The Imitation Game
Film Review by Kam Williams
Bittersweet Biopic Chronicles Exploits of Cryptologist Who Cracked Nazi Code
At the outset of World War II, the Nazis gained the early advantage with the help of its Enigma, the encrypting machine which enabled the German military to communicate without having to worry about any messages being intercepted. In response, Winston Churchill deputized eccentric, math genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch)
to handpick a team comprised of fellow savants whose appointed mission would be to crack the Enigma’s inscrutable codes.
Operating on the campus of a cypher school located in Buckinghamshire’s Bletchley Park, Turing’s exceptional eggheads proceeded to embark upon a surreptitious race against time every bit as important as the fighting simultaneously unfolding on the battlefield. And when they finally did manage to decipher German communications, it remained important that they keep that fact a secret.
You see, the info unearthed afforded the Allies on the front lines a competitive advantage which would immediately be lost if the Nazis ever caught wind of the fact that their supposedly inscrutable commands were actually being intercepted. For, they would undoubtedly have simply altered their encrypting in an instant.
The British government credited Turing’s team with saving millions of lives while shortening the conflict in the European theater by a couple years. That important achievement is the subject of The Imitation Game, a bittersweet biopic directed by Norwegian Morten Tyldum (Headhunters).
Nominated for eight Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor (Cumberbatch), and Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), the film is based on “Alan Turing: The Enigma,” Andrew Hodges’ belated tribute to the unsung hero. Unfortunately, despite the pivotal role he had played, Turing was never really recognized as a national hero because of his homosexuality.
Instead, after the war, he had to suffer the indignity of being persecuted, arrested, convicted, and ultimately chemically castrated for being gay. That led the brilliant visionary to commit suicide while on the brink of inventing the computer.
Though that tragedy can never be undone, at least we live in more enlightened times, when an icon of Turing’s order might finally be afforded his due. A well-crafted character study which just might land the talented Benedict Cumberbatch a coveted Academy Award.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexual references, mature themes and smoking
Running time: 114 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company