‘Are you paying attention?’
MOVE reviews “The Imitation Game”
Jan. 25, 2015
“Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine,” Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is told. And Turing did the unimaginable -- he created a machine to break a code many believed unbreakable. This important yet somehow unknown man’s life is the story behind “The Imitation Game.”
Turing’s life story is complex and veiled. For 50 years his story went untold and is still not widely-known. More than the story of a British mathematician-turned-code-breaker, “The Imitation Game” is the story of a misunderstood and heartbroken genius carrying the weight of a forbidden secret –– his homosexuality, punishable by law in World War II-era Britain.
The film starts with Turing, along with a few other men, getting hired by the British government to decipher the Germans’ Enigma code, a task thought to be impossible. Turing quickly becomes in charge of the top-secret operation and begins to build a machine that he believes can break the code.
Entwined throughout the film are experiences from Turing’s childhood at boarding school. He was bullied for being quiet and highly intelligent -- different from the other, “normal” students. Despite this, he made a friend named Christopher Morcom. Morcom was a bright boy who introduced Turing, a boy with a knack for crossword puzzles, to the study of cryptography, the study of codes. The boys grew close, but Morcom kept a tragic secret from Turing –– he had tuberculosis. Morcom died only four years after befriending Turing. Morcom was Turing’s first love, and even if Morcom did not experience romantic feelings in return, Turing never forgot his boarding school friend nor truly fell in love with anyone else.
After the war, Turing was outed and charged with “gross indecency.” Given the choice between jail time and chemical castration, Turing chose the latter. Humiliated and alone, Turing took his own life. The war had been over for ten years, 14 million lives had been saved because of Turing, and his machine set the foundation for what is now referred to as the computer.
It would not be dramatic to say this film is one of monumental importance. Turing’s story never ceases to be interesting and significant. This otherwise-serious movie is unexpectedly flecked with witty humor and moments of heartwarming pride. Cumberbatch’s Turing manages to captivate the audience from his opening monologue up until he has been broken down and turns off the light in the room where his machine, lovingly named Christopher, is set up in his home for the last time.
The film is a beautifully-portrayed story of a man history seemed to forget. In his own way, Turing is an underdog, and the audience roots for him throughout all the adversity he faces.
MOVE gives “The Imitation Game” 5 out of 5 stars.