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The Imitation Game

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When we usually think of war films, images of intense battle, great loss of life, comradely or perhaps even epic romance come to mind.

Nominated for Best Picture for the 2015 Oscars, The Imitation Game instead focuses on the life of Alan Turing, a British mathematician who worked as cryptographer during WWII. At the Government Code and Cypher School in Britain, Alan and his team try desperately to break the German Naval Enigma code in order to thousands of lives.

Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a wonderful performance as Alan Turing. The character is instantly unlikable, stubborn and socially inadequate he manages to annoy not just his code breaking team but his superiors. But he is an undeniable genius with good intentions; working to build a machine that will be able to decipher the enigma code.

After the war, scientists referred to this model as Turing machines. Today we know them as computers.

The film boasts also a fantastic supporting cast, such as Charles Dance (Game of Thrones), Matthew Goode (Stoker) and Keira Knightly (Last Night) as the only female cryptographer, Joan Clarke.

The film can be defined by one theme: secrets. Each day the team deciphers secret messages in a secret location, and even when the code is deciphered, they must hide this knowledge too.

The biggest secret though is that Alan Turing was a closeted gay man. He works very hard throughout the film to make sure he’s not discovered. But in 1952 after some dealings with the police, Turing is charged with indecency, as homosexuality was illegal at that time. The suffering he endures highlights just how dangerous and illogical prejudice can be and really packs an emotional punch for the audience.

What’s most striking about The Imitation Game is how important Alan Turing was in the history of WWII, but how little the public knows about it. His name was never mentioned when I was taught history in school. It wasn’t till the 1990s that the Bletchley Parks files and Turing’s notes were declassified by the National Security Agency.

The Imitation Game is an engaging and emotional film that explores not only the heroic efforts of a small few during WWII, but the importance of brilliant and misunderstood man.


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