‘Sometimes it’s the people that no one imagines anything from, who do the things no one can imagine’. This outstanding quote is from the 2014 World War Two set film ‘The Imitation Game’. Directed by Morten Tyldum, and staring its leads ‘Keira Knightly’ and ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ it is in my view, a great film for giving an honest view towards ‘Alan Turning’.
When I was younger, I was fascinated with the idea of ‘Bletchley Park’ which was where a group of young bright people broke the German Enigma machine during the war, arguably cutting short the duration of the war by two years. The Imitation Game does ‘Alan Turning’ and his team justice, it doesn’t just tell their story, it explains it. It dives into the gritty reality of working in such high command, and it focuses on the aftermath of the war, when many of the workers at Bletchley Park were sent home with orders to never speak about where they had been for the duration of the war until the 1970’s when it became declassified. There’s a certain excitement that comes from watching this film, you feel proud of your country for what it achieved. I can put this down to a certain element of the film, the acting is exceedingly good, and ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ absolutely nailed playing ‘Alan Turning’. One of the last scenes in the film, with Keira Knightly and Benedict Cumberbatch, involved improvised acting. This scene is probably what won them both an Oscar nomination, the acting is so believable, without giving too much away, you feel incredibly sad for ‘Alan Turning’ and if a film has strong acting, you as the audience will always be able to feel connected to the film. Likewise to other contributing characters of the film, the team that work with ‘Alan Turning’ are all strong actors and many of them aren’t well known actors. In fact two of them are hailed from the TV set of Downton Abbey, ‘Mathew Goode’ and ‘Allen Leech’ portray characters that the audience can establish with a period setting, and follow from their previous work in relation to more. similar to Keira Knightly who always seems to appear in period set work, such as ‘Pride and Predijuce’ (2005) and other World War Two set films like ‘Atonement’ (2007).
The Imitation Game received mixed critical reviews. It was given a 3.5/5 by renowned critic website ‘Robert Edger’ and ‘Empire’ magazine’s resident writer ‘Dan Jolin’ gave it a strong 4/5 stars, quoting ‘Moore’s opening line, spoken by Cumberbatch, is, “Are you paying attention?” After a few minutes you’ll realise it’s virtually impossible not to.’ I completely agree with Empires view towards the film, after them first spoken words at the start, it is a dangerously hard opening not to be hooked on.
The film archives so much in terms of its cinematography and wonderful sets. The cinematographer for the film was ‘Óscar Faura’ he isn’t well known, but has worked on several blockbusters, one of them being the 2012 action film ‘The Impossible’. His work in The Imitation Game aims to create an almost dark and dingy look with the evident background of the Second World War behind the odd ‘glamour’ that you feel Bletchley Park has. Likewise to the settings, a great deal of it was filmed on location at Bletchley Park, which is just outside Milton Keynes. I’ve grown up going to Bletchley Park and there was a few years ago, an exhibition on The Imitation Game, it showed of a set from a pub scene in the film. It was a fascinating insight into the Mise En Scene of the production, which showed a replica Enigma machine and the attention to detail the replica ‘Christopher’ machine had. Moreover many of the shots in the film are long, supposedly this shows how long it took the team to break Enigma, until the film becomes rapid and fast with their work beginning show. That’s what I like about this film, the shots represent a great deal of what is on screen, and there is a fantastic tracking crane shot of ‘Alan’ running through the grounds of the park with signify the turning point in the film.
(above, code breakers, 1944)
I know I’ve said it in previous reviews, but a cinematic score is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a film, and The Imitation Game certainly doesn’t disappoint. The score was written by ‘Alexandre Desplat’ and composed in a surprisingly electrical way. Desplat has scored films from the likes of ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and has continually been critical acclaimed for his work, and the score for The Imitation Game works by subtlety aiding the content on screen, and providing a tense sound with the use of flutes juxtaposing low wind instruments.
Overall, this film is in my view, a poignant and exciting thriller, its historical factors are great at telling ‘Alan Turning’s’ story, and for a story, and person so well known, that can be hard to achieve. There are parts that make you question the context and it lacks by skimming over key facts and events that happened during the time of the film, but a war lasting six years, cannot easily be fitted into two hours. I think The Imitation game succeeds in every way a period film can. Alan Turning is arguably one of the biggest factors towards why Germany didn’t win World War Two, yet after the war in 1952, he was convicted of ‘indecency’ and offered a jail sentence or hormonal treatment, taking the later for two years, he was found dead in 1954 in his home. This was after taking a Cyanide, from an apple (though hard to confirm). The legacy that he left, has led to apple creating their logo after him, thousands of books and films. The Imitation Game shows him in a wonderful perspective, I think it’s one of the only sources from media that show him in a somewhat honest light. After all his work in the war, and the way he was treated after it, Alan Turning was only pardoned on the 24th of December 2013, by the Queen. The Imitation Game paints him in a way that suggests he was treated wrong, because he was. It’s an incredible film that fills you with joy and sorrow all at the same time, a lot of films fail to do this without being corny or fluffy. The Imitation Game fully succeeds in telling the story of Alan Turning, and if by any chance you have the option to go to Bletchley Park, I completely recommend it. Without it, we might not be where we are today.