Film Review: The Imitation Game

 

An important story and one of the must see films of the year.

An important story and one of the must see films of the year.

Among the handful of great minds that helped shape the science of the 20th century is the name Allan Turing. Mathematical genius, philosopher and speculative thinker, Turing is the godfather of modern computer science. His work gave rise to the first digital computer and his ongoing legacy has helped to shape and define the technological gadgetry that is so much a part of early 21st century life.

Turing was responsible for cracking the Enigma code system that allowed Nazi Germany to conceal its communications and wreak havoc on the Allies in the early stages of the Second World War. Considered unbreakable, Enigma was the task Turing was employed to tackle at the British governments top-secret Bletchley Park instillation.

A new movie exploring the work of Turing, The Imitation Game, paints a picture of a complex and driven personality who dared to imagine what others could not. It traces Turing’s early life and the difficulties he faced as a teenager possessing precocious intellect and talent, examines his burgeoning homosexuality and celebrates his extraordinary contribution to the fight against Nazism. The movie also delves deeply into the shameful events the bought an early close to Turing’s life.

Soon after the war, Turing was convicted of procuring sexual favours from a male prostitute and offered two choices: a prison term or chemical castration. Turing chose the latter. Sometime later he committed suicide.

By in large a thrilling and deeply affecting film whose only real fault is a clumsily scripted role for Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke, the only female member of Turing’s team, who mentored Turing through the years at Bletchley Park, assisting him with the complex math involved in developing the first digital computer and helping him with his interpersonal skills, an area in which he was somewhat lacking.

Benedict Cumberpatch’s portrayal of Turing is triumphant and marks him out as one of the great contemporary screen actors.

The film ends with a brief summation that recognises the plight of the 49,000 men convicted of illegal homosexual activity through that period of British history and acknowledges the recent posthumous exoneration and the apology offered by the British Government and Crown for the sins inflicted upon this great man.

While I acknowledge what other reviewers have noted, that the story takes some liberties with actual events, the basics are all there and in the end that is all that matters.

An important story and one of the must see films of the year.

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