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the imitation game movie review essay

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How odd that “The Imitation Game,” one of the more rousingly entertaining crowd-pleasers coming out this holiday season—as endorsed by its People’s Choice Award at the Toronto film festival—also happens to be one of the most devastatingly sad.

On one hand, this is a tense World War II thriller about a stellar team of Brits who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma code. The movie boasts its own inspirational rallying cry, repeated three times in case you miss it, which would be perfect for embossing on a holly-bedecked greeting card: “Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines.”

On the other hand, it is an examination of the tragic circumstances that befell Alan Turing, the film’s central hero, who brings victory to the Allies by inventing a revolutionary machine that would give birth to the computer age. He would later be publicly vilified and savagely punished for engaging in homosexual  activity, which was criminalized in England at the time, before committing suicide in 1954.

Instead of being festooned with a chest full of medals, the closeted genius who saved countless lives by significantly shortening the war was cruelly subjected to chemically-induced castration in lieu of jail time. And, because much of the details were kept classified for 50 years, few knew of the extent of his wartime feats, even though he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services in 1945. He was officially pardoned of his offenses by Queen Elizabeth in 2013—a case of too little too late.

This atypical biopic about the brilliant, impossibly arrogant and socially awkward mathematician (played by Benedict Cumberbatch , impeccably perfect in every way) is a somewhat hard read at first. Most likely, it was the intent of screenwriter Graham Moore to make a puzzle out a film about puzzle solving. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, once the pieces fall into in place. The fractured narrative starts off as a mystery in 1951 with a detective investigating a burglary at Turing’s home where, strangely, nothing was stolen. Eventually, the plot flashes back to 1928 and shifts into a heart-breaking love story as a teen Turing, a brutally bullied school-boy prodigy, chastely falls for a fellow classmate named Christopher.

But “The Imitation Game” is most on its game when it primarily sticks to being a John le Carre-lite espionage  version of “Revenge of the Nerds,” beginning in 1939 as it introduces a battleground of the mind that relies on superior intellect rather than bombs to beat the enemy. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum in his English-language debut provides just enough science to explain what is at stake while escalating the beat-the-clock tension involved in the mission conducted by Turing and a handful of other high-IQ cohorts. Alexandre Desplat ’s hauntingly propulsive score further enhances the suspense while capturing the gravity of the situation.

It might seem a no-brainer to hire Cumberbatch for the job of bringing Turing to life. After all, what other actor these days is as well-suited to emblemize an aloof smarty-pants? Sorry, Robert Downey Jr. The torch has been passed. Instead of constantly reminding “Sherlock” fans of his Emmy-winning role as the Arthur Conan Doyle’s master of deduction, Cumberbatch has broken his own code of how to distinguish this particular eccentric genius as a completely separate but yet no less compelling entity.

To portray Turing, Cumberbatch’s seductive purr is less mellifluous, his lips are slightly pursed, his gaze is often averted and, despite his unwavering confidence in his thinking skills, there is an air of vulnerability and melancholy about him.

But, like Sherlock, Turing is given to verbal dust-ups that often end amusingly, especially with such haughty superiors as the uncompromising Commander Denniston (a superb Charles Dance , whose patrician nose practically rears up in disgust whenever his by-the-book overlord encounters Cumberbatch’s defiant whiz). Turing also has his protector in Mark Strong ’s head of intelligence, who calmly, coolly and with a sly wink runs interference for his not-exactly-diplomatic secret weapon at every turn.

As for the rest of the code breakers, Matthew Goode stands out as a caddish chess champ Hugh Alexander, who initially butts heads with Turing until he realizes the depth of his abilities. On board as John Cairncross is Allen Leech , best known as Branson the Irish chauffeur-turned-terrorist-turned aristocrat on “Downton Abbey,” who is the most tolerant of Turing’s idiosyncrasies.

If anyone comes close to matching Cumberbatch’s efforts, however, it is Keira Knightley . She brings a much-needed warmth, humor and Anglicized spunk to the proceedings as Joan Clarke, immediately winning over the audience’s affections when she is mistakenly pegged as a secretarial candidate while trying out for a code-breaking position. Clarke is as much of an odd duck as Turing—and perhaps even brighter—as the lone female involved in deciphering Enigma. Since it is considered “indecorous” for a single woman to work and share living quarters alongside men, she must sneak about to contribute to the effort.

