Like I mentioned in previous weeks, I want to review something at the end of each month. Since, technically, this will be the last Sunday of the month, I decided to review something. And although I don’t have a “genre” of the month, like I will be having in the months to follow, I decided to write about a movie that I had previously seen that I feel as though falls under the Science-Fiction category. The movie I am talking about is The Imitation Game by director, Morten Tyldum.
To be honest, I am not usually a fan of historical movies. I don’t know what it is about them, or why, but I just don’t. Anyways, my friend wanted me to go, so I went. And, well, I was thoroughly impressed.
In short, this movie is about all that went on behind the scenes at a British facility called, Bletchley Park. It starts off with the recruitment of Alan Turing and others who need to break the Nazi Germany transition signal device called, Enigma. All of the people recruited are mathematicians and Turing, as discussed in an interview in the movie, is a “prodigy” at math, having published his greatest piece of work by the age of 24.
The device, stolen out of Germany, is much harder than it seems and has different combinations of ways to transmit an encrypted message—in fact, 159 million million possibilities. In the movie Turing builds a machine single-handedly that will try to outwit this Enigma machine because as he says, “Only a machine can beat another machine.” This quote was one of my favorite because it foreshadows this idea of the future of our society with the advancement of technology. But, I digress. One of his greater lines in the movie is “What if a machine can only beat a machine?”
Anyways, they eventually figure it out but cannot act on it all the time because, if they do, then the Germans will have figured out that they cracked Enigma. So, instead, they strategically plan what battles they are going to win so that they win the war. The idea behind that (and in the movie they use D-Day as an example) is very awesome. This idea, however, may be a little bit fictionalized as a great blog post by L.V. Anderson located here, describes the main differences between the movie and what actually happened in real life. These real life events, and what the screenplay was written off of, is based on a book by Andrew Hodges called, Alan Turing the Enigma: The Book That Inspired the Film, “The Imitation Game.” You can locate that book with this link located here.
Anderson does a great job at explaining what is real and what is fictionalized. As she was going through it, sans a point about sandwiches being a major “plot point” in the story, it was really valuable. And although it’s valuable to understand these differences, I think it’s also valuable to understand why the director chose to shoot this movie the way he did. And that, my readers, is about conflict. If you ask any writer the three fundamental rules of writing are: (1) conflict, (2), conflict, (3) conflict. Without conflict there is no tension and thus we can’t really become involved in the characters’ lives and feel for them when they are going through tough times. Most of what is changed in this movie is done to create a more immediate sense of conflict (probably why I thought the movie was so great) or also to evoke a sense of poetic symbolism. An example of the latter is that the machine that Turing builds is called Christopher whereas Anderson mentions it was called Bombe. Is the name really going to change much in terms of the story-sequences? No. But it does change a lot in the story-telling and gives the readers a sense of “payoff” at the end after the “set-up” done in the earlier parts of the chronology in the movie where we learn that a boy Christopher was Alan Turing’s first true love. It is accurate that Turing is homosexual, although it seems as though he was more open about it in real life than how he appears in the movie says Anderson.
Anyways, with all that being said, this was a great movie. I highly recommend seeing it. It got nominated for 8 Oscars which is pretty impressive. The acting was great all around and Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Alan Turing did a great job in character (even though it’s not historically accurate). Kiera Knightly does another fabulous job as Joan Clarke in this movie. Who knows if the actors are going to get Oscars for their roles, but I definitely think they deserve the nominations.
The only thing that bugged me about this movie was the seemingly random ending. The movie itself is split into two different time periods—present day and past. The present day stuff seems all rather contrived and I was much more interested in the past events and working on Christopher to beat the enigma device.
What blows me away is that Alan Turing died at the age of 41 after being on estrogen pills for a year to try and curb his homosexuality. He committed suicide. Just imagine if none of that would have happened and we would have had his mind for another 20 or so years at least. The advancement we would have seen would have been phenomenal. I already believe that his Christopher is paramount in the establishment of the computer we have and use today.
In conclusion, this is 5 out of 5 stars for me. Go see it while you still can in theaters!!! If you’ve seen the movie, I would love to get your take on it. Comment below. Or, if you’ve read the book, it’d be awesome to see what you have to say on this man too!
Michael E. Thies
P.S. If you want to suggest what type of fantasy or science-fiction you want the next month (February) will focus around, please don’t be afraid to mention it in the comments.