The Imitation Game (2014)

(Video on Demand, April 2015)  As a Computer Science major, I’ve been waiting at least twenty years for this biography of Alan Turing.  Consider: one of the father of computing, inventor of the Turing test, key figure in World War 2 war efforts, tragic victim of institutionalized homophobia… what’s not to like in Hollywood terms?  Of course, The Imitation Game takes rather large liberties with the historical facts, making Turing an arrogant and socially inept wunderkind and torturing the historical events to make it look as if Turing was the sole key figure in WW2 cryptography, maybe even war-making strategy.  As much as these deviation from fact rankle (and never more so than when a team of analysts gets to decide how to use their decrypted information in specific tactical engagements), they do try to streamline Turing’s often-complicated life into something that can be presented in a movie theater.  Benedict Cumberbatch is (delightfully) practically playing Sherlock-as-Turing, which is a treat for those who like him in that mode and less of a treat for those who don’t find his persona interesting.  Matthew Goode steals a bit of the spotlight as Turing’s almost-entirely-fictional opponent, while actors such as Charles Dance and Mark Strong plays what they’re best known for.  The historical re-creation is fine (it’s a bit of a treat to see Bletchley Park on-screen), and the war sequences are used without dwelling on the combats.  It doesn’t amount to anything but a prestige bio-fiction in the classical mold, but it does present at least the basics of Turing’s life, and makes a good case arguing for the tragic waste of his last few years.  It’s also an interesting companion to other recent British-scientist biographies such as Creation and The Theory of Everything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *