My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
So lately I’ve been obsessing over movie scores and soundtracks, and through a spotify playlist I came across The Imitation Game’s track “A Different Equation,” which of course made me curious about the movie. I had never heard of it.
I saw that it was on Netflix, starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and had something to do with WWII (I didn’t read the description). Normally movies that take place during any war is a definitive no for me, but for some reason Netflix really thought I would like it, giving it a close to perfect five-star rating. Without any further ado, I pressed play and jumped right into it.
The movie begins in 1951, in Manchester, England with a burglary having just taken place. The victim of said burglary–Professor Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch)–refuses police aid by way of insulting them. Obviously baffled and intrigued as to why the mysterious professor won’t accept help, Detective Nock starts an investigation into Turing.
After learning that Turing had worked for the British during WWII, Nock forges some paperwork to get his hands on Turing’s classified military file only to be even more perplexed when he discovers it is empty. This only confirms Nock’s suspicions and strengthens his interest in Turing’s past. What had the math professor worked on that was so important his records had to be erased?
Detective Nock gets his opportunity to ask Alan himself after he is arrested, charged with “public indecency.”
In the interrogation room, we flashback to 1939 as Alan recounts his past at Bletchley Park. There, he worked with a group to decode German transmissions. If you know your history, you’ll know that the Germans developed machines–called Enigma machines–that encrypted their messages, so as to prevent their enemies from learning key information about their plans. The British were able to get their hands on one of these machines, so now all they had to do was figure out how to use it; every day the Germans would alter Enigma’s settings and the British would have to figure out what the new settings were. With over 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 different settings possible, you can see how this might be an issue. Very time consuming, theoretically impossible.
Now it’s important to mention that Alan is the stereotypical genius–good with numbers and puzzles, not so good with people. He clashes with the rest of the group as, instead of helping them, he focuses on creating a universal machine that could drastically reduce the amount of time it took for them to solve the new Enigma settings each day.
A machine that, by the way, led to the creation of computers.
Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job in his role as Alan Turing. I had only ever seen his acting in Atonement, and even then he plays a smaller role of a vile character, so that didn’t count in my mind. I felt his urge to finish his machine, I felt his pain at not being able to easily relate to others. Long story short, he did a phenomenal job.
An important part of the film–and Alan’s life–that they thankfully do not get cover up is that Alan is gay. We see through his eyes the ramifications of being gay in a time where that was simply viewed as unacceptable and outright illegal. We see the outrageous ways society “dealt with it.” Living in a time in which we have more progressive ideals and countries beginning to legalize and accept gay marriage, I think it’s important to see how far we’ve come, even though there will always be people who try to destroy what we’ve accomplished.
As for the film’s accuracy, I cannot be sure. But because of this movie, I now am sure to find out. Alan Turing: the Enigma by Andrew Hodges–the biography in which the movie was based on–seems a good place to start.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Imitation Game. I think it’s important for us to acknowledge heroes like Alan Turing who helped us win a war–no, the War–and laid the groundwork necessary for me to right now be using this computer writing this review. It feels wrong that I never knew about any of this, that I never heard his name in school–granted, it was kept a secret for decades.