Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on The Imitation Game

imitation_gameBenedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley star in this biopic about mathematician Alan Turing.  During World War II, Turing (Cumberbatch) is hired by the British government to join a top team of code-breakers, fellow members of which include Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and Joan Clarke (Knightley), who are tasked by MI6 chief Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) to crack Nazi Germany's Enigma code, which would help to turn the tide of the war.  Instead of manually trying to crack the code, Turing instead designs a machine that can decipher the code faster than the human mind can.  Despite being at odds with his teammates and his boss Commander Denniston (Charles Dance), Turing insists that this machine will work and is the only option for winning the war.

As someone with an information technology background, I was definitely familiar with the name of Alan Turing, since the machine that he invented was the precursor to modern computers.  The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), tells Turing’s life story, focusing primarily on his work as a code-breaker during World War II.  The film decides to go for a bit of non-linear narrative, jumping between three periods of Turing’s life.  While the main plotline of the film takes place during the 1940s, the film also features flashbacks to Turing’s time as a bullied schoolchild, as well as flash-forwards to the early 1950s.

As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I was particularly interested in how Benedict Cumbercatch’s performance as Alan Turing supports the belief that the mathematician possibly had the autism spectrum disorder.  In the film, Turing is portrayed as a social outcast, who had only one friend in school and frequently focuses more on his work than social interactions with his colleagues.  In fact, Turing’s somewhat non-normal nature becomes a bit of a plot point in the film, since it is the way that Turing thinks that helped to crack the Nazi code.

I don’t want to delve too much into “real life spoiling the movie,” but I will say that the film also focuses on some aspects of Turing’s life that ended up somewhat overshadowing his accomplishments.  The way that Turing’s life ultimately turned out, ends up giving the film a bit of a dour and somewhat melodramatic footnote.  While the ending of the film is not outright depressing, it does somewhat undermine the film that had come before.

For the most part, I can say that I liked The Imitation Game.  As a lover of technology, I did enjoy the aspect of the film that focused on Alan Turing’s role in the creation of modern computing.  Of course, the film also focuses on how Turing’s work was underappreciated at the time and the film does sink into melodrama towards the end.  However, I can still say that I overall enjoyed the film.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).