Some of the best scenes involve Clarke and Turing, who confide in one another as equals—especially since both must hide their true identities. One of the more meaningful moments arrives when Turing jealously watches as Clarke immediately charms Alexander, a shameless pickup artist. When Turing asks her how she so easily made him like her, Clarke replies with Knightley’s posh accent, “I’m a woman in a man’s job. I don’t have the luxury of being an ass.” The "like you" at the end of that sentence is implied, of course.

Matters turn slightly hokey as the final solution to Enigma code relies on several “By Jove, I’ve got it” revelations. But, by then, you will likely be fully invested in the outcome, no matter how out of left field it might seem.  Some of Cumberbatch’s most affecting work is when the older and close-to-defeated Turing is at the end of his rope, unable to even focus on a crossword puzzle because of the drugs he has been given. But as I sit here typing away, I realize I have Turing to thank for being able to access a wealth of information with just a few key strokes and a click of a mouse.

Susan Wloszczyna

Susan Wloszczyna

Susan Wloszczyna spent much of her nearly thirty years at USA TODAY as a senior entertainment reporter. Now unchained from the grind of daily journalism, she is ready to view the world of movies with fresh eyes.

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Film Credits

The Imitation Game movie poster

The Imitation Game (2014)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking

114 minutes

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing

Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke

Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies

Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander

Rory Kinnear as Nock

Charles Dance as Commander Denniston

Allen Leech as John Cairncross

Matthew Beard as Peter Hilton

  • Morten Tyldum
  • Graham Moore
  • Alexandre Desplat
  • William Goldenberg

Director of Photography

  • Óscar Faura

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The Imitation Game review – an engrossing and poignant thriller

“A re you paying attention?” breathes Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing in the opening moments of this handsomely engrossing and poignantly melancholic thriller from Norwegian director Morten Tyldum. There’s little chance of doing anything else as Tyldum, who directed the tonally divergent Headhunters, serves up rollicking code-cracking wartime thrills laced with an astringent cyanide streak – a tale of plucky British ingenuity underpinned by an acknowledgement that Turing, as Gordon Brown put it, “deserved so much better”.

Granted a posthumous royal pardon for his “gross indecency” conviction only last year, the mathematician and AI pioneer changed the course of the war only to suffer the indignities of arrest and “chemical castration”, dying in 1954 having apparently taken a bite from a poisoned apple.

Yet The Imitation Game is not a tragedy – rather, it is a celebration of Turing’s extraordinary achievements, a populist yarn that makes an admirably firm fist of establishing its spiky subject as a heroic outsider. As the mantra from Graham Moore’s catchy script puts it: “Sometimes it is the people whom no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

Reluctantly recruited by Commander Alastair Denniston (a witheringly supercilious Charles Dance) to join the country’s top minds at Bletchley Park in 1939, Cumberbatch’s appropriately indecipherable “odd duck” bumbles his way into Churchill’s confidence, securing funding to build a proto-computer (or “Bombe”) to crack the Germans’ daily changing Enigma code.

Meanwhile, plucky Cambridge maths grad Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) uses her crossword-solving skills to earn a place on Turing’s team and (unusually) in his affections. As the cogs of his Heath Robinsonesque creation whir, Turing struggles impotently to decode the signals of human interaction, the secret of his sexuality and the spectre of a lost childhood friend becoming talismanic ghosts in the machine.

Expanding upon the temporal shifts structure of Hugh Whitemore’s 1986 play Breaking the Code (adapted by the BBC in 1996, with Derek Jacobi reprising his starring role as Turing), Graham Moore’s dextrous screenplay skips between three distinct periods: Turing’s schooldays, wherein he tells close friend Christopher that people are like cryptographic puzzles; his time at Bletchley park, and the nail-biting adventures of the celebrated “Hut 8”; and the aftermath of the 1952 break-in at Turing’s Manchester home, which alerted the police to his homosexuality, with appalling consequences.

Historical liberties taken in the pursuit of drama range from the inevitable to the controversial (biographer Andrew Hodges, on whose book this is based, has complained that “they have built up the relationship with Joan”, suggesting a coyness about Turing’s true sexuality), with occasional false steps of all too convenient overstatement (placing the brother of a key code-breaker on board a doomed ship).

Yet for the most part, truth is sacrificed for the greater good of engaging cinema; Turing’s real-life “Bombe” may have been encased in a neat Bakelite box, but the audience needs to see its wires spreading out like entrails, mapping the complexities of its creator’s mind.

