Friday, January 30, 2015

Film Review: The Imitation Game


I want you to stop and think for a moment about what your life would be like if the computer had never been invented. No blogging. No Wikipedia. No smartphones. NoYoutube. No video games. Nothing.

Now I want you to go see this movie and learn about the man whose innovations gave it all to us, and the appalling way he was thanked him for it.


The Imitation Game tells the amazing and terrible tale of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who cracked Germany's supposedly unbreakable Enigma Code during World War II. It is estimated that his success in the cracking the code enabled the Allies to win the war 2-3 years sooner than would have been possible otherwise, saving an estimated 14 million lives. The movie follows he and his team's desperate race to crack the code, but more than that it attempts to give viewers an understanding of who Alan Turing was, and what his life what like. Make no mistake, this is not a World War II film in the traditional sense; it is more like a memoir, a personal window into his life.

The film is really, really beautifully done. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Alan Turing masterfully. His ability to communicate so much using nothing but facial expressions never ceases to amaze me. I also think he did a fantastic job portraying Alan's little quirks- it is suspected that he had Asperger's. My little brother has Asperger's and so I feel qualified to say Benedict did an excellent job portraying that aspect of the character both accurately and respectfully.

I also really loved the words at the end of the film. I don't want to ruin it for anyone (can you ruin the story of someone who actually lived?), but I was really happy that they emphasized the points they did as heavily as they did.

Historically based movies are very near and dear to my heart, especially movies like this, movies that tell the stories of people that should never have been forgotten, but that so few know about. By all rights Alan Turing should be as much of a household name as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, or Steve Jobs. Modern society owes so much to this man and yet he is utterly erased from history books and science classes. I want to believe that part of his erasure has to do with the fact that I grew up in the US and we like to pretend that we and we alone were responsible for bringing the Second World War to an end, and that maybe he is more of a common name in the UK. You'll have to let me know. But either way it is pitiful that so few people know who he was and what he gave us.

You'll forgive me if I seem I'm being dramatic about this, but these stories in history absolutely break my heart. I left the theater with tears streaming down my face because it just kills me that people are capable of being so cruel. And because no matter what we do now, no matter how many people come to know who he was and all the amazing things he did, nothing can take back the pain Alan Turing suffered in his own lifetime, or the fact that he died with his groundbreaking achievements hidden away from the world and before he could see all the amazing things that came of his work. 

I am absolutely ecstatic that this movie has been made and that his story is being told on such a large scale. When we were leaving the theater we heard people saying they were going to go home and look him up, and that is the true power of this film I think. That people will go see the movie thinking it looks interesting and walk out wanting to know more about the man.

I really cannot recommend this movie enough. If you have the opportunity to, please take the time to go see it. And if you can't then please make sure to rent it once it comes out on DVD. And maybe spent twenty minutes or so on his Wikipedia page. His is a name that should never be forgotten, both because of what he gave us and because of what society did to him.

Have you seen the film? What did you think? Did you know his story before the movie came out? I'd love to talk more about this in the comments.

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