Imagine a world in which human reproduction is asexual. There is no need for a partner in any sense of the term and it has become the social norm for us to live alone, lest we forget our duties for self genesis and the ongoing population growth of androgynous mankind. Romantic relationships between asexual humans has been deemed illegal and punishable be either prison or chemical reprogramming. In such a world, should anyone, mathematics genius or window cleaner, be put through such hardship? Should they not all be retrospectively pardoned as better understanding develops?
Apologies for the extensive biologically-based moral question of an introduction, but for us it goes to the very heart of The Imitation Game, the movie adaptation of Alan Turing’s life. Apart from the sheer might of Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting, the real triumph of the film is in highlighting the plight of the 49,000 men and women that were prosecuted for indecency as a result of being gay.
While Turing has now been pardoned, thanks largely to the significance of his contribution to the war effort and early computer science, the rest remain historical criminals and the movie makes this one of its central closing points. You don’t need to be a renowned mathematician to work out that 1 in 49,000 is a pretty low percentage (0.00204082% by the way), so for anyone wishing to show their support for the remaining 48,999 to redress the balance, you can add your voice to the Change.org petition here.
The screenplay for the movie was written by Graham Moore and looks at portions of Alan Turing’s life as a leading cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park, with flashbacks on his troubled childhood at boarding school and the portrayal of the time leading up to his suicide following prosecution for homosexuality and his resulting chemical castration. It is on the face of things an impressive review of the tragedy with more than a few moving and emotional scenes covering the tumultuous period in history. It went on win the 2015 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, which acts as a pretty good indication of its power to connect with the audience.
However, the main negative for us is that it would appear that there are more than a few factual inaccuracies riddled throughout the plot of The Imitation Game, which sort of taints our overarching appreciation of the film a little. There’s critical question marks over the portrayal of Turing as being socially inept to the point of seeming to have Asperger syndrome, along with inaccuracies around Churchill’s time as Prime Minister, the Russian spy working with Turing, the level of responsibility over tactical war decisions they had and the timeline for his chemical castration medication, to name but a few.
In hindsight it’s tough not to judge the film as a result of these and while there’s definitely an argument in favour of the importance of creative license to make a movie more interesting, we can’t help but think this could have been achieved without glossing over the facts quite so badly.
On the other hand Benedict Cumberbatch (12 Years A Slave) is genuinely brilliant in the role of the great mathematician and apart from the overly inflated social difficulties he does a skillful job of crafting such a complex, interesting and engaging character. Keira Knightly (London Boulevard) is as charming as ever, and the rest of the cast, including Rory Kinnear (SPECTRE, Black Mirror), Charles Dance (Pride And Prejudice And Zombies), Tuppence Middleton (Jupiter Ascending), Allen Leech, Matthew Goode and Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) do a pretty good job of supporting the central role.
All of the negatives around factual accuracy aside, you can’t take too much away from the impact that The Imitation Game has and if anything it’s all the more moving watching it from the comfort of your home on DVD. It’s tough to see it being the kind of film we’d be inclined to watch more than once, but it is definitely worth watching if you like drama movies, historical biopics or cryptography in general.
The Imitation Game DVD review: 4/5