So, a little bit more about the British Science Association Sci Screen event last night.
I had high hopes for this one. The last Sci Screen I went to was Krakatoa which had a rather poor film but a really good discussion afterwards. This time, I knew I’d already seen the film and enjoyed it, and I wanted to find out what the discussion would entail.
The speaker (who tops and tails the film) was Prof Tom Stevenson, who is an academic at Edinburgh University and the chair of the Museum of Communication in Burntisland, which shamefully I still haven’t visited despite being determined to do so when this talk was announced. It’s only up the road! It’s closed for the winter, but the website says you can pop round when the volunteers are in.
This time I was smarter than last time, and didn’t open my sandwiches during the trailers, in the knowledge that the lights would go up again for the initial talk! Kept them for the start of the film. Apologies to anyone I rustled at, but if you will have have film starting at 5:45pm some of us are going to bring our tea!
The introduction was a tremendously clear explanation of how the Enigma machine worked. I’ve been to one or two previous talks on Enigma and read a couple of books, but I don’t remember anything this lucid. Excellent!
Then on to the film. I was absolutely sure I’d seen it, but turned out to have no recollection of it whatsoever. I’ve read the novel on which it was based 3 or 4 times and even with that, I couldn’t quite remember how the story goes (I am a keen re-reader, since stories seem to drop out of my head as soon as I finish them).
I enjoyed the film, although I thought it was a bit patchy. The special effects for the Atlantic convoy were a bit on the clunky side and the plot thrust wasn’t always entirely clear. But it rattled along in an engaging manner, and I enjoyed the period style (although with anachronistic oilseed rape in the countryside scenes!). Knowing what the Short Signal Code Book and Weather Short Code Book were (from the pre-film talk) certainly helped in the appreciation of the detail of the story.
I’m keen to go back and read the book yet again, because I couldn’t figure out whether the film was faithful in detail, although it clearly was in top-level storyline.
Unfortunately the film was long enough that only 7 minutes were left for questions afterwards, and we only had a couple. (I should have been trying to think of something intelligent!) I’d really like to hear more from the same speaker sometime.
Next Sci Screen film is War Games on 5th December: a very very long time since I’ve seen that one!