The Imitation Game (2014): Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mathew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong


Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies: "This war, we're not winning it. If you speak a word of what I'm about to show you, you will be executed for high treason."

 _______________________________


 
Alan Turing: "I'm just a mathematician."
Joan Clarke: "Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."
 

 

 
 
The Imitation Game is loosely based on the true story of Alan Turing, (Alan Turing: The Enigma a biography by Andrew Hodges) a brilliant British mathematician and cryptanalyst  assigned to a top secret team to break the unbreakable Nazi Enigma code, a complicated and sophisticated cipher used by the German army, which would help win WWII.  Turing is well known to computer scientists than to most moviegoers.   Turing's, Benedict Cumberbatch, primary goal and vision is to build the first computer that would crack the code instantly.  With a team intact, the vision comes together and hastens the Allies victory.   After the war, Turing was arrested for the crime of being a homosexual and given the choice of prison time or chemical castration. 
 
The film examines three different periods in Turing's life.  The opening scenes take place in 1951 after being arrested.  The story flashbacks to a difficult childhood where love of math, cryptology and a true friend blooms to the adult work at the British Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain's code breaking center and then back to present day.  The bulk of the movie is played out at Bletchley Park ending with the finale in the present.
 

Joan Clarke: "You're going to need all the help you can get and they are not going to help you if they do not like you."

 

 
 
 
Cumberbatch is superb in the film as the intelligent and antisocial odd duck Turing, a nice person though lacking socially savvy skills when  relating to others. The dialogue between the actors is fascinating and believable making Turing a difficult yet endearing character.   Images and thoughts of films such as Rain Man (1988), A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Dead Poets Society (1989) come to mind during the movie.  Commander Denniston, Charles Dance (Tywin Lancaster in Game of Thrones, HBO), powerfully and dashingly rules the bunch of chess-playing mathematicians and becomes Turing's main supporter.  Joan Clarke, Keira Knightley, wins a crossword puzzle contest designed by Turing to bring in a fresh crop of math wizards to the team.  Clarke upon winning the classified position befriends Turing. Turing would rather work alone only to realize that without the team everything would fall apart.  Clarke, equally intelligent, teaches Turing how to win friends, to be likeable and in turn Turing develops a group of coworkers that follow and believes in his vision.  Additionally, the underlying theme of a Turing's sexual preference is also woven throughout the film.   Turing proposes to Clarke for convenience though the film is clear about the true feelings of respect, friendship and love between the two.







 
 
It would be easy to write about every scene in the movie, yet giving it all away would be a disservice to the moviegoer.  The cast is Britishly fantastic, script well written and engaging with the impressive overview of intelligence by the core team and hundreds of others used during the war to break the Nazi Enigma code are simply unforgettable.  The audience laughs at times, is completely intrigued and roots for Turing success.  Of course, the scene imagery of the war from the planes, bombings, to the people huddled in bomb shelters captures the audience from start to finish.  People were dying brutally by the Nazis while the team at Bletchley Park were desperately trying to break the Enigma code.  The movie is spellbinding and riveting in this thriller about ending the Nazi regime using the all mighty mind and a computer to outplay the enemy.  Of course, as a Hollywood film some disagree with how the film plays out since the truth of Turing's life is bit stretched and twisted in this yarn.  
 
The finale of the film is a mixed because the secondary theme about Turing's sexuality is at the culmination rather than his incredible accomplishments. For instance, Winston Churchill, Britain's Prime Minister, believed Turing was the single biggest contribution to ending the WWII. Yet, these achievements and beyond are overshadowed with the concerns of Turing sexuality. The tears will flow and sadness of the cruelly archaic British anti-sodomy laws in the 50's will be stamped heavily on the big screen.   However, for this reviewer it was learning about an amazing and incredible man with a strong vision and a powerful mind who grasped the art of engaging others, became a leader while developing the footprints of the modern day computer and helped end WWII. The movie is spellbinding, enlightening and a must see. Well played I must say - Cumberbatch and Knightley!  Well played!  

Finally, the question that keeps the audience pondering after the credits roll:  Can computers think like humans?
 


 
 

Of course machines can’t think ‘as human beings do’. A machine is different from a human being. Hence, it would think differently. The interesting question is, just because something thinks differently from you, does that mean it’s not thinking? We allow that humans have such divergences from one another. You like strawberries. I hate ice-skating. You cry at sad films. I’m allergic to pollen. What does it mean to have different tastes, different preferences, other than to say that our brains work differently? That we think differently from one another? And if we can say that about each another, why can’t we say the same for brains made of copper and steel?

—  Alan Turing, The Imitation Game

 




 

  "Embrace the differences in each other... Tolerance, acceptance and understanding one another is a gift which embodies grace for the human condition."   

- Forever Chic Style - Kim Hardwick

 
 
 
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