Friday, January 16, 2015

"The Imitation Game" (2014)

I have seen this film a few times already. Well, just about. This is the typical “broken genius” story, told in the same way that it almost always is. It is well done, mind you. Or, even if it is just a workable effort, the job done by the lead actor carries it up onto the list of films that should be considered amongst the greats of 2014.

And the job Cumberbatch does is really good. As just one example amongst many, there is a scene in the film where his character, the mathematician Alan Turing, has what looks like a panic attack and I am not at all sure that Cumberbatch isn’t really experiencing one.

Where the film loses its way a bit is in the story itself. It is trying to accomplish too much. Is this a WWII film? A story about psychological struggles? The story of the invention of computers? An attempt to raise awareness of the plight of homosexuals? It tries to do all and in doing so it sells almost every storyline short.

And that is a shame, really. Turing is a fascinating person. Science fans know him primarily as the man who came up with the Turing Test to evaluate Artificial Intelligence. He is also the father of computer science. And, according to this film and the book it was based on, he pretty much single handedly won WWII.

That is where this film works best and where it should have been focused.

That is not to say that the homosexual subplot should have been ignored, but it is strange the way this film choses to handle it. In the marketing, it appears to be the most important part of the film, but the film actually closets Turing’s sexual orientation for most of the story. Then, when it does address it, it seems to equate it with his quirks that may have extended to something like Autism. I am not sure Turing would have liked the way he was “reduced” to a sexual orientation in this story.

(I am also not sure what thinking lay behind “treating” homosexual men by literally emasculating them. Another horrific aspect of our history that perhaps should be explored in a story, but not in a secondary afterthought the way it comes across in this film.)


  1. The film is very well done on all levels. It’s suspenseful, even though, as in all World War II movies, we know who wins, but it’s the how that holds us, not the what.

  2. The Imitation Game both brings to life and pays tribute to Turing's history-altering and pioneering work that paved the way for modern computing.


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