Crucially, Tyldum does not underplay the romance that blossoms between Alan and his machine, whose lovelorn nickname suggests that it has somehow become his bride of Frankenstein (“You are a monster!” Joan tells him when angry). The film’s very title refers to a game posited by Turing to deduce whether one was speaking to a man, woman or machine – a forerunner of the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner to which this owes a greater debt than such apparently comparable fare as 2001’s Enigma .

Just as Deckard fell for the android Rachael, so Turing is enraptured not by people but by an artificial intelligence. Both he and his machine are struggling to understand coded communications for which they have no instinctive key, strangers in a strange land, searching for a common language.

With such an alienated antihero it would be easy for The Imitation Game to fall into either arch chilliness or mechanical contrivance. Plaudits, then, to Cumberbatch for making his protagonist complex rather than just complicated. While the lines of the film are bold, clear and concise, Cumberbatch keeps Turing’s true motives and emotions so enigmatically concealed that at one point you wonder whether he really is a Soviet spy. Top marks, too, to rising star Alex Lawther, who is quite brilliant as the young Alan, perfectly paving the way for the tortured insularity of Cumberbatch’s performance.

While Turing remains enticingly unreadable, his coterie of friends and colleagues is rendered in immediately identifiable vignettes, precisely cast, efficiently played. The mercurial Mark Strong is terrific as Major General Stewart Menzies, the é minence grise who intertwines menace and magnanimity with mesmerising ease. Matthew Goode is on home ground as “bit of a cad” Hugh Alexander, with whom everyone is understandably infatuated.

As for Knightley, while her role may tend somewhat toward brainy posh-girl caricature (the exclamation “Oh!” becomes “Ay-o!”), she manages to breathe warmth and humanity into the character of Joan, a likable foil to the impenetrable Turing, her affectionate gaze mediating our response to his perpetually unbreakable enigma.

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Anatomy of a Scene | ‘Imitation Game’

Morten tyldum narrates a sequence from ”the imitation game,” featuring benedict cumberbatch..

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By A.O. Scott

  • Nov. 27, 2014

“The Imitation Game” is a highly conventional movie about a profoundly unusual man. This is not entirely a bad thing. Alan Turing’s tragically shortened life — he was 41 when he died in 1954 — is a complex and fascinating story, bristling with ideas and present-day implications, and it benefits from the streamlined structure and accessible presentation of modern prestige cinema. The science is not too difficult, the emotions are clear and emphatic, and the truth of history is respected just enough to make room for tidy and engrossing drama.

An Alan Turing biopic is, all in all, a very welcome thing. Chances are that you are reading this, as I am writing it, on a device that came into being partly as a result of papers Turing published in the 1930s exploring the possibility of what he called a “universal machine.” His decisive contribution to the breaking of the Nazi Enigma code gave the Allied forces an intelligence advantage that helped defeat Germany, though the extent of his wartime role was kept secret for many years. The secret of his homosexuality was revealed when he was arrested on indecency charges in 1952, caught up in a Cold War climate of homophobia and political paranoia and subjected to the pseudoscientific cruelty of the British judicial system.

Battle of the British Geniuses

Benedict cumberbatch, left, and eddie redmayne both star in biopics about ingenious british men..

“The battle of the British geniuses” is one of the themes that has emerged from this years Oscar race, for this year there are two biopics about two ingenious English men. One is the “Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which tells the story about Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician who cracked a seemingly impenetrable Nazi code, known as enigma, only to be persecuted for being gay. The other is “Theory of Everything,” starring Eddie Redmayne as the astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, in a film that focuses largely on his 30-year marriage to his indomitable wife Jane, played by Felicity Jones. Both films are in the running for best picture nods, and both leads - Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Cumberbatch - are projected to be nominated for best actor. This has raised the specter that, for Academy voters, the films might in effect cancel each other out, by dint of their roughly similar themes. Adding a further twist, Mr. Cumberbatch played Stephen Hawking, in a BBC television production in 2004. Both of their characters also find indefatigable support in exceptionally bright women - in the “Imitation Game,” it is the character played by Keira Knightley, and in Theory of Everything, Ms. Jones. OF course there are differences between the two. “Imitation Game” is more of an ensemble piece, and “Theory of Everything” a story of a couple whose relationship ultimately runs its course. Mr. Cumberbatch’s Turing is cut off from others by both his homosexuality - which was illegal at the time - and his inability to read social cues. As Hawking, Mr. Redmayne undergoes an astonishing physical transformation as he bodies is increasingly paralyzed by ALS. And, for both actors, the challenge was to reach beyond these impediments to reveal the inner emotional life of each man.

