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article imageReview: Nothing artificial about ‘The Imitation Game’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 12, 2014 in Entertainment
‘The Imitation Game’ is the fascinating story of Alan Turing (played by an indelible Benedict Cumberbatch) and his contributions to a top secret military project that turned the tides in WWII.
So many of history’s prodigies have been outcasts, either because people felt dissociated by their intelligence or some other idiosyncrasy made them different. However, these issues tended to be obstacles for those around them rather than hindrances to their own work. Unless, as in Alan Turing’s case, his divergence is made an issue of more importance than his intellectual contributions. The Imitation Game chronicles one of Turing’s most notable and veiled achievements, as well as the secret that would eventually destroy him.
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a mathematical prodigy at Cambridge, though he feels behind the achievements of his contemporaries such as Albert Einstein. He, along with chess champion Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and four of Britain’s best cryptographers, are recruited during WWII to crack the unbreakable code used for German communications known as Enigma. While the other five team members work tirelessly at decoding messages on an 18-hour clock, Turing sits in a corner designing the blueprints for a machine that will decipher the code for them. Faith and trust are in short supply, but Turing’s machine could be the key to winning the war.
The film is based on Andrew Hodges’ book, Alan Turing: The Enigma, which is a play on both the name of the puzzle and the man himself. The movie primarily occurs in three time periods. The main one is 1941, when Turing worked on decrypting the German code. Not only did he become a covert national hero (Winston Churchill said Turing’s was the single biggest contribution to victory against the Nazis), but he became friends with his team members — a feat that seemed as impossible as the mission. He built a particularly special bond with Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), who not only complemented his mind but gave him social acceptance. The earlier timeline depicts Turing’s first love in 1930 — a classmate who accepted his eccentricities and introduced him to cryptography. The “present” section portrays the investigation into Turing’s personal life that would lead to his prosecution for homosexual acts and a sentence that would prompt him to end his life a year later.
The movie’s title refers to a test designed by Turing in which an isolated judge must determine if he is speaking to a person or computer; if the judge’s accuracy is below 50 per cent, the computer is determined to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, a human. Similarly, Turing’s logical approach to every situation often caused people to wonder if he was more computer than man.
The actors identified here are exceptional. Cumberbatch captures Turing’s social awkwardness perfectly, as well as the spark that lights up his eyes when he realizes something brilliant. Goode is outstanding as the dashing and flirtatious genius who has little tolerance for Turing’s behaviour early on, which results in some violent confrontations. Knightley is captivating as the young woman excited to be given the opportunity to engage her mind in something worthy of its ability rather than wasting away in a secretary pool. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum does an excellent job of guiding the narrative, arousing excitement, disappointment, anger and sorrow at just the right moments.
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode
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