Review: The Imitation Game (UK)

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Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his invention, the code-breaking electro-mechanical Bombe Christopher.

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong & Charles Dance

Alan Turing had a brilliant mind. Turing was an British mathematician, a cryptanalyst and a pioneering computer scientist. He was also a war hero who ensured the allies victory against Nazism and helped win the Second World War. However, instead of being celebrated for saving the lives of millions, he was persecuted because of his homosexuality and subjected to chemically-induced castration.

Marten Tyldrum International directing debut, The Imitation Game is a World War II thriller based on Andrew Hodges Biography, “Alan Turing, The Enigma.” The Imitation game is Marten Tyldrum’s International directing debut and pays homage to Turing.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) leads a team of British intellectuals, who attempt to break Nazi Germany’s Enigma Code. The team operate out of Britain’s top secret government code and cypher school at Bletchley park. The Enigma code is said to be virtually impossible for humans to unscramble because the Germans change the settings at midnight, every night. Once the settings change, as does the code. The team also have to be wary of Commander Alexander Dennison (Game of Thrones star Charles Dance) who oversees the operation and threatens to the pull the plug at any minute.

After gaining permission from M16 and somehow securing sanction from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Turing invents a revolutionary machine that provides the only hope to cracking the code. A machine that gave birth to the prototype of today’s computer.

Benedict Cumberbatch gives a standout performance as Alan Turing. Cumberbatch captures Turing tortured soul and the complexity of his character. Cumberbatch emulates every aspect of Turing’s character, his superiority, social ineptness and vulnerability. Through Cumberbatch’s portrayal, the viewer witnesses the trajectory of Turing’s life; his unhappy teenage years at boarding school, his intellectual triumphs and ultimate decline in health.

Besides Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley is the other standout actor in the film. Knightley portrays Joan Clarke, the only female member of Turing’s codebreaking team. Clarke sneakily contributes to the effort without being recognised and develops a strong friendship with Alan Turing. Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley successfully portray the meaningful and loving friendship between Alan Turing and Joan Clarke. However, there is probably too much emphasis on this relationship. According to Hodges biography, Alan Turing’s relationship with Clarke was far less romanticised than it was portrayed in the film.

Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightley) and Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightley) and Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The Imitation Game is an incredibly moving film, which gives life to an important story. However, similarly to most bio-pics, there are some inaccuracies that affected the quality of the films story telling. The film exaggerates Turing’s social difficulties to the point of him having Asperger’s, which wasn’t the case. While Alan Turing was an eccentric character, he didn’t have this condition and wasn’t a complete social outcast, which the film portrays him as. Alan Turing’s interactions with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) is also fictitious, despite serving as a plot point in the film.

Nonetheless, despite these inaccuracies, The Imitation Game is a must see film. The story is incredibly moving and one that needs to be told. The film also features a stellar cast, which showcases standout performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightley.

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