The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the man who cracked the code of the Nazi enigma machine during World War II, and in the process invented computers.
*NOTE* I am not an historian, This review will cover the film, not the real-life of the man.
The Imitation Game is a magnificent film, covering the life of Alan Turing, mainly during his service during World War II when he, and a small team of scientists, attempted to crack the code of the German enigma machine. Directed by Morten Tyldum in his first English language feature, the film is a riveting ride about a man who had a tremendous impact on World War II, but no one ever knew he was involved. The film has been nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress for Keira Knightly.
After watching the cinematic abomination that was known as Annabelle, I needed a palate cleanse. What is the best way to cleanse your palate? Go see a critically acclaimed, Oscar nominee, of course! Does this always work? Hells no. (I’m looking at you, The English Patient.) Did it work in this case? Darn tootin’! The Imitation Game is one of the best films I have seen in quite a long time, and easily one of the best films of the year. It is a riveting film that bounces between Turing’s childhood and the young boys discovery of his homosexuality, his service during World War II creating the machine that cracked the Nazi enigma machine, and his life after with his subsequent prosecution for homosexuality and court ordered chemical castration. Despite all of this, it is not a difficult film to watch and Tyldum does a fantastic job directing with style and subtlety.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the standout in a strong cast which includes the already mentioned Keira Knightly, along with Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Matthew Goode (Watchmen), and Mark Strong (John Carter). This is a small sampling of standout British talent and the film benefits greatly from their unique talents. I was actually surprised by Knightly, whom I have never been terribly impressed with.
Despite the seemingly dry story, this is a riveting film that deserves to be seen. While this film hasn’t been generating the buzz required to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it is still magnificent and I find it hard to believe there is a better film in the Best Picture category. Do yourself a favor and see this.
**** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- I was the youngest person in the theater when seeing this film. Including my age of 38, the median age was still probably 60. Yes, it was filled with old folk. Is that a fun fact? Probably not. I just felt outnumbered by a geriatric crowd. The smells of mothballs and butter mints still assail my nostrils . . .
- From IMDB: Alex Lawther who plays the young Turing and Benedict Cumberbatch have each worn dentures in the film which were exact copies of Alan Turing’s own 60-year old set of false teeth.
- From IMDB: Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Turing are actually related in real-life. According to the family history site Ancestry, the two are 17th cousins with family relations dating back to the 14th century. Both are said to be related to John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset, through Cumberbatch and Turing’s respective paternal lines.
- Alan Turing, in real life, was a marathon runner. It is never mentioned in the film, but he is shown running quite a few times.
- From IMDB: Mark Strong’s character, Stewart Menzies, is the basis for James Bond’s boss “M” (for Menzies). Ian Fleming’s WWII espionage work at the very least made him aware of the man who ran MI 6.
- From IMDB: Convicted in 1952 for homosexuality (still criminalized at the time), Turing opted to receive chemical castration in lieu of prison. In 1954, sixteen days before his 42nd birthday, Turing died of cyanide poisoning and his death was later officially ruled as suicide. It was not until 2009, after a massive internet campaign, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made on official apology to the Turing family and the LGBT community for the British government’s treatment of Turing. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon.