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Enigma - Michael Apted, Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows, Kate Winslet

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Crack the code.

In March 1943 the code-breakers at Bletchley Park, Britain's top secret Station X, are facing their worst nightmare: Nazi U-Boats have unexpectedly changed the code by which they communicate with each other and German high command. An allied merchant shipping convoy crossing the Atlantic with 10,000 passengers and vital supplies is in danger of attack. The authorities turn for help to Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott), a brilliant young mathematician and code breaker. Unknown to his colleagues, Jericho has another equally baffling enigma of his own to unravel: Claire (Saffron Burrows), the woman with whom he has fallen in love, has disappeared from Bletchley just when the authorities suspect there may be a spy at the park. To get to the bottom of both mysteries he enlists the help of Hester (Kate Winslet), Claire's best friend. Together they keep one step ahead of the secret services and investigate Claire's mysterious life, reaching a conclusion that uncovers international and personal betrayals.

Also starring Jeremy Northam, Martin Glyn Murray, Tom Hollander, Matthew Macfayden, Robert Pugh, Nikolaj Waldau, Lee Montague, Corin Redgrave and Nicholas Rowe. Written by Tom Stoppard from the novel by Robert Harris, directed by Michael Apted.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

A slight re-writing of history but nothing on the scale of U-571, in which whole countries were swapped around. Enigma changes the main character's sexuality from homo to hetero. Tom is, of course, based on Alan Turing, the great British mathematician who ushered in the computer age. After the war, the USA felt that his sexuality was a threat to security so pressured the UK to downgrade Alan's status on his own project. Not long thereafter, he committed suicide by injecting an apple with poison and then eating it (this is the origin of the apple logo). That's one small step for bigots, one giant leap backward for humankind.

Apart from that significant piece of homophobia (gay people can be funny sidekicks but not heroes), Enigma has several things going for it.

  1. Mystery: whenever beautiful women go missing it's a cause for concern, especially when she's been seducing everyone with two legs and a pulse.
  2. Thrills: the fate of thousands of seamen and millions of tonnes of materiel lies in the hands of a few overworked and under appreciated geeks.
  3. Glory: war. Nuff said.
  4. History: secret documents released after fifty years finally reveal one story of how Britain won the war in Europe (with a little help from friends).
  5. Justice: just because you're working for the good guys doesn't mean that you're a good guy yourself, or that you'll get what you deserve. Or that you won't.

Dougray Scott is a study in battered insanity. It's a speciality of his which you will either love or hate. Saffron Burrows and Kate Winslet have less to do as they're only there to make life interesting for Dougray. Jeremy Northam wanders through his part as the man of mystery, little more than a Cypher in a battle of wits, ideals and personalities (pun intended). Everyone else is little more than a warm prop.

If you grew up on heroic tales of the second world war then Enigma will carry you back to a time when stockings were applied with an eyebrow pencil and men didn't need Viagra to keep a stiff upper lip. It's something of a companion piece to Das Boot, albeit a somewhat less remarkable one, but that's no reason not to see it.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Features:
    • Behind-the-scenes
    • Biographies: Cast and crew
    • Interviews: Cast and crew
    • Featurette
    • Trailers: Theatrical
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 1.78:1
  • Subtitles: English

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes, low level violence, low level sex scenes)

Surveillance time

119 minutes (1:59 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 25 October 2001
DVD rental: 13 March 2002
VHS rental: 13 March 2002
DVD retail: 10 July 2002
VHS retail: 10 July 2002

Cinema surveillance images

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