What does science have to do with war? Mathematics are nothing compared to human sorrow and pain. Humanity’s mistakes and historical victories could be related to politics rather than being attributed to scientists. Think again! Morten Tyldum’s Imitation Game is retranscribing Alan Turing’s scientific achievements during the Second World War. Inspired by Andrew Hodges’s biography Alan Turing: the Enigma, this full-length feature film interrogates the founding principles of a democracy.
Enrolled in a British top secret mission destined to decipher a Nazi’s machine – Enigma – helping the enemies sending messages amongst themselves, Alan Turing devotes his life to this impossible, yet purely scientific experience. Pictured as the crazy scientist type, Turing the lonely wolf ends up discovering the mechanism, giving the Allies’ strategy the opportunity to be one step ahead of them.
Captivating in the role of an asocial specialist, Benedict Cumberbatch overflows with charisma and emotional coldness. The paradoxical beauty of this actor relies on his ability to maintain the theatrical tension while getting heart to heart with the spectator.
Being oppressed by the genius’s burden, the expert is finally confronted to the ultimate comparison with God: one of the strongest scenes depicts Turing’s team in the position to choose which one of the information is going to get public. The youngest man in the group is a powerless witness of his own brother’s death penalty, a choice made by the team in order to remove any doubt about their plan. Deeply tortured by the Atlas syndrome –who wasn’t able to carry the mythological world on his shoulders- Turing and his so called expendable gift are to be placed amongst collateral damages of the Allies’ victory.
Although Cumberbatch is creating a brilliant character from scratch, the harsh reality of the World War II’s daily battles is surprisingly and totally absent from Tyldum’s movie. Is it understandable that the initial goal was not about seeing blood or having a tear in one’s eye, however there are parts missing from Turing’ personal universe and original sketches.
The ending tragedy of Alan Turing’s life rests on this sentence of castration pronounced by the very own society he saved from Hitler’s victory. While not being the main subject of the movie, the protagonist’s homosexuality prevents him from being happy in a historical time where tolerance is at its lowest ebb. A shattering performance of an identity’s deconstruction is being exposed among the last scenes opposing Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
The Imitation Game (2014), Morten Tyldum.