The Imitation Game movie review

Nazi Germany was winning the war and the British people were literally starving to death as U-Boats sank convoys trying to carry  food to the United Kingdom. The greatest hope for victory was that the British would be able to crack the Nazi secret code and intercept their military messages.  The Imitation Game is the true account of the odd group of mathematicians and misfits brought in by British Intelligence to try to break the German code.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing with the computer he designed to decode Nazi messages

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing with the computer he designed to decode Nazi messages

The leader and oddest of all is is Alan Turing (perfectly played by Benedict Cumberbatch). He realized that traditional code breaking techniques would never work. The Germans used an Enigma Machine which has 159 million possibilities for code setting. In addition, the settings were changed every 24 hours. Turing decides that no human can compete  with this, and that he will need to develop his own machine to decode the messages. Today we would call this a computer, but in 1940 the concept seemed like something out of science fiction.

Kira Knightly as Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game

Kira Knightly as Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game

Keira Knightly plays Joan Clarke, who is even better at solving puzzles and math equations than Turing. At that time in history, however, women were not accepted as mathematicians and the military people want her to be in the secretary pool. But Turing does not think like most people, and he immediately finds a kindred spirit in Joan and has her join his team.

The title The Imitation Game is a double or even triple entente. Turing was one of the first people to theorize that in the future machines would be able to think and become self-aware. He developed the Turing Test to determine if a machine was actually thinking, or just imitating someone thinking.

Kira Knightly, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch

Kira Knightly, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch

The second imitation has to do with the fact that Alan Turning himself was imitating being a “normal” person. He was a homosexual, which was illegal at that time and could even get a person sent to prison.  In fact, the movie begins after the war when Alan Turning has been arrested for allegedly consorting with a male prostitute.

The third imitation has to do with what happens if the group is successful at breaking the German code. They realize that to keep the Germans from changing the code, they would have to imitate that the information was coming from somewhere else.

During World War II there were secrets withing secrets withing secrets. Puzzles were not games for fun. They were crucial weapons of war needed to keep thousands of people from dying.

The Imitation Game is an excellent movie, and the characters come across as real people in times of unimaginable stress.

 

 

 

 

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