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Film Review: The Imitation Game

On January 1, 2015

By Sophia Whitfield
The Imitation Game is the story of a hero whose life ended in tragic circumstances. It wasn’t until last year that Alan Turing was offered a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction of gross indecency. It is through flashbacks from both his childhood and his time in Bletchley Park that Turing’s story unfolds.

Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum, directs The Imitation Game from a screenplay by Graham Moore, based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.

In Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, England in 1939 Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) arrives at a heavily fortified Victorian mansion for a meeting with the head of the top-secret Government Code and Cypher School, naval Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance). The interview does not go well. Denniston finds the Cambridge mathematics graduate arrogant and is about to show him the door when Alan mentions Enigma, the German military code machine. Denniston points out that Enigma is unbreakable, but Turing responds that he should be allowed to try.

Turing joins a crew of scholars including Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), man about town, chess champion and leader of the group; John Cairncross (Allen Leech), Scottish and an inferior mathematician; Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard), a precocious Oxford undergraduate; and Furman and Richards, a couple of linguists, Turing sets himself the task of breaking Enigma. He coerces brilliant crossword solver and Cambridge mathematics graduate Joan Clark (Keira Knightley) to join the team. Turing’s relationship with Clark shows us a softer side to the complicated man.

At first unsuccessful, Turing perseveres under pressure. He overthrows leader Hugh Alexander by writing to Winston Churchill to secure his tenancy at Bletchley Park. He has to work hard to gain the respect of his peers.

Years later (1952) he lives as a recluse, an unsung war hero. When the British police turn up at Turing’s home to investigate a burglary they end up arresting him for gross indecency.

Cumberbatch and Knightly shine in this film. It is a moving account of Turing’s life focusing predominantly on his incredible contribution to World War II. It deserves all the Oscar whispers.

The Imitation Game is out in Australian cinemas today.

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