Benedict Cumberbatch’s powerful performance pays well-deserved respect to war hero Alan Turing
Based on the biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game charts the efforts of a team of World War Two code-breakers, led by Turing, as they race to break the German Enigma code and help the Allies to success. The film also focuses on Turing’s life post-war, during which he was criminally prosecuted for being gay.
The film marks Norwegian director Morten Tyldum’s first foray into English-language cinema for which he has assembled an excellent cast alongside Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Star Trek Into Darkness), with Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) putting in a strong performance as Turing’s close friend and one-time fiancée Joan Clarke. Matthew Goode (Watchmen, Belle) charms as fellow cryptographer Hugh Alexander, with Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Zero Dark Thirty) playing the shadowy Major General Stewart Menzies, Head of MI6.
Rather than focusing solely on his successes during the war, the film also explores key stages of Turing’s life. Alex Lawther plays the socially awkward but highly intelligent young Turing as he struggles to adapt to the surroundings of his all-boys boarding school, bullied and trying to deal with his developing feelings for a fellow classmate.
Alan Turing was a brilliant and truly gifted mathematician whose work enabled the British to crack intercepted German military messages and win several key battles which led to the Allies winning World War Two. It is estimated that without Turing’s work, the war could have lasted for at least another two years, with the further loss of millions of lives. However this was not the legacy remembered until recent years, Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts, something which was a criminal offence in England up until 1967. Given the option of two years in prison or ‘treatment’ for his homosexuality in the form of chemical castration, Turing chose the latter, and two years later took his own life. It was not until 2009, that the then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British Government for the way in which Turing was treated, followed by a posthumous pardon from the Queen in 2013.
The film’s release, of which the LGBT rights issues are just as relevant today, coincides with the opening of the Outburst Arts Festival currently being held in Belfast, which celebrates LGBT art and performance. More information on the festival can be found at www.outburstarts.com
Director: Morten Tyldum
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Genre: Historical Drama
Running Time: 114 minutes