In the News Lately: The Imitation Game

By Monday, March 09, 2015 , ,

Here’s your next movie to see in the category of “new” or “recently in theaters.” The Imitation Game was released to theaters pretty gradually throughout last November and December, but it’s recently garnered a lot of attention with its eight Oscar nominations and a win for Best Adapted Screenplay. If you like historical adaptations or thrillers, it might be for you.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have to be particularly interested in a movie to pay money to see it in theaters. This was one which earned that spot for me. As soon as I heard the premise and who the lead actors were, my interest heightened. It tells the story of Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician who was at the center of breaking the Nazis’ secret code called Enigma during World War II, and who was one of the grandfathers of the modern computer. As we find out through the course of the film, Turing was also a homosexual and eventually arrested for it much later after the war.

The premise is a very interesting concept for a movie, and it did a good job of making things understandable for people who know nothing about complicated math (exhibit A: yours truly). However, I did consider how fun it would be to watch it with my engineering friends and see them nerd out over the machines and puzzles that come into the story. But I digress. Obviously, Alan Turing and his team were indeed successful at cracking Enigma, and it's fascinating to watch how their strategies for it changed as time progressed, as well as how their part in the war played out once Enigma was broken. The relationships among the team are also fun to watch. Though Turing is the master mind of the group, the others thoroughly dislike him at first. In his case, the brilliance cancels out social skills, and he regularly insults everyone else for not being as smart. Joan Clarke, the only woman on the team and Turing’s fiancĂ©e for a time, helps him balance out a bit. She’s a steadier character and has the advantage of brains plus people skills, so their interactions in the movie are pretty entertaining. While it’s important to keep in mind that not all of the portrayals are entirely historically accurate, it’s still a story well-told and enjoyable to watch.

The Imitation Game also asks hard ethical questions in light of the historical facts presented. For example, once Enigma is broken and the team begins to read into the Germans’ communication, at one point, they discover they could save a boat full of civilians from a surprise attack. But then they realize that if they do, the Germans will know Enigma has been compromised. So the film asks: what is the right thing to do? It’s a difficult scene to watch, but it does force you to think about hard questions like that. Alan Turing’s later arrest for his homosexuality also presents important issues with which to wrestle. The movie does a good job of handling the matter delicately. Mercifully, I did not feel that it came across as a plea for political sympathy or correctness, but simply offered the facts and provokes thoughtful discussion.

All that to say, I saw it twice in theaters, which is really saying something for me. Between the interesting historical premise and interpretations of these characters, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It also made me think, which I appreciated. Additionally, Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke both turned in all-star performances that help you see not just the historical facts, but what it was like for these people emotionally and relationally as they worked on this task that had to be exhausting. I felt a bit tired just from watching a story about it! And from trying to wrap my head around how people can be so brilliant, but that’s beside the point. It was nice to see two such reputable actors make a dynamic lead duo. I also enjoyed Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander and Allen Leech as John Cairncross (for my fellow Downton Abbey fans, he’s famed for playing Tom Branson ;)). Everyone did a great job and the whole film was extremely well-done, so I was glad to see that it cracked an Oscar in the end…hahaha, aren’t I so pun-ny? :P

From left to right: Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Matthew Beard as Peter Hilton, Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander, and Allen Leech as John Cairncross
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*I do not own the rights to the photo in this post. Photo used was retrieved from credited Internet source*

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  1. I can't wait to see this movie- it looks amazing! Alan Turing was such an incredible man.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Ashley! I hope you get to see it soon! It really was so good and told Turing's story in a fascinating way. Enjoy it! :)