Male and Female
What if a machine could beat another machine? Do machines think? What does it even mean to think?
In our time of constantly advancing technology that has gone from the desks to our pockets, it is time to take a look at the man who started it all with his revolutionary enigma machine, as made in a time when homosexuality was a crime.
The Imitation Game for the greater portion follows the given Hollywood formula for what makes a safely-played Oscar-bait biopic, but is still otherwise as easy to follow as it is inspiring in its account of an underestimated individual who did something nobody could imagine. With a bit creativity and immense usage of logic, Alan Turing influenced the digital world as well as shorted World War II by approximately two years.
Relatively new director Morten Tyldum treats this whole film like an imitation game in and of itself: mixing the continual rage of war with the running cogs in Turing’s brain, with quick doses of humor peppered amongst the intelligent dialogue. The overall struggle in Britain over the second World War is surveyed by three different time periods: one of Alan Turing’s educational years at Sherburne School, one of Turing’s 1941 mission to build a code-breaker with his team of three men and one woman, and one in 1951, when Turing is interrogated by men who wonder if he, a homosexual, is a Soviet Spy.
The best choice that Tyldum made in directing this project was the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange, Sherlock) as the vulnerable mathematician Alan Turing. The British actor absolutely makes this film worthwhile with his heavy stutter and passionate yet subtle expression of disassociation. He is that rare recreation of a historical figure that easily wins over the audience with his obsessive mechanical vigor apparent from the contents on his desk. I honestly cannot get enough of how much of himself he pours into applying his knowledge of mathematics into something that will save lives. His character becomes all the easier to connect with when we see glances at his time as a child, where he found his first homosexual love with a boy named Christopher, who defended him from the cruel treatment of other students.
Outside of Turing’s own little world within his mechanical mind, the creation of warzones destroying the fabric of humanity adds to the impact. The feature is edited by Academy Award winner William Goldenberg (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty) who intersperses the feature with appropriate news reel footage of the war, and recreations of Germany’s attacks on Britain, leading to children shipped out of the country on trains and innocent life after innocent life being lost with each passing second.
It would have been nice to see more of what was going on with the Germans as the war was going on, as to see both sides of the conflict, but the burden put on Turing’s shoulders to encrypt their secret codes indeed feels heavy. But the one asset that best contributes to his ambition to help win the war is no other than Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice), one of the only women working for the government at the time. If it wasn’t for her character to provide the moral structure of the story, then The Imitation Game would have fallen back into a clichéd snooze fest of a biopic without a hint of inspiration.
If anybody were to take a simple glance at this story, they would think that this was precisely what happened over seventy years ago. But if one were to do some research on the story of Alan Turing, then the truth would come out: not much of this story is true after all. Here is one of the numerous articles I found about this issue. I understand that creative liberties have to take place when adapting a story onto the screen, but the best stories are the stories that happen in real life to real people, and I say they are not worth altering to fit our own imaginations.
The Imitation Game is I think one of the most important stories to have come out of Hollywood in the last decade, one that tells an inspiring story that continues to influence us today. You may even be surprised to know that the government kept the Turing Machine used to encrypt German codes a secret for decades: it wasn’t until just a few years ago. Therefore, I recommend this movie to anybody who can get their hands on a computer or a Blu-Ray case, as true stories like this only come around publicly once in a blue moon.
We are all familiar with the societal fight to shine a stronger, more inspirational light on the LGBTQ community, as The Imitation Game reflects, but this movie also depicts a more subliminal, and more important concept about the historical figure Alan Turing, autism’s influence on history.
Although it’s never said in the movie, as autism was a newly coined disorder at the time, Alan Turing displays many symptoms of autism and Asperger’s syndrome. He rarely associates with others, he gets obsessive over his interests, he can’t understand a joke, he trembles in his speech, and he freaks out when the peas on his plate are touching the carrots. These are all common traits of ASD, and in my belief were intentionally placed by the director and screenwriter to suggest how Alan Turing was not only gay, but autistic as well.
