THE IMI­TA­TION GAME

IN 1952 IT WAS IL­LE­GAL TO BE GAY, WRITES TIM BAROS. AND SO ALAN TUR­ING WAS CHARGED WITH THE CRIME OF GROSS IN­DE­CENCY WHICH EVEN­TU­ALLY LED TO HIS SUI­CIDE. ALAN TUR­ING’S STORY IS TOLD IN THE IMI­TA­TION GAME

Pride Life Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the new biopic of Alan Turn­ing’s life

Alan Tur­ing is the man cred­ited with in­vent­ing the Enigma ma­chine dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. It trans­lated Ger­man codes into English which helped the Al­lies de­feat the Nazis in sev­eral cru­cial bat­tles by re­veal­ing the Ger­man army’s po­si­tions and plans. Tur­ing’s con­tri­bu­tion is said to have saved many lives and shaved at least two years off WWII.

In The Imi­ta­tion Game, Tur­ing’s life as a code breaker, as well as his life as a young boy, young man, and his later years when he was ar­rested for be­ing gay is all cap­tured. And Benedict Cumberbatch as Tur­ing is a rev­e­la­tion.

The film be­gins in 1951 when Tur­ing’s Manch­ester flat has been bur­gled by a friend of a young man with whom Tur­ing was hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship. Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion Tur­ing ad­mits to the re­la­tion­ship with the young man, and they both are charged with gross in­de­cency.

The Imi­ta­tion Game flips back and forth be­tween Tur­ing’s life as a young boy in board­ing school, his days as part of the team hired by MI6 to crack the Ger­man Enigma Codes, and the time of his ar­rest. Sliced in be­tween this is footage of WWII – bomb­ings, sea bat­tles, air raid shel­ters and bombed-out Lon­don, all giv­ing the film a true feel­ing of be­ing there at that time in those places.

Alan Tur­ing was a prodigy, but, ac­cord­ing to the movie, he was also an out­cast. He was taunted and teased while he was in board­ing school, in­clud­ing at one point hav­ing food thrown all over him. His class­mates reg­u­larly beat him up, and one time they shoved him under the floor boards in school, trap­ping him be­neath a piece of fur­ni­ture. We are also told that Tur­ing had a close friend­ship with a fel­low class­mate whose name was Christo­pher. They were in­sep­a­ra­ble, and the film leads us to be­lieve that love was blos­som­ing be­tween the two. Whether this is fac­tual or not is the ques­tion.

In his 20s, Tur­ing is por­trayed as a loner. He en­joys run­ning in the coun­try­side, and when he’s hired by MI6 at the age of 27 to work at The Bletch­ley Radio Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany, it’s a time when he ex­cels and blos­soms. Yet when he’s as­signed to work with a group of men, he is un­com­fort­able and doesn’t quite fit in. These men in­clude ladies’ man Hugh (Matthew Goode) and Scot­tish John (Allen Leech). One woman does join their ranks, Joan (played by Keira Knight­ley), and we’re led to be­lieve that Tur­ing fell in love with her and even asked her to marry him. Joan was not a real per­son in Tur­ing’s life but is per­haps added to the film to bring in a woman’s per­spec­tive and a ro­mance to draw more fe­male view­ers into what is mostly an all-male film. At first Tur­ing’s male co-work­ers don’t like him - they find him dif­fer­ent, so Joan sug­gests Tur­ing do some­thing for them, so he brings them ap­ples, and then they all bond. Was life so sim­ple back then?

Tur­ing cre­ates his ma­chine, at great ex­pense and much to the dis­may of his com­mand­ing of­fi­cer Ste­wart Menzies (Mark Strong). Dis­arm­ingly, Tur­ing names his Enigma ma­chine Christo­pher, in hon­our of his school­boy crush, who Tur­ing is told has sim­ply dis­ap­peared from school. So his­tory shows that Tur­ing and his team were in­stru­men­tal in help­ing to end WWII. But un­for­tu­nately later in Tur­ing’s life

“Benedict Cumberbatch is su­perb... It’s a per­for­mance wor­thy of an Os­car”

it would all come to naught af­ter he was con­victed for hav­ing com­mit­ted ho­mo­sex­ual acts.

The ti­tle of The Imi­ta­tion Game comes from a pa­per that Tur­ing wrote in 1950 which jump-started the new realm of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (though Tur­ing called it me­chan­i­cal in­tel­li­gence). The Imi­ta­tion Game is based on a true story, but how much of it is true and how much made up turns the movie not into a true life ac­count of Tur­ing’s life but a film that is en­ter­tain­ing, well made - an ex­cel­lent achieve­ment, which, how­ever, leaves the viewer to be scep­ti­cal of the story.

Benedict Cumberbatch is su­perb. He plays Tur­ing per­fectly in all stages of his adult life. We see through him the pain of be­ing an out­sider as well as the joy of crack­ing the code. It’s a per­for­mance wor­thy of an Os­car. Keira Knight­ley is sur­pris­ingly good as Tur­ing’s love in­ter­est. As her char­ac­ter never ex­isted, Knight­ley is tasked with bring­ing emo­tion and fem­i­nin­ity into the film. She suc­ceeds. The standout in Tur­ing’s team is Goode. But is he who he says he is?

Di­rec­tor Morten Tyl­dum (Head­hunters) has beau­ti­fully crafted a movie that plays as a his­tory les­son, and all tech­ni­cal as­pects of the film are out­stand­ing; from the cos­tumes to the lus­cious cin­e­matog­ra­phy, to the sets. But it’s the script that most peo­ple will have a prob­lem with. Screen­writer Graham Moore, in writ­ing his first film script and who is cred­ited as an Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer, took many lib­er­ties in writ­ing this film. Whether this was done to make it more com­mer­cial and ex­cit­ing, it has suc­ceeded. But it’s not a 100% por­trayal of the life of Alan Tur­ing. Per­haps some­one in the fu­ture will make the de­fin­i­tive doc­u­men­tary. Two at­tempts to tell his story - the 1996 television movie Break­ing the Code, and 2011’s Code­breaker - were just that, at­tempts, and it was hoped that The Imi­ta­tion Game would be the de­fin­i­tive story of Tur­ing’s life, but alas it is not. But Tur­ing’s life, and legacy, live on.

Tur­ing even­tu­ally com­mit­ted sui­cide in 1954. In 2013, the Queen par­doned him.

What took so long?

The Im­i­ta­tion Game, di­rected by Morten Tyl­dum and star­ring Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch it out now.

BENE­DICT CUM­BER­BATCH AND CHARLES DANCE IN THE IM­I­TA­TION GAME

BENE­DICT CUM­BER­BATCH AS ALAN TURING IN THE IM­I­TA­TION GAME

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.