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All of this is a lot for a single movie to take in, and “The Imitation Game,” directed by Morten Tyldum from a script by Graham Moore, prunes and compresses a narrative laid out most comprehensively in Andrew Hodges’s scrupulous and enthralling 1983 biography . The film interweaves three decisive periods in Turing’s life, using his interrogation by a Manchester detective (Rory Kinnear) as a framing device. Turing tells the investigator — who thinks he is after a Soviet spy rather than a gay man — about what he did during the war. Later, there are flashbacks to Turing’s school days, where he discovered the joys of cryptography and fell in love with a slightly older boy named Christopher Morcom.

The adult Turing is played by Benedict Cumberbatch (his younger self is Alex Lawther), expanding his repertoire of socially awkward intellectual prodigies, real and fictional. What has made Mr. Cumberbatch so effective as Sherlock Holmes and Julian Assange — and what makes his Alan Turing one of the year’s finest pieces of screen acting — is his curious ability to suggest cold detachment and acute sensitivity at the same time. If he did not exist, 21st-century popular culture would have to invent him: a sentient robot, an empathetic space alien, a warm-blooded salamander with crazy sex appeal .

Movie Review: ‘The Imitation Game”

The times critic a. o. scott reviews “the imitation game.”.

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His Turing, whom the film seems to place somewhere on the autism spectrum, is as socially awkward as he is intellectually agile. He can perceive patterns invisible to others but also finds himself stranded in the desert of the literal. Jokes fly over his head, sarcasm does not register, and when one of his colleagues says, “We’re going to get some lunch,” Turing hears a trivial statement of fact rather than a friendly invitation.

“The Imitation Game” derives some easy amusement from the friction between this “odd duck” and the prevailing culture of his native pond. The film’s notion of Britain — not inaccurate, but also not hugely insightful — is as a land of understatement, indirection and steadfast obedience to norms of behavior that seem, to a fiercely logical mind like Turing’s, arbitrary and incomprehensible. At Bletchley Park, the country estate where teams of linguists and mathematicians are working under military supervision to break Enigma, he is seen as stubborn and arrogant. The head of Bletchley, Commander Denniston (Charles Dance), finds him insufferable, as does Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), the suave, clever playboy who runs the Enigma project until Turing, with an off-screen assist from Winston Churchill, displaces him.

the imitation game movie review essay

The Bletchley section, enlivened by the indispensably charming Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, the only woman on the Enigma team, is the heart of the film, though it is also the most familiar and in some ways the least challenging part. (Earlier dramatizations include Hugh Whitemore’s play “Breaking the Code” and Michael Apted’s silly, Turing-free 2002 movie “Enigma.” ) Mr. Tyldum, a Norwegian filmmaker perhaps best known for the slick thriller “Headhunters” (2012), orchestrates a swift and suspenseful race against the clock with a few touches of intrigue and ethical uncertainty. Mark Strong pops out of the shadows now and then as a silky, cynical MI6 spymaster, perhaps the only person in the British political establishment who fully appreciates Turing’s oddity and his genius.

“The Imitation Game,” meanwhile, settles for a partial appreciation. Turing’s sexuality is mystified and marginalized, treated as an abstraction and a plot point. There is no sense that, between his chaste, intense and brief passion for Christopher and the anonymous encounter that led indirectly to his arrest, love, sex or romance played any significant part in Turing’s life at all. Mr. Hodges’s biography, threaded with quotations from Walt Whitman, gives eloquent and sensitive testimony to the contrary. For their part, the filmmakers, though willing to treat Turing as a victim of bigotry and repression, also nudge him back toward the closet, imposing a discretion that is at once self-protective and self-congratulatory. It’s not that we need to see him having sex — the PG-13 rating must be protected, I guess — but that a vital aspect of his identity and experience deserves more than a whisper and a wink.

Stars Attend ‘The Imitation Game’ Premiere in New York

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The film’s sexual politics may be musty and retrograde, but in other respects, it is very much a document of the present. There are lines of dialogue that sound either anachronistic or — it may amount to the same thing — prophetic. It is thrilling and strange to hear the words “digital computer” uttered a half-century before any such thing existed, and when Turing says “think differently,” it is impossible not to hear a grammatically fastidious premonition of the once-ubiquitous Apple advertising slogan. Another sentence — a slightly clumsy invocation of the power of imagination — is repeated three times and sounds each time as if it had been plagiarized from a TED talk.

