November 27, 2016

The Imitation Game

Morten Tyldem, 2014
Just when you think that maybe the World War II period drama can't be approached differently on film, you see a movie like the Imitation Game come along. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as tortured genius Alan Turing, the film focuses on his attempt to crack the Enigma code - the encryption language used by the German forces for all war communications. The British feel that if they can decrypt the code, they could win the war by anticipating all battle plans. Tyldem interestingly depicts Turing at three different stages of his life. So the story of Turing is told without linear narrative. It examines Turing in middle school at a British prep school. During this time he is bullied by his peers and is a social outcast. He has a very intimate friendship with his one friend whom shares the skill of cryptography, allowing them to secretly communicate with each other. It shows Turing in the main plot thread, when he working with a team of highly intelligent peers trying to crack the code. The third period is later in Turing's life - 1951 to be exact when a suspicious police officer starts to dig after discovering Turing's military records have been completely destroyed.

Those hoping to get recieve a history lesson with this film will be disappointed and not well serviced. There is an ample amount of artistic licence used with the Enigma story. In fact, only 41% of the story is actually factual as charted in detail on Information is Beautiful. If you can get past that, this is a surprisingly exceptional film. There is such a remarkable balance and pacing. The way that they depict Turing is as a distant, cold, arrogant genius that appears to be on the spectrum. Not exactly the hero that is easy to get behind. But by using his tortured childhood, along with the fact that he is forced to remain a closeted homosexual in his adult life - you are forced to feel sympathy for him. It's upsetting to be reminded of how horribly ostracized someone could be simply for their sexual orientation back then. Imitation keeps you in it's grip the entire length of the film. Of course you know how the war turns out, and you can make some assumptions as to how the film will play out in terms of their success in decipehring the code. But it's the execution of it all that makes it so excellent. The commanding officers breathing down their neck creates the ticking clock that maintains tension. The consistently rising death toll from the Hitler regime as he blasts his way through Western Europe raises the stakes to an ultimate high. And you just sit there on the edge of your seat waiting for a breakthrough. 

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