Featured Film: The Imitation Game

Paige Ellis, Staff Member

The Imitation Game is a historical thriller based on Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped crack Nazi codes including the Enigma code, a seemingly impossible task during the Second World War, and was later prosecuted for his homosexuality.

The film was as much of a puzzle as the code they were attempting to decipher, a brilliant move by screenwriter, Graham Moore, making a puzzle out of a movie about puzzle solving. From the very beginning, it has you filled with questions that aren’t answered until the very end, at which there is a moment of absolute clarity where all the loose ends are tied and it all falls into place, which is an absolutely ingenious cinematographic ending.

The film jumps from three different time periods: Turing’s childhood, during the war when he was solving Enigma, and what is present time in the film, all being told as a recollection in an interrogation room after charged due to his homosexual activity. The transitions from the three time periods were seamlessly tied together and each transition added a little more depth and sophistication to life of Alan Turing. From an artistic viewpoint, the choice of lightning and color in the different times of his life were in direct correlation to the stance of his mental and emotional wellbeing. In his early life he was accompanied by his friend Christopher and he was bright and adventurous, which was reflected in the use of vibrant colors, all of which were very warm and uplifting. During the war, where most of the story took place, the film was much less colorful but still not completely dull and desolate: Alan still had something to live for, his puzzle was his drive and passion. After the war is when he’s at his lowest; he had lost his only friend and was ousted as a homosexual, in turn eliminating the scientific drive from his life, forcing him to be a hermit and fall into a dark spiraling depression, resulting in the taking of his own life. The lighting reflected the event in its grey hue and cold impression on the world. It’s the contrast from war to post war the make it less of a war story and more of a journey through Turing’s life. If it was just about deciphering the Nazi code, it would be duller during the war and brighter after; the subtle difference brings the focus where the director wants it.

His childhood friend Christopher, who was his savior from relentless bullying and helped light the fire in Allan in regards to deciphering codes and decrypting messages was in turn his downfall. Cristopher died before Allan could confess his buried love for him, which left a hole in his heart that he incessantly tried to fill with bigger and more complex puzzles. They never directly mentioned anything about the connection between the machines named Christopher and his childhood love, but it can be concluded that there was such a connection, which is a subtle yet sophisticated touch on the film. It was one of many things that were slowly uncovered throughout the movie, defined by little hints and codes perfectly placed. If I were to re-watch the film, it would undoubtedly lose some of its charm, already knowing how the pieces all match up in the end, and in hindsight everything is so clear but the buildup and questioning is most of the appeal.

In one part of the film, Christopher states that “Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one imagines.” Christopher tells Turing this to give him the will to be great, then from Allan to Joan his college friend and pseudo fianc , to convince her to join his team, and finally from Joan to Allan to convince him that his life shouldn’t end because of the tragedies that he has endured. The quote is the invisible string that links the story together and develops and grows with Allan. .

Overall the film had so many layers and different aspects you could be taken away from it. It was well done artistically and a beautiful depiction and tribute to the life of one of the most uncredited influential people to modern technology.