2015 was a year seemingly driven by some of the most commending biopics we have seen in years: From Eddie Redmayne’s brilliant portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything; to Reese Witherspoon’s raw role as Cheryl Strayed in Wild; to Bradley Cooper as the acclaimed “Legend” Chris Kyle in American Sniper; we were graced with a rawness of simplicity and humanity that film has lacked in recent years. However, perhaps the most powerful and visually striking of them all was Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as mathematical mastermind Alan Turing in the Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game.
Turing, a profoundly misunderstood mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst as well as groundbreaking computer scientist is the true father of much of modern technology and artificial intelligence. Infamously condemned for his homosexuality, much of his genius has gone under appreciated until as of recent.
The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum, illustrates Turing’s tumultuous journey in an attempt to break an unbreakable Nazi code. Known as Enigma, an enciphering machine, the project was undertaken at Bletchley Park, Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School, in 1940. Turing and his team participated in a race against time to beat the Germans at their own supposedly unbreakable game.
The film depicts Turing’s struggles with his own sexuality in a time where being gay was simply unacceptable. Throughout the film we are shown flashbacks of Alan’s days at boarding school and the discovery of his first love in a boy named Christopher. This storyline is the true backbone of the movie as it is something that still affects Alan greatly throughout the film.
Alan finds one of his closest friends and allies in fellow cryptanalyst, Joan Clark, who is portrayed by Keira Knightley. Joan’s role as his friend as well as biggest fan are part of what keeps Alan sane in the reclusive, solitary state that he lives in. Despite Alan’s contemptuous and often uncivil temperament, The Imitation Game leaves you with a newfound appreciation for the genius that he was.
The importance in The Imitation Game lies in the understated nature that was the magnitude of what they were doing at Bletchley Park. Alan and his team made a significant contribution to World War II that can maybe not compare to the glory of being in combat but was equally as consequential in its efforts to win the war.
The film is a beautifully crafted visual depiction of the often romanticized World World War II era. It is real, raw and laced with provoking ballads scored by famed composer Alexandre Desplat. The brilliance that Game portrays is something only able to comprehend if you experience it firsthand.
Something I typically find with period dramas is that my generation is often quick to dismiss them. We are easily stultified by the unglamorous; the instances where life isn’t depicted in the most alluring of ways. The Imitation Game fails to bore and instead intrigues those who would typically not bother. I highly recommend this film, as it will likely take home many accolades this award season.