We’ve been celebrating a renaissance these past few months with the release of “Enemy at the Gates” and “U-571” on DVD. Great movies that have great acting and as historically accurate movies made in Hollywood could allow. Now a new movie is ready to join the ranks of these and many World War 2 dramas as another movie is ready to be added to the pile of Flicks that will hold you over...
One of the best World War 2 stories not yet told on screen was that of the German “Enigma” code machine –until now. This is the ultimate spy story, the stuff that James Bond movies are made of… secret code machine, teams of eccentric geniuses (few who are on the brink of insanity) feverishly searching for the master codes for the encryption machines, cloak and dagger, double agents and double crosses, and other intrigue. What also makes this the ultimate spy story is that it really happened – while civilization and millions of lives was at stake.
One of the best things Enigma has going for it is the set up. Other movies trying to tackle heavy subject matter such as historical dramas spend too much time building up the background. Enigma does a fine job of filling out the historical facts as part of the story. The buildup of why and what they had to do was seamlessly interwoven into fabric of the narrative and it does it in such dramatic fashion that the audience becomes quickly aware of the necessity to break the codes. The viewer is able feels the desperation, the hopelessness and urgency with out drowning in the technological aspects.
Even though most of us know the general out come of the story [Yanks and Brit’s win, Nazi’s lose.] it’s not clear until the last 15 minutes of the movie what’s going to happen to these particular characters. Dougray Scott’s lead as Tom Jericho is a melancholy yet brilliant mathematician whose obsession with a lost love brings him to the brink of madness and uncovers a plot that could spell certain doom for the allies. Kate Winslet’s is totally distinct from the roll that made a household name in "Titanic" in performance deserving another Oscar nod. Hester (Winslet) pulls all the pieces of this tail of intrigue together and becomes more then a consolation for Jericho’s lost love in Claire (Saffron Burrows). Meanwhile, Wigram (Jeremy Northam) is just creepy as the British agent who’s either out to solve a war time murder or hold the pieces together of a treacherous conspiracy.
The only down side to this movie is that there's an enormous wealth of information about this aspect of World War II that really happened, this movie does an excellent job giving its audience a broad view of WW-II espionage but it's only a partial view to a large and pivotal roll in winning the war against Germany and The Nazis. "Enigma" could have very easily been drawn out into a multi-part mini-series with any loss of tension, drama, intrigue or mystery.
With the exception of a brief ”Nocturnal Activities and primitive mating rituals” scene and occasional dark subject matter that would seem tame by any casual cable television subscriber, this movie is pretty much safe for all viewers. This movie is more then enough to whet your appetite for more World War II Espionage and Intrigue and thankfully not enough to satisfy it. "Enigma" is a Fedora Chronicles Essential Spy Thriller...
PBS - SECRETS OF THE DEAD . The Hunt for Nazi Scientists: "In the closing months of World War II, defeat was looming for the Germans. The invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 -- D-Day -- opened a second Allied front, and the Allies began overtaking a host of German positions; Paris was liberated on August 25; Romania and Bulgaria surrendered in quick succession. But the Nazis did not intend to go down without a fight -- and without inflicting as much damage as possible on the Allies. To do so, they employed or planned to employ an increasingly deadly array of military weapons -- from ballistic missiles to rocket planes to, perhaps, the atomic bomb."
PBS Nova: "Decoding Nazi Secrets"
Enigma machine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "The plugboard, keyboard, lamps and finger-wheels of the rotors emerging from the inner lid of a three-rotor German military Enigma machine..."
Enigma Simulator - The German Enigma Cipher Machine. Technical and historical information, message procedures and software simulations.
IMDB: Enigma (2001) - Cast/credits plus additional information about the film.