The Imitation Game is a movie with two stories. On one hand, there is the story of World War II and the urgent need to crack the German Enigma code. Here, we arrive at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing, where the British Government has hired a team to work tirelessly to crack the code, mixed with the speculation about Soviet spies. Then, there is the story of Turing himself. At the young age of 26, he is already a Cambridge Fellow and one of the best mathematicians in the world. But he has a secret: he is homosexual during a period in the UK when such a lifestyle was illegal. We flash between three periods in his life: his time at boarding school, where he meets a boy named Christopher; his time at Bletchley inventing his machine to crack the Enigma code, which he also names Christopher; and his life after World War II once he has been convicted of gross indecency because his homosexuality is discovered.
As a story that was not even publicly known until the 1990s, it is fascinating to learn about such an influential and, for a long time, unappreciated man in British and world history. For fifty years, the discoveries made and work done at Bletchley were kept classified, so it was not until after Turing’s death that his name could be added to the history books.
Perhaps few actors could have portrayed Turing as compellingly as Benedict Cumberbatch does. Turing was not a man who could easily relate to others. He understood things very literally, so the subtleties of human interaction and communication did not always register with him. With this quality, it can be difficult to make such a character relatable so that the audience sympathizes. However, Cumberbatch pulls this off, portraying a charming and good-hearted man whose goal is to save lives by shortening the war. Seeing him achieve that and then experience a sudden downfall just after the war is heartbreaking. As a man whose inventions led to modern computers, who saved millions of lives in the War and who had such good intentions throughout, it is hard to see what became of him.
As Joan Clarke, Keira Knightley is charming and warm as one of the first people to connect with Turing. She shows up to the evaluation when they are looking for new team members at Bletchley and Turing is the one who steps in to allow her to stay when she is turned away at the door for being a woman. This moment leads to a friendship that leads to an engagement to allow her to stay with the code breakers. She is extremely clever, but also helps Turing to connect with the rest of his team. She is the reason they end up standing behind Turing when his work is put into question by the government leaders at Bletchley. Clarke also visits Turing later in life when he is struggling and tells him the impact of his work.
As a lesser-known and interesting part of recent history, there is already a reason to see this movie. In addition to that, the acting truly brings the story to life. The film does justice to a story that deserves to be told – that is both historical and relevant to current issues.