I have to write for my life these next two days if I want to win.
How did you guys make out?
Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
Book Geek Quote #663
The Imitation Game
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Written by Graham Moore
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Based on the book by Andrew Hodges,
English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.
Secrets. When you think of spies and war and government, are your first thoughts about the secrets our governments keep from us, from each other and even themselves? Secrets are at the very heart of The Imitation Game. The Germans have the greatest secret and it was winning them the war. Their secret was Enigma and in itself it was an enigma to the rest of the world. One of the brilliant minds behind Nazi communications created an unbreakable code. England and her allies could intercept messages but they could not read them, because Enigma was unbreakable.
Until a 27 year old student from Cambridge walks into the home office and declares that he can and will crack the code. And, so begins one of the most entertaining, smart and heartfelt films I’ve seen this year.
The thing about The Imitation Game is that it’s not just filled with amazing performances, because it is. It’s not that it’s filled with historical events that I had no idea ever happened, because it is. The thing about The Imitation Game is that it’s funny. Which is one of the many things that delighted me and will stick with me. I laughed.
I didn’t laugh at the fact that Alan Turing was extremely awkward, I laughed because people couldn’t understand how extremely honest he was. I didn’t laugh because he had no understanding of social politeness, no, I laughed because it’s ridiculous that the people around him were too stupid to see how generous he was. This is an important distinction that the filmmakers delivered beautifully on the screen. You do not laugh at Alan Turing, you laugh at the world that was not at all ready for a man like him, but he chose to save anyway.
And he did. Alan Turing and his team Jane, Hugh and the others who stood behind his outlandish idea of a machine that thinks, saved the world as we know it. The Turing machine was directly responsible for saving 14 million lives, ending the war two years early and stopped Hitler and his Nazi’s in their tracks.
There is so much more I want to know about Alan Turing and that’s because Benedict Cumberbatch played him with so much emotion, so much feeling in his blue eyes that I felt for Alan Turing. I understood him. I was proud of him and the sadness that was his life breaks my heart.
Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician, he won the war with math and patterns and puzzles. He and his team were equally responsible for the winning of the war as Winston Churchill, the allies and the soldiers on the battlefield, he was the mind that cracked the impossible code. But you’ve probably never heard of him.
Secrets. Alan Turing had many secrets. Secrets about the war, secrets about his discoveries and secrets about himself. These secrets he carried around with him all of his life, and yet he continued to work to solve the puzzle. He continued to work to save the world.
This film’s success rests on the history, the tension of war and the relationships of the decoders behind solving the impossible puzzle. Keira Knightley gives one of her better performances as a modern woman in an old fashioned world. She is smarter than all the other men in the room, but she’s pretty and she’s a woman so how could she possibly get anything done. Matthew Goode, plays a man so charming and so socially in tuned, it seems impossible that he could be smart, but he is. There’s an intelligence behind those good looks that allows him to see past the bluster that is Alan and acknowledge the mind that may just be right.
Alan reminded me of Mr. Darcy. And not because Keira Knightley plays their counterpoints in adaptations of books about them. Both men had status, Darcy for his pounds and Alan for his intelligence. Both men had horrible reputations for being arrogantly insufferable and both men had those reputations simply because they could not completely understand the normality of social interactions. The difference is that Alan Turing was real and lived an extremely lonely existence, because he was not like everyone else. There are moments when “normal” people have normal interactions and Alan Turing sits in absolute confusion.
This is a man who can solve the most difficult equations in the world, but average subtext is beyond his sphere. His complete social ineptitude makes him endearing, but must have been insufferable in everyday life. And yet, his team worked with him day in and day out from the time the morning Nazi communications came in at 6 am until midnight when all their work was useless because the code changed.
The filmmakers and the amazing Benedict present a man that all outsiders will understand. I have bipolar disorder, I am low on the spectrum, but it still means that my mind literally does not process like “normal” people. So, seeing a man whose mind also functioned differently do something so amazing, inspires me. Especially, when you consider the odds that were stacked up against this man.
The tension, the frustration and the fear is evident. Because, these people had the weight of the world on their shoulders. When we think of WWII we think of bombs and concentration camps, but this war also impacted so much of just everyday life. The Nazi’s bombed ships carrying food and other supplies to the people of Europe. It just wasn’t war, it was a siege on a worldwide level. People starved, people got sick because they couldn’t get the right supplies. All of this changed with the braking of Enigma.
Another great aspect of this film is the question of morality. Do the lives of few worth saving millions? Who gets to decide who lives and who dies? Are humans allowed to play God?
There are scenes filled with such emotions that I literally felt my heart break. I felt the weight of their decisions of their choices press down on me as if they were my decisions, as if they were my choices.
I enjoyed this film. It’s intelligent, but I didn’t feel like I was in a classroom. It’s filled with so much more than history and science. It’s about love, it’s about the secrets we keep from one another. It’s about how our governments fails us and how it saves us.
It’s just great. I highly recommend it.