Sunday, April 19, 2015
Special Cinema Spotlight: The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game is one of those films that tells a story that everyone should hear. It is based on the life of Alan Turing who was a math prodigy and whose computer knowledge helped break the notorious German Enigma computer. This is said to have shortened WWI by two years and have countless lives. Needless to say, Turing was a Hero. A national one at that.
He was multi-talented, highly intelligent, seemingly descent fellow but in the years that would follow after WWII his life would change in a way that today most people deem an inhumane. Turing was charged with lewd behavior as until the 1960's in the UK, homosexuality was deemed an offense and one could serve prison time if caught. In 1952, he started a relationship with a much younger man, there was a burglary, Turing report the young man, and the truth came out. He was convicted with the charge of gross indecency under Section 11 and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 and told he had a choice of prison (by which he wouldn't be able to continue his beloved work) or probation (by which he had endure injections of synthetic estrogen).
Turing's need to work and commitment to his work made him choose probation. The injections made him ill and one of the side effects was the growth of female breasts. This was done in the hopes that the homosexual urges would cease and he would be "cured".
Turing sadly died in June 1954 and the cause was cyanide poisoning. Some claim suicide, some claim exposure to his experiments, nevertheless it took until the year 2013 for Turing to be pardoned for his crime.
The film portrays his life almost like a poem. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing who narrates the film. In the beginning the viewer is told to pay attention and by the middle of the film you hear those same words being spoken to an officer as Turing explains who he is and what he has done.
The film goes back and forth between 1939, when he is working at Bletchley Park and 1952, when he has been arrested. The supporting cast constantly points out how different and difficult he was to be around but whether or not he really was the way Cumberbatch describes him as in his acting, you begin to empathize with this seemingly socially awkward yet kind hearted young man.
It reminded me that there are people who are acutely sensitive or so intelligent they don't know how to get one with "normal" social situations or who are incredibly introverted and shy. No matter how he really was in real life, the story of his life in this film is beautifully told.
At the end of the film you are basically asked, who do you think he is/was? He was a man, he was very intelligent, he was gay, and he was a long distance runner. He was many things as we all are. Should he be remembered for his crime, the way he died, or for the work he gave the world?
Today we basically have computer knowledge and technology because of him. I am writing this on a computer to you because of him. To me he was a hero and for everything he gave the world his story should always be remembered. And if you can see this film, I saw watch it closely and asked yourself who do you think he was.
If you would like to read more about Alan Turing or the people who worked with him, here are some links:
Who Were The Real Code Breakers
Alan Turing: The Enigma
Alan Turing: Unlocking The Enigma
The Secret Lives of Codebreakers