The Imitation Game” is surprisingly watchable.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game.

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch in The Imi­ta­tion Game.

Per­son­al­ly speak­ing, the prospect of watch­ing yet anoth­er cos­tume dra­ma with all of those actors who are in all of the oth­er peri­od pieces is about as appeal­ing as an extra Maths grind on a balmy summer’s eve. But The Imi­ta­tion Game is sur­pris­ing­ly watchable .

Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch is Alan Tur­ing, and Tur­ing was, gen­uine­ly, one of the most remark­able indi­vid­u­als of the 20th cen­tu­ry. If you’re unfa­mil­iar with his sto­ry, and you very well might be as it’s only very recent­ly been unearthed, then I’ll not give too much away here. As all the best sto­ries do, the dra­ma of his life unfold­ed in both the pub­lic and in the pri­vate spheres.

In the pub­lic sphere, Tur­ing was head hunt­ed by the top secret wing of the then “non exis­tent” MI6 as they des­per­ate­ly tried to unpick the enig­ma code. This was the code that the Ger­mans used to dis­guise their dai­ly broad­casts of where their troops were and what they were up to. It had over 159 quin­til­lion – that’s 159 fol­lowed by 18 zeros – dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions that were changed every day. Tur­ing almost sin­gle hand­ed­ly cracked it, and you could make a very strong case for sug­gest­ing that his was the most impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the whole of the sec­ond World War.

Kiera Knightley together with Cumberbatch.

Keira Knight­ley togeth­er with Cumberbatch.

In the per­son­al sphere, he was demon­stra­bly autis­tic which inevitably leads to albeit unin­tend­ed offense. As there’s always the sus­pi­cion that your obnox­ious behav­iour might very well be just that, mere­ly obnox­ious and have noth­ing to do with your autism. And, he was also gay.

Which is all well and good when you are attend­ing the sort of male only pub­lic school that the British send their elite to. But which becomes an enor­mous prob­lem when that same soci­ety then con­demns and indeed crim­i­nalis­es those boys who grow up to be young men who pre­fer the com­pa­ny of oth­er young men.

La Knightley.

La Knight­ley.

Cum­ber­batch is appeal­ing­ly prick­ly as the iras­ci­ble bof­fin, and Keira Knight­ley is as ever much bet­ter than any­body ever likes to give her cred­it for. And yes, obvi­ous­ly math­e­mati­cians don’t look like that. But do you real­ly want to go to the cin­e­ma and watch a film peo­pled by char­ac­ters who look real­is­ti­cal­ly like math­e­mati­cians and code breakers?

The Imi­ta­tion Game is an unashamed love let­ter to Alan Tur­ing. But if ever an indi­vid­ual deserved one, it is sure­ly he. What­ev­er device you’re read­ing this on wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble were it not for Tur­ing. If any one per­son can be, Tur­ing can gen­uine­ly be cred­it­ed with hav­ing per­son­al­ly invent­ed the com­put­er. His con­tri­bu­tion to the world, in war and peace, is immense. And it’s only right that the soci­ety that so cal­lous­ly con­demned him in his life should belat­ed­ly cel­e­brate him in death. And the result­ing film is sur­pris­ing­ly mov­ing and appro­pri­ate­ly stirring.

You can see The Imi­ta­tion Game’s trail­er here. And this review also appears on here which obvi­ous­ly you should all be read­ing as avid­ly as you do this.

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