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Enigma (2001 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Apted
Produced by Mick Jagger
Lorne Michaels
Screenplay by Tom Stoppard
Based on Enigma 
by Robert Harris
Starring Dougray Scott
Kate Winslet
Jeremy Northam
Saffron Burrows
Tom Hollander
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Seamus McGarvey
Edited by Rick Shaine
Distributed by BVI (UK)
Manhattan Pictures (US)
Release dates
  • 22 January 2001 (2001-01-22) (Sundance)
  • 18 August 2001 (2001-08-18) (Edinburgh)
  • 28 September 2001 (2001-09-28) (UK)
  • 19 April 2002 (2002-04-19) (US)
Running time
119 min.
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $15,705,007 (Worldwide)[1]

Enigma is a 2001 Espionage thriller 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 the Second World War. 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, and does not give due credit to the Polish cryptanalysis foundation Cipher Bureau.


  • Plot 1
  • Main cast 2
  • Production and premiere 3
  • Criticism 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The story, loosely based on actual events, takes place in March 1943, when the Second World War 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 out of fear that the 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 Bletchley, 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, Scotland and the Netherlands, with Bletchley Park mansion substituted by Chicheley Hall.[2] Other locations include the Great Central Railway, Loughborough and Tigh Beg Croft, Oban, isles of Scotland. Interiors were filmed at Elstree Film Studios.[3]

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 scaled-down model of a Second World War U-boat used in the film. The model was donated to the Bletchley Park museum.

The film—and by association the book—have attracted criticism for their portrayal of the Polish role in Enigma decryption.[4] The historian Norman Davies argues 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,[5] while historically, the only known traitor active at Bletchley Park was British spy John Cairncross, who passed crucial secrets to the Soviet Union.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Enigma at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  2. ^ Sleeve notes from DVD.
  3. ^ Locations for EnigmaIMDb: Retrieved 2013-04-01
  4. ^ Norman Davies oskarża "Enigmę"|lang=pl
  5. ^ How Poles cracked Nazi Enigma secret, Laurence Peter, BBC News, 20 July 2009
  6. ^ - BBC News, 13 September 1999The Cambridge spy ring Retrieved 2007-08-09.

External links

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