Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

The Imitation Game

We went to see “The Imitation Game,” the new biopic about mathematician, codebreaker, and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing. Benedict Cumberbach is very good as Turing, creating an Asberger’s-esque character that is distinct from, yet has some similarities with the “high-functioning sociopath” Sherlock Holmes.

The movie deals most with the wartime years at Bletchley Park, with flashbacks to Turing’s unhappy childhood, and is framed by the events of the homosexuality scandal that brought about Turing’s untimely death.

Turing’s tragedy, of course, is that, having done such important work for the war effort, he was treated so shabbily by the police and courts. However, there is no way the court system could have taken his war work into account, since it was covered by the Official Secrets Act at the time. So the movie’s conceit, of Turing having told his story to the curious policeman (Rory Kinnear), even as an extended hypothetical, is a fantasy.

The movie was accurate in other ways, including the ultimate Enigma breakthrough being based upon an observation by one of the female code clerks (the type of women featured in “The Bletchley Circle” TV program).

The film looks very real, with the reconstruction of “Christopher”, the Enigma-breaking machine, most impressive. There is a good deal of real drama, not only in the ups and downs of the cracking struggle, but also in the realization of the power of life and death that has fallen into their hands when “Christopher” begins to work.

Very nice supporting performances by Kiera Knightley as mathematician Joan Clarke, veteran actors Charles Dance and Mark Strong, and “Downton Abbey” cast member Alan Leech, among others. Recommended.

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Tags: history, movies
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