Imitation game is the biographical film about Alan Turing and his involvement in the British intelligence during world war II. Now before I spill anything more, my advice is to watch this film with a clear mind in order to enjoy it better as it worked in my case. So I am not revealing anything too much here.
The imitation game is shot in typical British film-making style with fast pacing and light texture. The film has a peculiar flashback within flashback structure that matches the emotions or the circumstances depicted. We see Alan Turing’s (Benedict Cumberbatch, young Alan Turing played by Alex Lawther) past, present, and future in pieces that leads to a particular conclusion. The past shows school days with his best friend Christopher Morcom (Jack Bannon), the present covers his days during the world war II where he and his colleagues are trying to break German ‘enigma code’ in Bletchley park under Commander Dennigston (Charles Dance). Enigma is the machine used for communication by the Germans where every surprise attack and details are revealed.Every day the machine’s settings are changed and Alan volunteers for this impossible task of breaking the Enigma code. The future shows Detective Nock’s (Rory Kinnear) investigation about Alan as he suspects him of “hiding something”. The film as such is predictable and has no great suspense, it is all about the world war II and Alan Turing’s legacy that you have probably learned in your history lessons. But to me, as someone who was not aware of his legacy, each plot detail came up like a surprise, whether it is about the working of the Enigma, the machine Alan was trying to invent in order to break the Enigma, secret behind his identity (personal identity) and Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) who was the only woman in the team.
It begins with the line “Are you paying attention?“; it had my attention till the very end, it is definitely one of the best films of 2014 and also the best biopic film since a beautiful mind, inspite of having many historical inaccuracies. I was so moved that it remained with me for many days after watching. I couldn’t help but think about this film and the message it conveys. The direction by Morten Tyldum is stupendous and it is well executed from a poignant screenplay by Graham Moore, who took his time, liberty and patience to turn his imagination into an admirable result. I was moved by several scenes, like the one where Alan’s colleagues stood up for him when he was almost fired by commander Denniston, the scene where they finally crack the enigma code, the haunting scene where Alan and Joan reunited after many years and the epilogue that narrates Alan Turing’s legacy. However there’s a plotline that is left unfinished; Dennigston’s further involvement is not shown as he hated Alan and was looking forward to fire him.
Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant beyond words. Before this, I watched Star Trek into the darkness where his performance as the antagonist is quiet imposing, with his deep masculine voice, expressive eyes and intimidating gestures. The positive reviews, accolades and Cumberbatch’s presence drew my curiosity to this film. The movie belongs to him as he embodied Alan Turing with his passionate acting whether it is in his stuttering speech, expressions and gestures. We feel sorry for him, we empathize with his ideas and laugh at his dry sense of humor. Keira Knightley never disappointed with her performance, from her small appearance in love actually to her breakout performance in pride and prejudice. She didn’t have much to do in terms of emotional moments but her presence is worth mentioning. Joan Clarke deserves recognition for being the best among the cryptographers and the discrimination she faced as a woman, i.e. getting low wages compared to her male counterparts etc. The problem with Keira’s appearance is the fact that she looked too glamorous; Joan Clarke is described as someone who is rather plain with specs. Even though the movie is about Alan Turing, Moore’s screenplay also gave birth to four other interesting characters; Cairncross (Allen Leech), Detective Nock, Major Gen Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) and Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode). Cairncross is someone who is caring and threatening at the same time and Allen Leech is lively in his portrayal. Matthew Goode delivered a standout performance as the coolest or the most aggressive and dedicated among the code breakers. His moments with Alan Turing are worth mentioning, especially the scene where he supports Alan when Dennigston threatenes to fire him. Detective Nock is the man who provided scope for Alan Turing’s ultimate arrest. The future part takes place in his point of view, his curiosity and investigation about the ‘secret’ of Turing’s made a huge turn at the end and Alan’s personal life and dignity is scarred, we see the guilt in Nock’s eyes at the end when he reads about Alan’s prosecution, one of the best moments in this film. Mark Strong, after his standout performances in body of lies, Sherlock Holmes and tinker tailor soldier spy, brought in his intense aura of suave control.
Alexander Desplat deserves the glass of champagne for the haunting scores. The main theme sounds exactly like a machine with clicks, describing the working of Alan’s mind. The combination of cinematography and editing is noteworthy giving the texture of the 1920s, 1940s and 1950s each. The camera captures everything essential and depicts the emotion or tension portrayed on screen with tranquillity.
The facts and incidents surrounding Hitler’s rule, fascism, holocaust, and world war II were both disturbing and fascinating at the same time. While the imitation game does not show the aftermath of Hitler’s fascism in a brutal sense like in Schindler’s list or Sophie choice; he is just referred to as ‘a chap who is 400 miles away’. And I want to confess, I just wished I paid more attention during the history classes because I knew nothing about Alan Turing before I watched this film. I didn’t know anything about what the British government did to win the war within a time period that was lesser than expected. After watching this film, I went on to do research, read more about Alan Turing, Joan Clarke, world war II, and the enigma machine; also viewed the cast and crew’s interviews about the making of this film where every single plot line (including the ending) was revealed by them, finally my thoughts were “Is this your idea of promoting a film?“. But it is no surprise for many as Turing’s work and world war II is there in almost every history textbook; when the files about the Enigma was declassified, Turing’s life and his conviction was also revealed in them. Overall, the film is about a human rights issue that is still under scrutiny and debate in many countries across the globe for generations. The depiction of that very issue in this film will make you think about it in every way because many innocent men and women have suffered due to social aversion and lack of security.