Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.
This is a phrase repeated through ÔÇÿThe Imitation GameÔÇÖ and it is certainly true of the filmÔÇÖs central character Alan Turing. A brilliant mathematician who worked for His MajestyÔÇÖs Government during WWII to crack Nazi naval codes encrypted by a formidable machine called ÔÇÿEnigmaÔÇÖ.
The book is based on real events ÔÇô there were indeed a bunch of nerds recruited by the British military at a place called Bletchley Park. Their efforts resulted in cracking Enigma and it is said that the vital information thus gleaned helped shorten the war by at least 2 years, saving 14 million lives.
Turing, played by Bernard Cumberbatch of ÔÇÿSherlock HolmesÔÇÖ fame does a fantastic job. He is arrogant, a misfit and yet you feel sympathy for his character. Keira Knightley plays the role of Joan Clarke, the only woman on the cryptography team and essays the part to perfection.
Apart from the historical importance of this story (much of it classified until recently), ÔÇÿThe Imitation GameÔÇÖ is really the story of one man and how his being ÔÇÿdifferentÔÇÖ made all the difference. While other cryptologists were working with conventional methods Turning realised that a machine can only be beaten by another machine. And thatÔÇÖs what he proposed to build.
In the film, this machine is dubbed ÔÇÿChristopherÔÇÖ, in the real world it came to be known as the ÔÇÿUniversal Turing MachineÔÇÖ. It forms the basis for the modern computer. So even a devastating war has its ÔÇÿpositiveÔÇÖ side effects!
The other aspect of TuringÔÇÖs life was his homosexuality. In the 1950s, being gay was a criminal offence in Great Britain. Turing was indicted for indecency and sentenced to ÔÇÿchemical castrationÔÇÖ. He died in 1954, at the age of 41, in what is suspected to be a suicide.
In one of the last scenes in the film Joan Clarke comforts her friend Turing with these words:
Do you know, this morning I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn’t for you. I read up, on my work, a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. Now, if you wish you could have been normal… I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren’t.
Thank you Alan Turing ÔÇô for being who you were. Go watch the film to clap for the man who went un-clapped for, in his own lifetime.
Rating; ┬á4 stars.