Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for...more
Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal. less
“The Imitation Game is an utterly remarkable biopic boosted by some of the best performances of the year!”
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Graham Moore’s screenplay made it to #1 on the Black List as early as in 2011 and when we finally watch the movie, we understand why, it was so likable. Eventually, The Imitation Game, a war thriller of sorts explores three different timelines unravelling the enigma of a single man. And how it all began with Christopher, the boy he had fallen in love with at school, who saved him, in a way from caving in to the bullies, who introduced him to cryptography, changing his life forever. And how it all ended with Christopher, the machine that helped him help the Allied Forces defeat the Nazis, end the World War II much before it was supposed to end, saving probably around 14 millions of lives.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing isn’t as cocky as Sherlock is, but just as sharp an intellectual mind. Cumberbatch, the way he depicts introvert geniuses, could make a career out of playing incomprehensible characters, whose minds work at another level, far removed from the ordinary, sometimes even exceeding the boundaries of the extraordinary. In this case, the quirks he portrays from stammering to body language full of nervous energy, the enthusiasm that makes him climb into Joan’s room for help in solving the puzzle are all so real. On one timeline, cops are investigating Alan Turing, in 1952, after a burglary in his house, when he raises suspicions thanks to his classified war records. On another timeline a 26 year old Alan Turing is explaining to Commander Denniston(Charles Dance) why he isn’t exactly a prodigy, that Newton and Einstein had achieved a lot more by the time they were his age. All he wanted to do was work on ENIGMA, Germany’s war machine used to encrypt their messages, which if cracked could help Allied Forces win the war. So starts a top secret mission in Bletchley Park, Britain, where the best cryptographers come together to unravel the mysteries of Enigma, which could possibly have 159 million million settings on any given day.
The movie works at several levels, like a maze, cryptography being the bottomline of director Morten Tyldum. When Alan Turing gets an explanation from his school friend about what cryptography is, he, a loner, introvert, with trouble understanding normal human beings, asks if all communication isn’t just cryptography, because people mean one thing but say another. There is depiction of the way women were treated in those days, when Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) qualified for Alan Turing’s competition to find the best minds but faces disbelief from the usher. She rightly points out later to Turing when asked about her charm, ‘I am a woman doing a man’s job and I don’t have the luxury of being an ass’. The movie, in a way, runs on these lines, powerful, insightful, not over-done and yet, blunt enough to drive the point. Stewart Menzies(Mark Strong) who heads MI6 has to face an eventual dilemma when Turing and Joan ask him to not reveal that Enigma has been cracked and instead create a probability and statistical system which will tell the Allied Forces how much to respond to, even though they would have knowledge of every bit of German information. Menzies says ‘creating a web of deceit and conspiracy at the highest level of politics, sounds right up my alley’. In a way, Turing, Joan and his team including the charming Hugh Alexander(Matthew Goode) play gods, deciding which life to be saved and which one to be let gone of.
The Imitation Game, like Alan Turing eventually points out in an interrogation, after he is charged of ‘gross indecency’ (homosexuality being illegal back then in Britain) is a game that decides if you are a machine or human. Like Stewart, points out, Alan turned out to be the man he had hoped he would find. From single-mindedly working on his machine, even convincing Winston Churchill with just one letter, standing up to a lot of opposition and tension to standing by the fact that he was a homosexual, Alan Turing is one of history’s most remarkable characters, tortured genius whose tale is so full of complications, dilemmas and pain, ordinary humans hardly have a sniff of. His character is wrapped in the acting prowess of Cumberbatch and is supported by the fine cast that includes a really charming and competent Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Allen Leech.
The movie is beautifully supported by an amazing soundtrack provided by Alexndre Desplat, soft, sensitive undertones that tug at your heart at the right points, almost playing out a sympathy with Cumberbatch’s pained, manic, eyes. All in all, it is a wonderful thriller that gets spot on, the balance between character development and the process of designing the original mother of all computers. It is a riveting watch, which gets a lot of things right, almost allowing you to overlook the few flaws that would creep into a subject that has so much depth and diversity!