A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
There are endless stories that have emerged from the war, each so powerful and significant in their own right. There are ones that are significant to an individual, a family, a community or even a nation.
Then come the legendary tales of heroism, sacrifice and accomplishment that have gone on to shape our very existence today.
The story of Alan Turing is one of those tales. An intellect, an academic, an inventor and a hero, Turing not only found a way to win the war without firing a single weapon, he went on to posthumously be known the world over, as ‘The gay man that saved the world’.
“The Imitation Game”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing is an insight into the man that he was, the war that was raging and the society in which he lived. It’s an incredible story that not many know of, myself included. After watching “The Imitation Game”, deep reflection and admiration are guaranteed to ensue.
Set during The Second World War, Alan Turing attempts to crack the German ‘Enigma’ code; an encrypted series of messages stating the exact time and location of forthcoming attacks. A code which not only resets itself daily, Enigma has 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 15 million,million,million) possible solutions within the 24 hour time periods.
An impossible task to complete manually, Turing attempts to invent a machine that is capable of decoding the messages at a significantly faster rate in order to save as many lives as he can. With help from a small group of about half a dozen fellow mathematicians, the group face countless challenges along the way, including impatience from Commander Denniston (played by Charles Dance).
The film is not only an espionage thriller, it focuses heavily on the societal constraints and struggles Turing must cope with on a daily basis in that he is a homosexual during a period where chemical castration was punishment for such a “crime”. There are also flashbacks which delve into Turing’s troubled childhood, as well as the events occurring after the war.
What works so well about the film is the ‘outside eye’ approach from Norwegian director Morten Tyldum, the multiple significant narratives at hand, the intertwined structure of the time periods and of course the superb performances from the entire cast. There was not one issue I had with the performances in “The Imitation Game” and it’s something of a rarity. Keira Knightley was particularly surprising!
The only issue would be a minor gripe about the quality of the CGI in some cutaway scenes. Apart from that minuscule distraction, the film is outstanding.
Tracking back to the performances however, it is very much Cumberbatch’s story and he of course shines as Turing. The character is so sympathetic and emotionally wrenching for an audience, but he doesn’t begin this way.
Turing starts off as a rather uncouth, fastidious fellow that you are unsure about. It’s after he grows as a character and you learn more about him as a person through the flashback/forward sequences and the multiple interactions with higher powers, that you see him for who he truly is.
The struggles and challenges of Turing throughout his entire life are tragic and heartbreaking, but “The Imitation Game” is more of a celebratory film. This man achieved the unfathomable and through the filmic storytelling, Turing can be recognised to a greater audience as a man that saved millions of lives and even invented the computer in the process.
I feel as though this is the best I’ve seen Cumberbatch in a long time, if not ever. He transforms himself into an enigmatic figure of his own, and truly gives a performance like no other.
Other notable performances include that of Mark Strong who plays the fascinating Stewart Menzies; a benevolent but stern authoritarian, whilst fellow mathematicians including Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander (the closest thing the film has to a ‘Bond-like’ character) and Alan Leech as John Cairncross are both excellent as they juggle the troublesome Turing and the blood-soaked calculus from hut number 8 night after night.
“The Imitation Game” is a powerful drama with endless amounts of passion and emotion to be unearthed. The story of Turing and the relationships he had throughout his incredible life are explored very well and the performances, structure and score of the film blend together superbly.
It’s amazing to see the amounts of factually based stories come out of the war, but there are few as incredible as Turing’s.
This is no doubt one of the best films of the year and the Pièce de résistance for Cumberbatch enthusiasts.