Directed by Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game is about the team of code breakers at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. At the forefront of the film is protagonist Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) famed in history for creating the machine that broke the notorious Engima machine in which the German’s encripted all war time messages and was thought to be unbreakable. The film jumps between three time periods. Alan Turing’s school days, World War Two and his arrest in 1952 for being homosexual. Having visited Bletchley Park with my family a few years ago I was already familiar with the history and narrative of the film. As with many period films there are quite a few factual inaccuracies in order to make the plot more exciting and the film visually interesting. More information on this can be found on this here and here.
One of the things I liked about this film was that it depicted a different side of World War Two to what we’re used to seeing on our screens. It showed the important efforts and bravery of those working inside Britain and how important the code breaking was for the war effort. I also liked Keira Knightly’s character, Joan Clarke. A Cambridge maths graduate who had to hide her contributions and how she helped Turing at first due to the blatant sexism at the time. The film was also incredibly tense and exciting at times but also sad and heart breaking as some characters have to make unbelievably hard decisions. One aspect I was not a fan of was that it sometimes felt a bit like a court room drama jumping from his interview with police to his past experiences during the war and that was a technique that I found a bit cliche. The film also showed how unfairly Alan Turing was treated due to being homosexual even though his efforts in code breaking saved thousands of lives. At the end it flagged up that he was only ‘pardoned’ in 2013 at the end of the film. I think that raises the question more broadly as to why the thousands of other homosexual people who were imprisoned or worse have not been cleared of their convictions. However, the film is not a tragedy but far more of a celebration of Turing’s achievements and contribution to the war.
The key performances by Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing) and Keira Knightly (Joan Clarke) worked well, I felt they had good chemistry on screen. I think it would be easy to dismiss Cumberbatch’s performance as a rehashing of his role as BBC’s Sherlock, again another arrogant, socially challenged genius. But whilst I do think there are a lot of parallels between these two characters Cumberbatch does bring something different to this role that allows you as an audience to deeply empathise with his character and their struggles.
Overall I did enjoy the film, and I recommend it!