The Imitation Game

January 14, 2015

Aside:  Thanks for all the comments on Monday’s post.  It’s been cool seeing everyone’s comments about the series as a whole and Kitty in particular.  Now, I really hope people like the book!

Movie review time:  Of the two Important British Scientists Biopics that came out this winter (I’m always fascinated when movies seem to happen in pairs like this), this was the one I was most interested in, because it’s WWII and because Turing is an overlooked, important, and ultimately tragic figure.  I could kind of predict what kind of story The Theory of Everything would be, but I was curious how this one would shake out.

The truth is, I wasn’t sure about The Imitation Game while I was watching it. It’s quite scattered, jumping around in time and unsure if it’s a character study or a rousing war story.  But then Turing turned on The Machine for the first time, and I started crying, and I thought, dang, the movie got to me, how did that happen?

This is a World War II movie of the Mythic WWII variety. It’s also a spy thriller, and a character study, and it was at its best as a character study.  The very best parts were the interactions of the Hut 8 codebreakers, and Alan trying to figure out how human beings work, which the movie proposes was more complicated to him than the most ornate cryptography.  There’s a climactic bit that takes place in the pub — Turing gets it, reacts, and then everyone else gets it a second later because they’re finally all on the same page — that the film sets up perfectly, and it made me wish the story had done without all the newsreel type footage of the actual war, because after all we’ve all seen that footage and we didn’t need to be reminded of what the stakes were.

A great deal of my uncertainty about the film also came from just being tired of the Socially Awkward Unpleasant Genius character, especially as played by Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m one of the few people who’s unhappy with his casting as Dr. Strange, because I worry we’re just going to get that same guy all over again. My vote was for Oded Fehr.

What I really wanted to do after the movie was find out more about Joan Clarke.  She’s one of those examples that I love discovering, that prove that women were there, doing important work wherever there was important work to be done.  They just never seem to get recognized for it.  History forgets about them, and we must remember.

Next time, or soon:  I have things to say about Penny Dreadful and Agent Carter.  Maybe even at the same time, which’ll be fun.


5 Responses to “The Imitation Game”

  1. DMS Says:

    “She’s one of those examples that I love discovering, that prove that women were there, doing important work wherever there was important work to be done.”

    Yes. All of the yes.

    I just finished Jean Jennings’ autobiography, Pioneer Programmer, and I will be reading Charolotte Webb’s in the very near future.

    Also, this website has several links I’ve been meaning to check out, and a book I’ll likely pick up once it is out:

  2. Carbonman Says:

    I hope like Hell that Benedict Cummerbatch takes the time to change from the types of characters he’s played recently.
    I also agree that Oded Fehr would have been a better choice as Dr. Strange. I really enjoy him on Covert Affairs and like his ability to project capability and not caring what others might think (there has to be a word for this – ‘disdain’ isn’t quite right).
    Half way through Low Midnight and enjoying it, will pass it on to my ‘Kitty’ reading buddy by Friday.

  3. juliefore Says:

    Bletchley Circle BBC TV series covers a group of women WWII codebreakers in their post-war lives. I doubt it is based upon actual people, but it does have some interesting scenes from their time in the Huts.

  4. William Says:

    A young Christopher Lee would make a great Doctor Strange.

    I watched The Man Who Could Cheat Death with Christopher Lee in a supporting role as a Victorian doctor a few years back. I thought he was the spitting image of Doctor Strange.

    I like to image Steve Ditko saw this film and it inspired his version of Doctor Strange.

  5. Speaking of WWII codebreakers–have you heard of the show The Bletchley Circle? I found it on Netflix this past weekend. It’s about a (fictional) group of women who were codebreakers in WWII and, about a decade later, they came together and use their skills to solve crime. There’s only seven episodes but they’re pretty fantastic (perhaps just because I was so jazzed about seeing so many women being awesome at once).

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