After all the column inches that have been written about ‘The Imitation Game’, I would not presume to be able to add anything especially enlightening to the dialogue. This is, as everyone has said and the 8 Oscar Nominations confirm, a stunning film.
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a brilliant mathematician, portrayed in the film as being on the autistic spectrum, although this interpretation is apparently an inaccurate representation of his character. Turing was a loner at school, bullied by his peers. Flashbacks reveal this aspect of his childhood, together with his infatuation with another boy, Christopher Morcom. Within the context of the film, it is this first love which introduces the fact of Turing’s homosexuality. Turing combined mathematical genius with studies on cryptology and in 1938 began work at Bletchley Park, attempting to de-code messages enciphered by the enemy using Enigma machines. That Turing and his team succeeded makes for compelling viewing in a cinema; that they actually broke the Enigma codes in real life is nothing short of remarkable. However, ‘The Imitation Game’ does not concentrate solely upon Turing’s professional and academic genius; it also paints a sensitive picture of his relationship with fellow code-breaker Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), as well as examining the stigma and vulnerability of a gay man at a time when homosexuality itself was illegal.
I don’t think I have ever been as shocked by the ending of a film as I was at the close of ‘The Imitation Game’, when a short written paragraph explained what happened to Alan Turing after the imposition of chemical castration following his prosecution in 1952 for homosexual acts. I was gobsmacked, expecting a reminder of his Knighthood and receipt of a Nobel Prize. The truth, as many probably know (but I didn’t), is rather different.
Of course Keira Knightley drove me mad with her hideous over-bite and unconvincing accent, but even she fails to eclipse the brilliance of Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Alan Turing. Whilst I was rooting for Eddie to win the Best Actor prize for ‘The Theory of Everything’, I can’t help thinking that in any other year, Cumberbatch would have been holding the golden knight.