The Imitation Game is a 2014 historical thriller film about British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing who was a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s naval Enigma code which helped the Allies win the Second World War, only to later be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality.
This movie does not glamourise homosexuality, neither does it portray Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) in a lurid light. It very simply tells, in a matter-of-factly tone, the story of a genius who was bent on solving the world’s most difficult puzzle.
Sounds familiar? It is not difficult to see why Cumberbatch, of BBC drama series Sherlock Holmes fame, was selected to play the part. It does seem that these days, characters with some sort of Asperger’s syndrome (see detective Adrian Monk in Mr Monk, Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory, Oh of Home – the upcoming cartoon voiced by Jim Parsons, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez) are getting a lot of attention. While one cannot help but be worried that he is increasingly pigeonholed into playing such roles, Cumberbatch fits the part to a T.
Turing’s story is told in a dignified, no-frills, autobiographical manner – the best way, I feel, to do justice to the man’s memory.
I sincerely wish that this award-winning movie will do well at the box office, not only because I love watching Benedict Cumberbatch, but because the world deserves to know that the Allied forces won the war not just because of military stratagem, but because there was a highly-cerebral university math professor leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers working behind the scenes against all odds to crack the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine.
And when they finally succeeded, helping to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives, Turing and his team could not immediately be credited because their operation was top secret.
Sadly, Turing was an intellectual ahead of his time. He may have designed a complicated computer and overturned masochistic stereotypes, but ultimately was felled by an anachronistic society who despised him for the way he was.
The film is directed by Morten Tyldum, with a screenplay by Graham Moore based on the biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, and also stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance and Mark Strong.
The film had its world premiere at the 41st Telluride Film Festival in August 2014. It also featured at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival in September last year where it won “People’s Choice Award for Best Film”, the highest award of the festival. It had its European premiere as the opening film of the 58th BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.
The Imitation Game has been nominated in eight categories for the 87th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Tyldum, Best Actor for Cumberbatch and Best Supporting Actress for Keira Knightley. It also garnered five nominations in the 72nd Golden Globe Awards and was nominated in three categories at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. In addition, it received nine British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations including Best Film and Outstanding British Film.
The Imitation Game opens in Singapore cinema from 22 Jan 2015. Go catch it!