- Actors: Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Saffron Burrows, Jeremy Northam, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
- Directors: Michael Apted
- Writers: Robert Harris, Tom Stoppard
- Producers: Ate de Jong, David Brown, Guy East, Hanno Huth, Jeanney Kim
- Format: PAL
- Language: English, German
- Subtitles: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish
- Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Disney
- DVD Release Date: 5 Aug. 2002
- Run Time: 114 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 190 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00006AFGO
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,347 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Widescreen 1.78:1 format
Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English for the hearing impaired, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish
Codebreaking is an inherently fascinating but not especially cinematic endeavour, which is why Enigma spices up the true story of Bletchley Park and its eclectic group of Nazi code-cracking geniuses with some fictional romance and intrigue. Dougray Scott plays gaunt mathematician Tom Jericho, haunted by the spectre of his missing girlfriend Claire (self-consciously gorgeous Saffron Burrows). Tom turns to Claire's frumpy housemate Hester Wallace (dressed-down Kate Winslet) to help him find her, but their search unexpectedly reveals the presence of a spy at Bletchley Park. Matters are further complicated by an investigating secret service agent (imperturbable Jeremy Northam) and the hostility of Jericho's superiors.
Based on the novel by Robert Harris and adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard, Enigma is unsurprisingly a literate and accomplished piece, unfussily directed by Michael Apted who keeps the various current and flashback story threads moving neatly in parallel, helped along by a languid score from veteran John Barry and a vividly realised wartime setting ("Have you heard the latest? Utility knickers--one yank and they're off!"). The contrived plot, however, distracts from the real drama, which is to be found in the desperate struggle to decipher the Enigma machine codes and the sometimes terrible ethical dilemmas involved. A little like that other Kate Winslet film, Titanic, this is another example of the factual background being far more compelling than the fiction grafted on top.
On the DVD: Engima arrives on disc in an extras-free package, with only scene selection and subtitles. More than one excellent documentary has been made about Alan Turing and his team of Bletchley Park codebreakers, so it's doubly disappointing to have nothing here on the real-life events depicted in the movie. Picture is widescreen 1.78:1 and sound Dolby 5.1 surround.--Mark WalkerSee all Product description
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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 !
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.
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