Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Imitation Game

"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine". This propitious phrase is uttered three times over the course of The Imitation Game, the Oscar bait biopic based on the life of Alan Turing, an astute mathematician turned war-time code breaker, who ultimately saved the lives of millions of British citizens. This emotive character drama skips between three time periods, Turing's distressing school years, the tumultuous times in the infamous 'Hut 8' at Bletchley Park and Turing's downfall after the police are notified about break in at his home, that eventually leads to the detection of Turing's true sexual orientation resulting in the appallingly inhumane treatment of a tortured genius, way ahead of his time.

In 1938 after being warily hired by Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance) Turing along with a team of less than welcoming colleagues including renowned chess player Hugh 'he's a bit of a cad' Alexander (Matthew Goode), set about the arduous and infuriating task of cracking the 'impossible' German Enigma code. This takes the team to the very limit of their sanity and patience. Directed by Morten Tyldum (best known for the Nordic noir flick Headhunters) Tyldum ensures a laudatory personification of the unsung British war hero, whilst intertwining it with the dominant pulsing streak of cruelty infused throughout Turing's turbulent life. 

Opposite Cumerbatch's complex performance is Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke a sprightly Cambridge maths graduate. Joan's quick crossword solving skills sees her earn a place alongside Turing's team as well as gaining his friendship, a feat seemingly more difficult than the Enigma code itself. Together they navigate the highs and lows of Turing constructing the Enigma defeating machine "Bombe" (named Christopher), along with Clarke shedding light on the one cryptic puzzle Alan couldn't ever quite solve, the intricacies of human relationships. 

Andrew Hodges, whose biography the film is based upon, has criticised the hamming up of Clarke and Turing's relationship, stating that 'they have built up the relationship with Joan, much more than it actually was' suggesting that Graham Moore's screenplay isn't coy when it comes to dramatic license. Despite Hodges being 'alarmed by the inaccuracies' The Imitation Game encapsulates the patriotism and unrelenting determination shown by Britain during the Second World War, in revealing our finest and darkest war time hours simultaneously.


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