Essential Opinion: The Imitation Game

The tragic story of a World War II hero who falls from grace, The Imitation Game is a provocative and thrilling drama based on the life of world-renowned mathematician, Professor Alan Turing.  Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness), the film opens during 1952, as Turing’s apartment has been vandalized.  Though nothing was stolen, the inspectors find the situation odd and choose to investigate further, unaware that they are investigating one of the greatest pioneers of modern computing.  This is height of the Cold War paranoia, and some believe Turing to be a spy.

At the outset of World War II, Professor Turing was selected to serve his country in a special capacity.  Turing was invited to be a part of a secret mission to crack Nazi Germany’s “unbreakable” Enigma code machine.  As one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his day, Turing was assigned to work alongside fellow mathematicians, code breakers, cryptanalysts, and chess champions, such as Hugh Alexander (Matthew William Goode), Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) and John Cairncross (Allen Leech).  Socially awkward and not overall fond of his team members, Turing realizes the Enigma code machine cannot be solved by a group of men alone, so he begins work on his own code breaking machine by seeking funding from his superiors in MI6.  Dubbed, “Christopher,” Turing’s machine would go on to be the basis for modern computers.

The Imitation Game

As the film unfolds we see Turing as an odd and secretive man.  At the risk of cliché, Turing is, himself, the Engima.  Turing expresses an odd love for “Christopher,” which at first seems fairly normal for an awkward scientist on the brink of an incredible discovery.  However, the audience soon discovers an even deeper connection to the machine.  During flashback scenes, Turing is shown as a young boy in boarding school (played by Alex Lawther).  A loner who is often bullied for being different, Turing is doing his best to fade into the background.  It is here where his closeted homosexuality comes to light.  The object of his secretive affections: an older boy named Christopher.

When the real life Christopher dies during a holiday break, the young Alan Turing is left alone, and forces himself to bottle up his emotions.  Years later, while building “Christopher” for MI6, Turing is finally able to recreate the love he’s had to keep hidden for so many years.  “Christopher” lets Turing be himself again yet still woefully closeted to the rest of the world, with the exception of Joan Clarke (Knightley), who offers to marry and serve as Turing’s beard after the war.

Turing’s story grows more complicated in the years following the war.  As part of MI6, Turing’s war records are top secret.  Therefore, as inspectors are investigating the break-in at Turing’s home, they grow suspicious of the sketchy details available on the man.  Fearing he may be a Soviet spy, Turing is arrested as a case is built against him.  Turing is vindicated and proven to be a war hero, rather than a spy.  However, another secret; his greatest secret has come to light. Turing is a homosexual.

Convicted of “gross indecency,” Professor Alan Turing dies at the age of 41, alone and shamed by the government he worked so hard to save less than a decade prior.

Though hindsight is always 20/20, The Imitation Game gives us a fair and balanced glance at the tragedies that prejudice and inequality can cause.  Turing achieved more in one war-torn decade than Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  If fears of spies, conspiracies, and homosexuals had not ruled the 1950’s, imagine what other gifts the brilliant mathematician could have offered the world.  Instead, Prof. Alan Turing is a fallen war hero in the war of inequality.

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All pictures reproduced courtesy of STUDIOCANAL

Dave Croyle

Dave Croyle

Dave Croyle is an advertising and marketing professional with a knack for building ideas and getting things done. Throughout his career he has written and produced creative work for a variety of brands, big and small. As a history buff and art geek, Dave is passionate about exploring cultures and seeing the world. Dave resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and two dogs.