The Imitation Game (2014): Behind Every Code is an Enigma

Posted: February 5, 2015 in Biography, Drama, Thriller
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Story: During the Second World War, Britain is faced with insurmountable odds as the Nazis continue to terrorize the European front. Discovering that enigma is how the enemy manages their communications, the British navy and MI6 recruit a team of mathematicians and engineers to decipher the code each day and attempt to uncover the details of the coded messages. Alan Turing, an overly-confident mathematician, struggles to work with the team, but he also has a vision of how he can construct a machine to help decipher enigma faster than rooms full of decoders. With MI6 growing impatient with the amount of money and time spent on their project, Alan and his team start to feel the pressure to succeed.

ActingThe Imitation Game boasts the excellent talent of Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing), Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke), and Mark Strong (Stewart Menzies). Cumberbatch is clearly the focus, as his character breaks open his seemingly one-dimensional persona into a complicated conflict of truth and struggle with identity. Driven by an inability to fail, Cumberbatch is able to show the benefits and challenges of living such a demanding lifestyle. Knightley helps to balance his character development and contribute to Alan Turing’s struggle with social identity. In general, strong, definitive performances help to add to the drama of this war-based race against the clock.

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Review: While most war movies put the viewer directly into the battle, this one was more cerebral and behind the scenes. While the challenge of solving enigma seemed more like the frustration of solving a difficult puzzle, the film continued to remind the audience that people were dying from the team’s failure to solve enigma more quickly. Even after solving the challenge, the consequences of unveiling their accomplishment could have been dire toward ending the war with lesser incident. Throughout the process of building the machine and attempting to find a way to break the code, the team struggled to commit and find unity in their mission, but it was the eventual recognition of their opportunity that allowed them to succeed.

For Alan, his sexuality was something that was kept in the dark throughout the enigma program. Knowing that it was illegal to be gay, he mostly kept to himself and focused on his work. Finding an interest in the surprising Joan and her intellect, he was smitten but not fully in love with her. To keep up appearances, he married her and continued to hide the truth. It was not until he feared for her safety that he find opened up to her, but she actually had suspected all along and was comfortable maintaining their relationship on other qualities of companionship. The eventual loss of this relationship led to his downfall, as he was adjudicated for his discovered homosexuality and eventually committed suicide in 1954.

It was proven that the team’s success with solving enigma saved over 14 million lives, really giving more credence to this story. Strong performances and compelling human politics make this an intriguing angle to view the intensity of World War II.

Dan’s Performance: 4.0/5

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