I haven’t been to the cinema much recently, but did so with a bang the other week. The Imitation Game is a wonderful film which gets just about everything right – great story, great cast, great performances. The director, Norwegian Morten Tyldum has also done a great job in putting it all together.
The story is fairly well known by now – English mathematician and pioneer of computers leads a team which eventually cracks the supposedly uncrackable German code machine, known as Enigma. Most of this was kept secret by successive governments for decades, so a lot of the personal details has only emerged into the public domain relatively recently.
Wrapped up in this tale is the personal tragedy of Alan Turing, the brains behind the codebreakers. For Turing was a homosexual, at a time when this was illegal and if discovered lead to imprisonment and personal ostracism. The film does not shy away from this blatant discrimination, but rather makes it a central part of the story. To highlight this aspect of the tale, the film begins and ends with the police exposing Turing as a homosexual with all that this will entail for his life and career.
It was not of course only homosexuals who were subject to brutal and humiliating discrimination. Though it was not illegal to be a woman, women were treated as inferior, second class citizens. In the film this comes out through the difficulties and obstacles that Joan Clarke, the one woman on the team had to overcome.
The film is in many ways as much an exposé of discrimination as it is the thrilling story of how the team did in the end break the Enigma codes. The filming captures the atmosphere of the times and the supporting cast are all very, very good. Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Matthew Goode as the previous leader of the team and Charle Dance as the rather pompous and nasty naval commander in overall charge of the team all deserve special mention. However Benedict Cumberbatch is simply outstanding as Alan Turing and gives a mesmerising and authentic performance. An excellent film which everyone should see. I end with one of the most memorable quotes from the film, which I assume, and certainly hope, is true. It is uttered by Turing as he graciously helps Joan Clarke overcome the prejudice and hostility that faced her as a woman. Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine. A beautiful thought which sums up the film and which should be remembered anytime prejudice