The Imitation Game is the ultimately tragic story of one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, Alan Turing. For those who don’t know the name, he was the driving force behind cracking the Enigma code that many people believe directly led to the end of WW2, but who was then convicted of Gross Indecency after being discovered to have been gay.
He spent the last year of his life suffering through a course of chemical castration drugs, and then committed suicide. Now, the movie isn’t about this. The bulk of the movie simply details the efforts of Turing and his team to break the Nazis’ code, but woven through it is a rich story of the development of Turing as a person, showing his troubled youth at boarding school in various scenes that formed the man he became. Taking out the code-breaking scenes, what we’re left with is the portrait of desperately lonely man that doesn’t cheapen itself by showing his secret daliances with other man. The script is a real winner in this respect, and the talent of Benedict Cumberbatch really comes out here. I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge fan, but he is fantastic in this movie. When I think of the recent Oscar noms I’ve actually watched, what a year for great performances (not including Cooper’s here, because I didn’t think he was all that good). He, Keaton, and Redmayne did utterly tremendous work.
The movie is very enjoyable, and full of a crushing sense of melancholy, and it was right at the end that I became angry. Turing’s fate was horrendous – I understand he was a man of his time, and laws were the laws and everyone knew them – but it’s almost hard to believe that here we are, only 60 years after a time when being gay was an actual crime that one could be dragged into court for, but sadly, still something that people are hated and bullied for in the so-called “civilized world” and indeed systematically murdered for in the increasingly primitive Middle East. What kind of achievements could Turing have gone on to have made? Could we be further along the road of information technology than we now are? It’s hard to say, of course, but Turing’s story is a tragic example of how terrible it is to waste a mind.
© Andrew Hope 2015