It’s estimated that the brilliant and enigmatic British mathematician Alan Turing helped hasten the conclusion of World War II by two years, which resulted in 14 million lives saved. He, along with a team of linguists and crossword geniuses, broke the previously unbreakable German Enigma Machine, which turned the tide of the war in Europe.
For his effort, the British government in 1952 prosecuted him for “gross indecency,” and forced Turing to chemically castrate himself. Two years later, he took his life with a cyanide capsule. His crime? He was a homosexual, illegal in the United Kingdom until 1967. Homosexuality is still a crime in many parts of the world, as evident by ISIS tossing gay men off buildings and Russia refusing to let homosexual men drive vehicles.
Turing is also the father of computer science – kind of a big deal. And almost just as unbelievably, Hollywood finally got a biopic right.
“The Imitation Game” is a magnificently directed Morten Tyldum film featuring Benedict Cumberbatch’s finest performance to date, as Turing. The film is an instant classic that leaves you on the edge of your seat throughout. Cumberbatch made thinking suspenseful.
Turing, the ultimate nerd hero, through his intellect, effectively brought Hitler’s war machine to its knees by providing the Allies knowledge of German plans and operations. To quote a particularly memorable line from the movie, “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine.”
The film, adapted from Andrew Hodges’ biography “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” begins in 1951 as a detective tries to solve the mystery of a break-in at Turing’s home. The film weaves the revealing of Turing’s secret as a gay man with the little known tale of Turing’s time at Bletchley Park in the U.K. during the war. As the Luftwaffe campaigns bomb London to ruin and Brits hide in subway tunnels for protection, Turing with the help of the secret British intelligence group MI6 – famously portrayed in every James Bond film – and a code and cypher team attempt to crack the Nazis’ ultimate communication device.
Seamlessly, the film completes the portrait and complexity of a genius. “Do you know why people like violence?” Turing asks. “It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying, but remove the satisfaction, and the act becomes – hollow.” His wisdom was gleamed from the hands of abusive classmates as a child. Unsurprisingly, he was always an odd duck. It’s not often Hollywood does an actual service to society; however, though most likely unknowingly, the film illuminates the masses to the dishonored legacy of one of the 20th century’s greatest minds and the most unlikely of war heroes. Queen Elizabeth pardoned Turing for his “crime” in 2013, 61 years later.
“The Imitation Game” is easily my favorite film of the year. Yes, even more so than “American Sniper.” Simmer, I enjoyed the Clint Eastwood directed film as well, just slightly less.
4.5 out of 5 stars
The film is rated PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.