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Movie review: The Imitation Game

Roslyn Hull

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.” IMDB

Amidst the hubbub of family movies there are a few for grown ups.

I love ‘family’ movies and heartily recommend the one I also saw this week, Big Hero 6, for everyone, especially teens and young adults. It is great fun and comments on acceptance, revenge and loss in a balanced, non-judgmental way.

The Imitation Game does not need to be judgmental (about the British social and legal system) either – the audience will do that for them. At least I did. Which may mean the script is a little biased but better biased than banal I say.

Several comments in the media have also taken the accuracy of the science depicted to task. Again, do I care? As one commentator said, if I want all the facts I can read Andrew Hodges rather long biography that the film is based on.

Instead, we are told a story of the man we should all know about – he is the father of every one of the computers that power our lives, for heaven’s sake. More than that he should be regarded as one of the heroes of the Second World War. Bravely believing in his brain and his perseverance rather than the system. Nobly functioning (if at times just barely) in a society that disregarded, and finally condemned, him.

As the mantra of the film goes

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

This is uttered three times by three different characters and each time is more telling than the last. Like the code Turing is trying to break, and indeed the man himself, this story is complex. Events are not shown chronologically but are revealed at the precise moment they will have the greatest impact on the story. Brilliant.

Part English lit 101, part Biggles and part James Bond (I’m not kidding – read the trivia on IMDB for some interesting tidbits) it adds up to the amazing but also sad and unfulfilled life of an incredible man depicted by an incredible actor. Benedict Cumberbatch could get an Oscar for this.

It is a strong introduction to English language films for the Norse director, Morten Tyldum. However I suspect more awards may go to production designer Maria Djurkovic (read that trivia page) or the costumes, or the music … it is all first class. As is the supporting cast of Brits with stiff upper lips for days. From Mark Strong to Keira Knightly and Charles Dance, what a team. They all seem to have grasped the ethos of the film, with Matthew Beard describing the Hut 8 Team at Bletchley Park as the Avengers in tweed.

Be prepared to be on the edge of your seat and into the tissues. I still felt sad a day later. No, not just sad but depressingly questioning all the evil in the world done by people why believe they are on the side of right, who mean well.

Who are still with us now.

I know LGBTQ issues are not resolved. Neither are so many other issues in our crazy world, so for Stuart Richards on ABC’s The Drum to reduce the movie to one aspect with his grasp at a sound bite –  ‘You can’t have your gay cake and eat it too’ – puh-lease.

Because we don’t see sex scenes between Turing and a rent boy means it’s not gay enough? Nobody complained when Scorsese reduced the yearning between Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer to one sentence. Instead Age of Innocence was lauded as a great love story. There is just one kiss in any and all versions of Pride and Prejudice too. Pretty sure that one is incredibly romantic too.

At the heart of this film there is a love story that is handled delicately and, to my mind, well. However it is not the whole story.

Alan Turing is the story and even now he is still an enigma.


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

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