War has always fascinated us. We have had stories of great heroism and villainy occur at the same time. These stories have been turned into some amazing films such as the Battle of Britain, The Longest Day and many more. There are also inspiring stories of the people behind the front-lines, whose work and dedication changed the course of the war. I am talking about the codebreakers, of course. Out of all them, the most famous is Alan Turing. Also known as the father of modern computing, his work at Bletchley Park is said to have shortened the Second World War by at least 2 years. At the center of this work was the Enigma machine. Here are four films that take a look into the fascinating world of codebreaking:
1. Breaking the Code:
This was a TV movie that was adapted from a play of the same name. Starring Derek Jacobi and directed by Herbert Wise, Breaking the Code traced the life of Alan Turing. The film was notable because the play it was based on had an amazing run at Broadway. The play was nominated for multiple Tony Awards, including Best Actor.
This film had all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster. Big names in the cast, near complete fictional story and a submarine. U-571 is a movie about the hunt for the Enigma machine. At the time, the U-boats were wreaking havoc on shipping. So to capture the machine and its code-books was considered as high priority. The movie starred Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi, just to name a few. They play U.S. submariners who, through subterfuge, manage to board a German submarine and capture her Enigma machine. Largely fiction but quite successful at the box-office, U-571 was one of those movies that brought Enigma’s story to the forefront.
Directed by Michael Apted, Enigma was based on a book by the same name. It starred Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott, Jeremy Northam and Nikolaj Coster Waldau. In this film, the story is centered on the Enigma machine itself. Along with the plots and counter-plots that were taking place. In the background, the German Navy have changed their codes. Now it is a race against time to crack the new codes and ensure that the convoys keep coming. The movie didn’t stay fully true to the story of the codebreakers, but it is definitely worth a watch.
4. The Imitation Game:
Releasing this year, The Imitation Game takes its name from one of Alan Turing’s papers. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in this historical thriller. The movie gives us an insight into one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. Set in Bletchley Park, during the height of the U-boat menace, Turing attempts to break the Enigma cipher. The cipher was considered so secure that the Germans used it for nearly all communications. Backed by Churchill, the boys from Bletchley Park had to race to break the code. In doing so, Alan Turing gave the world some of the most elegant theories of computing and cryptography. The film also stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Charles Dance.
So are you intrigued? Catch The Imitation Game on the big screen and see for yourself that “Behind every code is an Enigma.”