The Imitation Game
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During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, The Imitation Game a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives.
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Now, almost 15 years later, we get a movie, "The Imitation Game", with a bit more of the real story. It is based on the book, published in the 1990's, "Alan Turning" by British mathematician, Andrew Hodges. (I also read and reviewed the book.) The "hero" this time is the real Alan Turing and he is depicted in "The Imitation Game" as a nerdy Cambridge math genius who is brought in to Bletchley to break the code. But Alan Turing, in addition to being a math genius, is also gay. No getting both the code AND the lady in this movie. At the time, being a homosexual was a crime in the UK.
I saw the movie this afternoon, on its first day of release, in a theater in "fly-over" country. Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles all opened the film a few weeks ago but we out in the boonies had to wait til today. The movie was well worth the wait. I had wondered how the director and the authors of the screen play were going to handle Turing's homosexuality. Well, it was handled brilliantly. The film, which is only about two hours long, captured both Turing's times and life in an understated manner. The movie opens with his post-war investigation and arrest and goes back and forth to his work in WW2 and his pre-war youth in a British boarding school, where he is treated cruelly by other students. His only friend - and defender - was a boy named Christopher, who died at a young age. Alan names his code-breaking machine "Christopher" in his friend's honor.
The movie ends, as does Alan Turing's life, with his suicide after being forced to take hormonal treatment to be rid of homosexual urges. But most of the movie is devoted to Alan Turing and his fellow code breakers at Bletchely. The movie recounts how important breaking the Enigma code was and how difficult it was to do. The machine that Alan Turing developed was the forerunner of the computer I'm using to write this review.
Benedict Cumberbatch - is there a movie he HASN'T been in lately - as Alan Turing is brilliant. Kiera Knightly as Joan Clarke, a fellow-code breaker, is also good. (In both real life and the movie, the two were engaged to be married but the engagement was broken.) The supporting cast also does their acting duties and the production values are excellent...HOWEVER...
Rob Slaven, writing an excellent 4 star review of the movie on this site, raises some interesting points of movies getting historical facts correct vs the "movie truth". He refers to a Slate Magazine examination of the movie which points out the differences between the movie version and real events. This is a problem with watching an "historical movie". What's true and what's "fudged" or made more "filmable"? I'll add: as film goers what should we take with literary license? Some of the characters in "The Imitation Game" were seen through the lens of "literary license". Relationships between characters were not always as they were depicted on screen.
So, I'm left in a quandary, as both a movie goer and a reviewer. I really enjoyed "The Imitation Game". Should the film have been labeled, "Based on history" as some films are? And would I have been happier watching a documentary about the life of Alan Turing, where all the facts presented must be correct? I simply don't know. But I sure did enjoy this movie.
After enjoying this movie last night, I’m disappointed to see hateful comments about it in a number of Amazon reviews. I wouldn’t turn away moviegoers who would otherwise never watch a film about a brilliant mathematician. I recommend this video for anyone who missed the movie in the theater. I also expect plenty of "no" helpful votes from the type of person who told Turing how he should think.
Alan Turing's remarkable life and the key role that he played in ending WWII is simply amazing. Turing was a genius pioneer of early computing technology and his efforts saved millions of lives by cracking the 'impenetrable' German codes. Had he not become involved in the breaking of the codes, the war would have had a much different ending. The world was changed forever as a result of his efforts and success at breaking the German codes.
All in all this was a fantastic film. I would recommend reading books on the life of Alan Turing if you want a more in depth experience about his life and incredible accomplishment.
This is a Hollywood version of a story of events that may or may not have happened as depicted but over all very good and quite watchable. I liked the versions of the characters and how they interacted, the best being how the Keri Knightly character was depicted. A great example of how even back then smart people were dumb enough to think that other smart humans are less for simply being female. They did take the Sheldon approach to his personality, book smart but people dumb though without all the quirks.
The pace of the movie was good enough to keep your attention and by the end you get the feeling that if everyone could put sexual orientation and gender beyond what makes a person good/bad/valuable the world might be a better place.