More fundamentally, “The Imitation Game” is a parable of disruption. It not only provides an origin myth for the digital age, but it also projects the ideology of the present back into the past. Turing, an eccentric visionary stuck in an organization that is bureaucratic, hierarchical and wedded to tradition, is an apostle of innovation. Commander Denniston lectures him about the importance of “order, discipline and chain of command” for the war effort, but the solving of Enigma decisively rebuts this old-fashioned notion. The strategic acumen of generals and the tactical valor of soldiers is incidental. What won the war was data, and the heroes were the tech guys (and the one woman) who worked late, snacked freely, fiddled with crossword puzzles and geeked out over a piece of hardware that looked like a giant toy. Hut 8 at Bletchley Park serves as a prototype for the corporate campuses of Apple, Google and Facebook.

Just a few years ago, this film might have felt radical and counterintuitive, like a daring, inspired leap from one era to another, or an excavation of the hidden history of the present. Instead, it has the shiny, hollow ring of conventional wisdom. It’s kind of perfect, and also kind of stale.

“The Imitation Game” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Illicit sex, cataclysmic violence and advanced math, most of it mentioned rather than shown.

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Review: ‘Imitation Game’ a crackerjack tale about Enigma buster Alan Turing

the imitation game movie review essay

Kenneth Turan reviews ‘The Imitation Game’ Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode. Video by Jason H. Neubert

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The disturbing, involving, always-complex story of British mathematician Alan Turing is a tale crafted to resonate for our time, and the smartly entertaining “The Imitation Game” gives it the kind of crackerjack cinematic presentation that’s pure pleasure to experience.

Turing, exceptionally well-played by Benedict Cumberbatch, was a brilliant man, often considered the father of computer science, whose top-secret work as a code breaker of genius shortened World War II by years, saved millions of lives and was so central to the Allied victory that it was said the war could not have been won without it.

But Turing was also a homosexual at a time when that was an out and out crime in Britain, and as a result (a bit like the politically suspect atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer in this country), he was humiliated and destroyed by a postwar establishment that would have perished without his efforts.

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Named after a paper Turing wrote about artificial intelligence, “The Imitation Game” does not lack for conventional elements. But they are handled with such depth and emotion by a top cast that includes Keira Knightley, Mark Strong and Charles Dance that we end up impressed by the level of intelligent storytelling it provides.

Stories this involving invariably start with a persuasive script, and Graham Moore’s is so good, filled with on-target dialogue that’s as explosive as any wartime munitions, that it landed at the top of the 2012 Black List for best unproduced scripts.

“Imitation Game” goes back and forth between three time periods, starting in 1952 in Manchester with a startling monologue (“Pay close attention, I will not pause, I will not repeat myself” is how it begins) that Turing delivers to a busybody police detective (Rory Kinnear) during the interrogation that follows his arrest for “gross indecency.”

Things then flash back to 1939 at Bletchley Park, the site of Turing’s code-breaking exploits and the film’s central location, as well as retreating even further in time to Turing’s miserable 1929 schoolboy days at the Sherborne School.

Giving Turing’s wartime exploits, as well as the entire film, the unexpected pacing of a thriller is the work of Norwegian director Morten Tyldum, whose crackling “Headhunters,” adapted from the novel by Jo Nesbo, became the highest-grossing film in that country’s history.

The same qualities that the director exhibited in that picture, including a fascination with narrative structure, the creation of a frisson of danger and an ability to handle personal situations as well as action moments, give “Imitation Game” more high tension than its outline would have you believe.

Helping in this, as he does in all things, is star Cumberbatch. For years, he’s been excellent in smaller roles in films like “Amazing Grace,” “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” but he didn’t become a major player until he became Sherlock Holmes on British TV.

Good as he’s been in the past, however, the richness and complexity of Turing’s character make this portrayal of an arrogant, difficult, sure-of-himself individual the role of Cumberbatch’s career. His performance makes Turing accessible, even palatable, and gives us a sense of how smart, how impossible, yet how finally human was this man whose idea of a compliment was to say, “That is not an entirely terrible idea.”

