The Imitation Game is a 2014 blockbuster film telling the story of Bletchley Park’s code-breaking team, which was charged with cracking the “unbreakable” German code Enigma, during WWII. It follows the efforts of Alan Turing and co, as well as telling us of Alan’s heartbreaking personal story, from childhood to his death in 1951.
Alan Turing and his team solved the Enigma Code, and it is estimated that their doing so ended the war two years earlier and saved 14 million lives. That fact that the Enigma Code was broken remained a state secret for 50 years.
If this had not been a historical film, I would have said that the writers needed to go back to the drawing board. Despite not knowing much about this topic, I was able to foretell many aspects of the plot, including Christopher’s fate, the identity of the Soviet spy and “the sacrifice”.
Clearly, this film is based on historical fact though and somehow, that makes it all forgiven. At the base of it, this wasn’t a spy thriller; being able to see the outcome did not ruin the movie. It was a dramatic retelling of some of England’s best – and worst – moments in the 1940s and 50s.
One thing that struck me throughout the film, was how different things were then, from now. A 25 year old woman was almost barred from being a member of the team, based upon her gender, and then further prevented from joining because of her parents’ objections. It was indecent for her to work on a project with five men, and to work for the war effort instead of hunting for a suitable husband. Likewise, I had no idea that in the 1950s, homosexuality in Great Britain was punishable by custodial sentence or chemical castration.
I had wanted to watch The Imitation Game when it was released last year but I never got around to it. I have always been interested in history, and took multiple classes in secondary school and uni, but somehow missed ever learning about Turing or the Enigma Code. The Eric Walters book, Enigma, which I just read about was also based on war efforts occurring a Bletchley Park, so it was an interesting parallel to finish both this weekend. I definitely want to go and learn more.
The movie was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture of the Year, and ultimately won for Best Writing (adapted screenplay). Not surprising, considering it starred fantastic fan-favourite actors including Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Charles Dance.
It was a remarkable film that I am so thankful I made the time to watch this weekend. I highly recommend it.
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