failed love affair with Claire. Jericho immediately tries to see her again and finds that she mysteriously disappeared a few days earlier. He enlists the help of Claire's housemate Hester Wallace, to follow the trail of clues and learn what has happened to Claire.

Mr. Jericho and Miss Wallace, as they formally address each other, work to decipher intercepts stolen by Claire and determine why she took them. Jericho is closely watched by an MI5 agent, Wigram (Jeremy Northam), who plays cat and mouse with him throughout the film. Meanwhile U-Boats closing in on one of the ship convoys from America allow Jericho and the team to work on breaking back into reading Shark.

Jericho and Hester's research uncovers the British government's cover-up of the Katyn Massacre for fear knowledge of it might weaken American willingness to remain in the war on the same side as Joseph Stalin.

Cryptanalyst Jozef 'Puck' Pukowski (Nikolaj Coster Waldau), working at the Park, learned of Katyn from Claire and was so incensed by the massacre " which claimed the life of his brother " that he set about betraying Bletchley's secrets to the Nazis in order to take revenge on Stalin.

Claire is presumed dead as Jericho trails Puck to Scotland and catches up with him just as he is about to be taken on board a U-boat, but Wigram and the police have been waiting for the sub and it is bombed and sunk.

A short scene after the war sees Jericho and Hester married with a child on the way. As Jericho waits for her in London, he notices Claire walking across the square.

Main cast

Production and premiere

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

The film was produced 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.


The film"?and by association the book"?have attracted criticism for their portrayal of the Polish role in Enigma decryption. Critics argue that in the film the fictitious traitor turns out to be Polish, while only slight mention is made of the contributions of prewar Polish 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 Union.

The so-called "Greatest Convoy Battle" took place between 7 and 11 March 1943 (10 convoys and 38 German submarines in Atlantic), although in the movie it seems to be represented as occurring at the end of April 1943.

See also

  • U-571 (2000)
  • Cryptanalysis of the Enigma
  • Enigma machine
  • Ultra

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Enigma_%282001_film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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