The wartime sections of “Imitation Game” open with Turing, as he often was, in an adversarial mode. Only 27 but one of the world’s best mathematicians, he has come down to Bletchley Park to offer his services as a code breaker, but the spit-and-polish man in charge, Cmdr. Denniston (a splendidly apoplectic Dance), takes an instant dislike to him and is about to show him the door — until he mentions Enigma.

Nazi Germany’s code creator, the super-secret Enigma machine was considered all but unbreakable because of the millions of options possible for the codes it created daily. Turing believes he knows how to beat it, but it won’t be easy.

The British have put together a team to break Enigma’s code, including the suave national chess champion Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) and the empathetic John Cairncross (“Downton Abbey’s” Allen Leech).

But being on a team is definitely not Turing’s style, and because the culture of personal small talk is one code he will never break, he is totally at sea in human relations. Turing hopes to best Enigma by creating another machine, one that can think, but he is such a pain that his teammates almost hope he fails.

Turing’s fortunes begin to change when key people start to believe in him, including MI6 honcho Stewart Menzies (Strong) and a diffident female math whiz named Joan Clarke (Knightley) he hires as the result of a newspaper crossword puzzle competition.

The level-headed but invariably cheerful Clarke, who frankly tells the difficult Turing, “I’m a woman in a man’s job. I don’t have the luxury of being an ass,” is some of Knightley’s best work. She sees Turing for what he is, attraction to men included, but his personality does not stand in the way of their closeness.

As a marvelous-looking computing machine gradually gets built (Maria Djurkovic is the production designer), the truth of “Imitation Game’s” Turing-generated theme becomes more and more apparent: “Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” A too tidy sentiment, perhaps, but a top-notch film nevertheless.

Twitter: @KennethTuran


‘The Imitation Game’

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking

Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Playing: At ArcLight, Hollywood, Landmark Theater, West L.A.

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The imitation game, common sense media reviewers.

the imitation game movie review essay

Strong performances buoy teen-friendly historical drama.

The Imitation Game Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Perseverance pays off. Gender doesn't dictate

Turing sticks to his guns and his beliefs despite

Bullies torment a classmate at a boys' school;

Couples flirt in social situations. Sexual identit

Some swearing; mostly British slang from the perio

Social drinking and period-accurate smoking. A cha

Parents need to know that The Imitation Game is a historical drama that explores the role that cryptologists and mathematicians played in World War II. Expect candid discussions about lives lost during war, accompanied by footage showing bombs falling and soldiers firing guns. A boy is also tormented by…

Positive Messages

Perseverance pays off. Gender doesn't dictate intelligence or competency (the 1940s, specifically the Bletchley Project in England, helped usher in gender equality in the sciences). Empathy is a major theme.

Positive Role Models

Turing sticks to his guns and his beliefs despite being told by his superiors that he's wrong. Joan Clarke was ahead of her time in her response to Turing's sexuality and courageous in her approach to work.

Violence & Scariness

Bullies torment a classmate at a boys' school; they trap him under floorboards, tease him in the yard, and shove him around. Scenes of battle during World War II show bombs being dropped, buildings exploding, and soldiers firing at enemies. Professional arguments at work are laced with personal vendettas and implied threats.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Couples flirt in social situations. Sexual identity is a theme of the movie.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Some swearing; mostly British slang from the period. One character is labeled a "toff" and a "poof."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking and period-accurate smoking. A character makes a reference to taking drugs that cause chemical castration.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Imitation Game is a historical drama that explores the role that cryptologists and mathematicians played in World War II. Expect candid discussions about lives lost during war, accompanied by footage showing bombs falling and soldiers firing guns. A boy is also tormented by school bullies. Leading the team of scientists trying to break the Germans' Enigma code is Alan Turing ( Benedict Cumberbatch ), a closeted homosexual who ends up being vilified for his sexuality. The subject of is handled fairly delicately and is discussed in mostly oblique ways, though characters do call him slurs, like "toff." Ultimately there are strong themes about the power of persistence and the fact that gender doesn't dictate intelligence or competency. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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the imitation game movie review essay

Community Reviews

  • Parents say (25)
  • Kids say (50)

Based on 25 parent reviews

Beware of several graphic sexual discussions for younger children

(spoiler) great movie for bright kids -- but with a big note of caution, what's the story.

