Come and decipher the Enigma with Alan Turing

Come and decipher the Enigma with Alan Turing

The Imitation Game
English (U/A) ****
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley
Director: Morten Tyldum

During World War II, the Germans had the advantage of Enigma—a rotor cipher machine to send secret messages. Everyday, the Nazis would change Enigma machines’ settings to one of 158 quintillion so that cracking their transmissions became humanly impossible. Attacks on the Allies became unpredictable and Enigma was considered unbreakable. The British government set up Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, specifically to decode these complex Nazi messages. But it was not so successful.

The Imitation Game is about the British operation to crack Enigma in World War II—a well-kept government secret for nearly fifty years—and the mathematical prodigy that was Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).

In the film, it is immediately evident that Turing was (or at least portrayed as) the stereotypical scientific genius; obnoxious, insufferable and narcissistic. He was eager to work at Hut 8 only because he wants a shot at solving the greatest mathematical problem on earth: Enigma.

The plot begins with Turing’s endeavour to work with the German machine or, rather, beat it. The storyline escalates from that point and it is difficult to find a moment to divert your attention. Even though the film is essentially about the life of Turing, it does not screen out like the usual biopic. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum’s second English film has been shot so that parts of it are as though Turing is narrating the story. The rest of it is experienced in real time, interspersed with a few original clippings of the actual war.

There are even flashbacks into Turing’s childhood that would allow a viewer to understand the psyche of the eccentric mathematician on a more profound level. Tyldum has not restricted himself to much of a timeline and that makes the film as easy to watch as it is enjoyable. The screenplay is crisp and does not leave any room for confusion.

Alan Turing was considered the brightest mathematician at Hut 8, or even the world, and Cumberbatch has embodied this character with perfection. There could not have been an actor better-suited for the role. There are a lot of reasons why this movie should be watched. The most important among them would be the feeling of being reminded what life was like during World War II and how the world would not have been where it is today without Alan Turing.

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