Nominated for 8 Oscars, The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch is a biopic about mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing, the father of theoretical computer science. His Turing machine, which was invented in World War II as part of British Intelligence’s project Ultra, served to solve Nazi encryption tactics based on Enigma machines. The code of these machines changed every 24 hours, proving impossible to break by even the most brilliant minds before it changed again. Turing believed rightly that the only way to beat a machine is with a machine, and the intriguing story and revolutionary results not only greatly affected history through the war, but also the information age as we know it.
Sadly, this more triumphant side of The Imitation Game is only part of the story. As a codebreaker, Turing knew a lot about secrets, but he also had a secret of his own—he was homosexual. In the 1950s, homosexuality in Britain was illegal. After the war, once Turing returned to university life at Manchester University, his sexuality was discovered, and he was jailed and forced to humiliating hormonal treatments despite being one of the most significant war heroes in modern history. He was not alone; tens of thousands of other British men and women were jailed, ostracized, forcibly given hormone treatment, and many killed themselves as a result. Turing is sadly among every category in that list.
Alan Turing helped to end the European side of World War II with a computer, an act no one could have imagined before him and one that ought to be commemorated. In the film’s most quotable line heralds its edifice, “sometimes it is the people whom no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
See it at SIFF Egyptian Theatre. (805 E Pine Street)
The Imitation Game
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 114 mins
Release Year: 2014
Country Of Origin: USA