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.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, 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/>.