It’s not every day you hear of somebody on the autism spectrum following an ambition to change the course of history under the secrecy of the government, but these types of stories are happening all around us, and where we never knew to look.
Take Albert Einstein for instance. He has never had an official diagnosis, but he still displayed many traits of Asperger’s including common disassociation and self-repetition of sentences in conversation. He may have looked at first like a helpless man who would be long forgotten after his death, but his legacy proved otherwise: he used his brilliant mind to perform groundbreaking formulas that forever changed how future scientists and mathematicians treated what they were once familiar with.
Another great example would be Sir Isaac Newton. You know that classic illustration of him sitting under the apple tree until one fruit lands on his head? That comes from his highly introverted nature that disliked sharing any ideas with people. He may have been overlooked by the masses of his culture, but he ended up changing the world of physics with his theories on gravity.
The stories don’t even stop there. Today, now with autism known by the masses, we hear about all sorts of celebrities who either are confirmed to have or suspected to land on the spectrum. Such minds include Dan Aykroyd, Susan Boyle, Tim Burton, and Stanley Kubrick. Imagine how their childhoods must have been whether with autism or simply just not fond of people, and imagine how stupid the kids who bullied them must feel today.
This means that despite how your autistic child may be treated by his or her peers, the brilliant mind accompanying autism is an unthinkable benefit that goes a long, long ways.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Will He Ever Amount to Anything?
With all these influential historical figures whose autism helped shape the thinking of mankind, I’m shocked how the general masses still see the disorder as the lowliest of the low, expected to do nothing but live with mom and dad forever while doing brief, quick jobs to make a couple of bucks.
Rather, we should be celebrating people with autism whose minds have what so few people have. With their unique look at the world and vigorous attention to their focus area…
Six-Word Lessons for Autism Friendly Workplaces, Lesson #69: They Work When Nobody is Watching.
…everybody on the spectrum deserves a happy, influential life that leaves a worthwhile legacy.
- No child with a developmental disorder gets left behind. Encourage your autistic child to continue pressing on toward his or her personal obsessions, even if unneeded bullying or discouragement gets in the way.
- To all teachers and social workers: introduce your autistic kids/clients to some of the influential minds suspected to have autism that I listed above. Be sure to emphasize the fact that their passions for utilizing their unique minds led to them leaving an important legacy.
- Your autism is nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you do not have autism, there is nothing flawed about who you are. Use what makes you different from everybody else, and use it to its fullest. Who knows? You could save a life because of what you do.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Alan Turing Biography. Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, Web. <http://www.biography.com/people/alan-turing-9512017#cryptanalysis-and-early-computers>.
The Imitation Game Picture 1. Digital image. Ace Show Biz. Web. <http://www.aceshowbiz.com/still/00007549/the-imitation-game01.html>.
The Imitation Game. The Weinstein Company. Web. <http://theimitationgamemovie.com/>.
Muir, Hazel. Einstein and Newton showed signs of autism. New Scientist. Relx Group, 20 Apr 2003. Web. <https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3676-einstein-and-newton-showed-signs-of-autism/>.
Tunzelmann, Alex Von. The Imitation Game: Inventing a New Slander to Insult Alan Turing. The Guardian. Media Limited, 20 Nov. 2014. Web. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Ffilm%2F2014%2Fnov%2F20%2Fthe-imitation-game-invents-new-slander-to-insult-alan-turing-reel-history>.
Whyte, Marama. Nine facts ‘The Imitation Game’ got wrong about Alan Turing. Hypable, 5 Jan 2015. Web. <http://www.hypable.com/the-imitation-game-historical-accuracy/>.
Mahfood, Julie. 10 Celebrities With Autism. The Richest. Publisher, 5 Jul 2014. Web. <http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/most-influential/10-celebrities-with-autism/>.