imiationgamePlaying God

The Imitation Game

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Matthew Beard, Allen Leech and Roy Kinnear
Director: Morten Tyldum
Scriptwriter: Graham Moore
Cinematography: Oscar Faura
Composer: Alexandre Desplat
Company: Weinstein
Rating: R for themed material
Running Length: 113 Minutes

Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be everywhere these days. From Sherlock Holmes on PBS, to voicing Smaug the dragon in two of the “Hobbit” films, a villain in the last “Star Trek” film, and now playing WWII’s Alan Turing, the genius who put together the first computer to decipher a Nazi code machine. Cumberbatch gives a quality performance, also, in this film. His facial expressions and body language, show us the man pretending to be someone else with great effort. 


“The Imitation Game,” which in this film has a double meaning, begins with Germany’s Enigma machine that produces an unbreakable code for war information. If only the Allies could break this code and figure out where the Germans were going next.  Enter the British government and their selection of near-genius mathematician Alan Turing as their person to figure this out. Opposing Turing is Charles Dance as the head of British Intelligence who thinks that Turing’s idea to build their own machine to break the code (essentially the first computer) is nuts. Turing gets support from Churchill himself, selects his team (Kiera Knightley, and Matthew Goode from “Downton Abbey” among others), and away they go. Trial and error, trial and error and years pass. They are about to lose their funding and Dance is hateful, when there is a break-through. Enigma is no longer a mystery, but the group’s secret must be kept to avoid the Germans knowing.


Besides building the machine are side stories, such as blackmail and Kiera’s falling for the shy Turing and they becoming a couple. Kiera, as Joan Clarke, is forward at this time, being the only female math person in the Turing group, and not afraid to give her opinion. She is as smart as, or smarter, than most of Turing’s team. There are many oppositions here, from the German government to someone at the program to the top brass overseeing the program. Alan Turing, himself, is a hidden homosexual and lives in fear. Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a man with this secret is exceptional. Who to trust and what to do? Some of this internal conflict is told through flashbacks from Turing’s youth at a private school and you can see the loneliness of someone whom society deems “different.”


Along with the story is Oscar Faura’s cinematography with beautiful vistas of trees and England, and then into a building where a machine is the creation everyone stares at, The soundtrack, by Alexandre Desplat is equally effective, as it is in another film opening during the holiday season, Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken.”


As far as acting is concerned, Oscar nominations can be aplenty this year, from Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”  to Jack O’Connell in “Unbroken,” to Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” to Michael Keaton in “Birdman” to Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” to Tommy Lee Jones in “The Homesman.” A wealth of talent. 


The idea of building a machine to interpret another machine was earth-shattering in the mid-1940’s. Akin to putting a man on the moon and look what happened there. Turing’s Machine (as it was first called) filled most of an old building with wheels turning, chains moving and electricity unreliable. When you look at your iPad today, remember what went before it so you can have convenience. What went before, won a War.



Copyright 2014 Marie Asner