Monday, January 19, 2015

"Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine." - Joan in The Imitation Game

As a technologist, I often wonder about the value of something I work on. How can I measure it? Alan Turing had no such questions - he saved 14 million lives and ended a war two years sooner than it would otherwise have, with a brilliant mathematical invention, which we know today as ‘computers’.

'The Imitation Game' might be the story of World War II but it is no 'Schindler's List'. War forms the backdrop of the story of a man who is socially awkward but wants to solve an unsolvable puzzle. This is portrayed in a scene early on when Alan Turing(Benedict Cumberbatch) goes to the army headquarters not because he likes politics but because  'Enigma is the most difficult problem in the world'. 

Alan's strategy is to build a machine that can be programmable and reprogrammable to break  'Over one hundred and fifty million million million possible settings' that would take millions of years to decode manually. With the help of a team of code-breakers, researchers, mathematicians, Turing embarks on a journey to build this machine. This includes crossword wizard, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), who befriends Alan and helps him interact with his team-members. Turing now has a hundred thousand British pounds to make or break the war. 

The most dramatic scenes are from Turing's childhood. In 1927, Turing is a nervous teenager who is bullied by his buddies because of his social awkwardness until Christopher rescues him. It is Christopher who introduces Alan to a book on cryptography. As Turing gets engrossed in the world of codes and cyphers, he realizes his true feelings for his friend. 

The casting choice of Cumberbatch is apt. He portrays the over-confidence of Turing very differently from Sherlock . As Sherlock, he is cocky, defiant and arrogant. As Turing, Cumberbatch has a total transformation - naive, ignorant of social dogma, he portrays at once a mathematical genius as well as an innocent victim, with aplomb. Whether he is scribbling on his notepad or sipping beer, the quirks and nuances he brings to this character are truly remarkable. It did remind me a little of Russell Crowe in 'A Beautiful Mind'. 

The tension of Turing breaking the Enigma is followed by his downfall after the authorities find out about this homosexuality. He accepts hormonal therapy to imprisonment for 'gross indecency' and slowly resigns himself to suicide. 

"The Imitation Game" manages to not just be a thriller but a historic biopic that educates the viewers of the compelling story of Alan Turing. Sixty years after his death, the Queen of England has pardoned Turing and condemned his punishment in 1950s as unjust. Alan Turing totally deserves the universal recognition that this movie has brought to the world. 

This is #Day1 of #YourTurnChallenge. During this 7 day challenge,I would be blogging about one Oscar nominated movie per day.

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