Monday, February 9, 2015

THE IMITATION GAME

Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley,
Matthew Goode, Charles Dance,
Mark Strong

"Unlock the Secret,
Win the War"


I was pressed for time as I wanted to watch all if not most of the films nominated for Best Picture of the Oscar Awards. "The Imitation Game" is one of the nominees in that prestigious category. 

Actually there are essentially two ongoing plots unfolding in this movie. There is the investigation of the police after a robbery occurred at the house of scientist Alan Turing. As he is in the custody of the police, he recounts through flashbacks the very important role he played during the second World War. 

During World War II, the Nazis had an early advantage with the help of "Enigma", the encrypting machine which enabled their military to communicate without worrying about the message being intercepted. In retaliation, Britain formed a special intelligence unit. A team comprised of mathematical experts and scientists were gathered and their mission was to crack the "Enigma" codes. The group of diverse characters experienced several setbacks, false starts as well as personality conflicts as they raced against time to decipher these coded messages.

This biopic is adapted from the novel "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges as a tribute to the unsung hero. Because despite the pivotal role he played during the War, he was never really recognized as a hero because of his homosexuality.

It is an averagely good story with enough tension and drama added to make it an interesting film. But it is the flawless acting of Benedict Cumberbatch which saves the day. His performance is by turns, awkward, triumphant and very heartbreaking. The poignant part comes after the war, when Turing was publicly humiliated for his sexuality. He was persecuted, arrested, convicted and even chemically castrated for being a member of the third sex. This embarrassment led the visionary to commit suicide just as he was on the brink of further developing his machine to what is presently known as the computer.

Although I read that there are historical inaccuracies in the film, it was also an eye opener. As it made us to be aware of the injustices that members of the third sex suffered during that period. I was shocked to learn that it was crime to be a member of the third sex in the UK until 1967. An act of Parliament known as Sexual Offences Act decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Imagine that was just 48 years ago.

It also made me sad that due to this discrimination, a genius like Alan Turing was not given due respect for his innovative invention. Hopefully, this movie in some small way would be a much delayed tribute to such an iconic figure.

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