#Film4FilmNite – The Imitation Game


Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance

Year: 2014

Running Time: 114mins

The Imitation Game is an emotional story set around the time of the Second World War detailing a small part of the life of Alan Turing, a quite brilliant mathematician, inventor and, unfortunately for the time, a homosexual.

The main crux of the film surrounds the role that Alan plays in the code-breaking of the notoriously difficult (some said impossible), World War II, German-created Enigma code. Alan is supposed to be working at Bletchley Park alongside some other incredibly clever people; Hugh Alexander, John Cairncross, Peter Hilton, Keith Furman and Charles Richards but, due to his personality flaws and disaffected demenour, he doesn’t get on or let the others contribute to his plan and doesn’t possess the personal skills to ingratitate himself amongst them. A change of personnel, at Turing’s request leads to a couple of new members, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightly). Turing’s plan to build a machine to decrypt the Enigma-coded messages is frowned upon to begin with, but it is slowly accepted as the most likely of the solutions to gain results.

With three main timelines being interspersed with each other we see the code-cracking timeline with flashbacks and flash forwards, between his formative school days, where he is introduced to cryptography, and his future where he has been arrested for gross indecency in one of the more antequated laws that was still in place in Britain at the time.

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For a potentially dull subject matter, breaking codes, it does a fantastic job of making it exciting and pertinent, raising the stakes for each missed opportunity, each failure. The amount  of pressure that these amazing people were under was immense and the fact that they struck out and broke new ground in the solving of this is equally amazing.

The imagery of war that is placed inbetween scenes keeps the viewer under no doubt what this is all about, the weight of the situation, reminding them why this is needed and the penalties of not cracking this code.

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Morten Tyldum has managed to superbly construct a narrative that is engaging and interesting and at the same time personal and emotional. Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing is quite superb, and he rightly received recognition for this role as did Graham Moore in adapting the screenplay from Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Engima.

The Imitation Game is a powerful historical film, detailing some of the amazing things that people did in the past to help with the war effort, none more so than this great of mathematicians and puzzle-solvers. An inspired, inspirational and emotional film that highlights what an amazing person Alan Turing was and how he was put to the sword after doing so much.

Rating:     ½

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