The Imitation Game – Movie Review
The Imitation Game – PG-13
Release Date: Thu 25 Dec 2014
The Imitation Game recounts the story of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who broke the “unbreakable” Nazi Enigma cryptography system. His “Turing machines” became the basis for modern computer science and Turing is somewhat well known as a father of modern computing. While the story of breaking the Enigma has been brought to the screen before (2001’s Enigma), past stories have shied away from looking closely into the life of Turing himself.
Benedict Cumberbatch has played antisocial geniuses in both Sherlock and The Fifth Estate, but his Turing feels more human and vulnerable. The movie explores several eras of his life at once, and a casual audience member would be forgiven for not quite discerning the chronology of events. We see Turing as a boarding school student, brilliant but socially inept genius at Bletchley Park working on Enigma, a man being pursued by a police investigation and one treated abominably by the government he helped save.
There was an audible sound of shock in the audience when Turing’s fate is revealed at the end of the movie, and I commend it for dramatizing the story for the sake of streamlining versus making it more palatable. As an example, the movie makes it appear that Turing decided to keep secret how much Nazi intelligence he was decrypting in order to protect the secret that he could decrypt it. While the allies did keep the extent of their knowledge of these secrets hidden so as not to give away that advantage, it was certainly a larger group of intelligence and government people making those decisions. It is well documented that the British government allowed some of their cities to be bombed rather than let the enemy know that they were on to them.
Turing’s story is such an interesting one that it is strange that it has taken quite so long for a mainstream movie to really try to tell his story. I was happy with The Imitation Game’s portrayal of the events and characters in this real life story.
Jeremiah, John A. and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car: