Time to Remember
Alan Turing was a hero. A hero not in a brawny, muscly, save-the-day-with-feats-of-strength kind of way, but with an amazing intellect and single mindedness that cracked an unbreakable code , bringing earlier end to WW2. He was not alone in these efforts- he was part of a group of brilliant individuals who worked tirelessly to crack the Enigma code in the top secret compound in Bletchly Park.. There was no glory, no accolades, no parade for their achievements. No one would know of their efforts for fifty years after the fact. Until then , their efforts would simply ...not exist. One wonders if Turing's story would have ended differently if the truth were revealed earlier. He committed suicide at the age of 42.
For you see, Turing was homosexual in a time where such a thing was punishable by law. Imprisonment and "chemical castration" were two of the punishments doled out for" gross indecency". Two years before his suicide, he was persecuted and condemned for his orientation. This man who was crucial to the end of World War 2 was treated like a common criminal- a sexual offender whose only offence was to be born gay.
The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing in a stellar performance. Cumberbatch seems to have filled the niche in playing brilliant characters (see BBC's Sherlock) and has a knack for bringing out the humanity in these too-smart-for-their-own-good roles. Turing is egotistical and his intellect is off putting but through a series of flashbacks to his schoolboy days, you see the reasons for his lack of people skills.
The movie is bookended by the years after the war is over when a Detective (Rory Kinnear), upon investigating a supposed "break-in" at Turing's flat, senses something amiss with the Professor's story and digs deeper into his background only to find his official records redacted and non-existent. Fearing he is a Russian spy, he continues his efforts until only to find he is not a spy but a homosexual- which was perceived as a crime in Great Britain until 1967.
The majority of the story takes place in the shed at Bletchly Park where the small group of brilliant minds work to decipher the code and aid Turing in perfecting his machine that becomes the earliest model for the computers we have today. The stellar cast includes Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty, Kick-Ass), Matthew Goode (Watchmen)Allan Leech (Downton Abbey), and Keira Knightly (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) who plays the lone female in the group.
The title of the film refers to the Turing test which tests a machines capability to exhibit behavior or intelligence indistinguishable from human , but I also interpret it as an allegory to it's creators struggle to assimilate and fit in as a "normal" heterosexual , hiding his true self and sexual inclinations for fear of the persecution that inevitably brought about his demise at his own hands.
The film moves at brisk pace and my attention never flagged. For a story that could have been a dry affair, director Morton Tyldum brings this tragic bit of history to life, never canonizing its' hero- Turing is imperfect and flawed- but giving this remarkable mind his just due.
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