THE IMITATION GAME begins in 1941, when Europe is in the clutches of Nazi Germany. In Britain, air raids have become a way of life, and thousands of soldiers are dying on the battlefield. To fight its enemies, the British government recruits the country's best mathematicians and scientists to help break the code for the Enigma, a machine the Germans use to send instructions to their military personnel. Enter Alan Turing ( Benedict Cumberbatch ), a Cambridge-educated cryptologist who, with a team of mathematicians -- including the pioneering Joan Clarke ( Keira Knightley ), one of a very few women on the project -- sets out to crack Enigma and its secrets. But Turing holds a secret of his own: He's gay. And he may be attacked by his peers, and the government, for that fact.

Is It Any Good?

Without question, Cumberbatch is up to the task of bringing to life a complicated, brilliant man. Turing is multi-dimensional, his emotional depths layered. He is, by far, the best part of this enjoyable, if flawed, film. As entertainment, The Imitation Game has loads to recommend it: It's paced well, features strong performances from the ensemble, and does a fine enough job of explaining the ideas behind cryptology. But history buffs will know that it's a condensation and that the filmmakers have been liberal with their shortcuts. Bletchley Park, where the Enigma code was broken, had dozens of code-breakers toiling on the project, not the handful shown here. (They're framed and shot like a gang of superheroes before the climax of a big face-off -- a simplistic take on greatness.)

Turing's achievements can't be boiled down to one cinematic moment, as they are here. It would have been better if the movie had attempted to show the project's elaborateness, rather than simplifying it for the screen. And his hidden homosexuality is given a rather superficial study, its impact on his life hurried in the final act. Still, Cumberbatch deserves all the praise that he'll no doubt reap. He's fantastic.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about Turing's personal life and how it was dragged through the mud in the 1950s. How does The Imitation Game depict this? How might it be different today?

Some facts were altered to fit the movie's narrative. How do you feel about that? Should movies inspired by history be strictly factual? Why might filmmakers choose to tweak the facts?

How does the movie portray bullying ? What effects does it have?

How do the characters in The Imitation Game demonstrate empathy and perseverance ? Why are these important character strengths ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : November 28, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming : March 31, 2015
  • Cast : Benedict Cumberbatch , Keira Knightley , Matthew Goode
  • Director : Morten Tyldum
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : Weinstein Co.
  • Genre : Drama
  • Topics : History
  • Character Strengths : Empathy , Perseverance
  • Run time : 114 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking
  • Award : Common Sense Selection
  • Last updated : February 22, 2024

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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  • Entertainment
  • The True Story of <i>The Imitation Game</i>

The True Story of The Imitation Game


T hough The Imitation Game was largely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma , much of Alan Turing’s life is shrouded in mystery. Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film, is credited as the father of computer science. He cracked codes produced by the German military’s seemingly unbreakable Enigma machine during World War II using math, engineering and still-to-be-invented computer science. But most of the documents tracing his work for the British government have been destroyed and little is known about Turing’s personal life.

Here’s what is likely truth and what is embellishment in The Imitation Game based on Alan Turing: The Enigma and the Turing Exhibition at London’s Science Museum.

Alan Turing’s first love, Christopher, died at a young age

Ruling: Fact

Christopher, an older student at Sherborne School in Dorset, was also interested in math. Turing harbored feelings toward Christopher, though Turing believed his love was not reciprocated. In the movie, Turing learns of Christopher’s death after-the-fact from his headmaster. In reality, Turing had been told his friend was sick and to prepare for the worst before Christopher passed.

Christopher’s death did spur Turing to pursue mathematics in the hope that he could understand whether part of Christopher could somehow live on without his body. In the year after his death, Turing wrote an essay in which he discussed how the soul might survive after death with a nod to the new field of quantum mechanics.

Alan Turing was a closeted gay man

Alan Turing was gay at a time when homesexual activity was outlawed in England. In 1952, he was convicted of “gross indecency.” (He admitted to being gay but pled not guilty because he thought the law was unjust.) He was sentenced to probation that involved chemical castration (see more below) and committed suicide within two years with cyanide.

The filmmakers decided not to include the suicide in the movie even though they filmed the scene. Benedict Cumberbatch explained to the press at New York City’s 92Y that in the film’s last scene, “Someone [is] telling [Turing] something he never had told to him in his life: That he did matter — the fact that he was regarded as different and not normal was hugely important to the world and to everybody around him. No one had told him that in his life. So to end it on that note, with someone explaining, was our way of thanking him in the structure of the film, our eulogy to him.”

Joan Clarke is invited to Bletchley Park, the home of the government’s code breaking operation, after completing a crossword puzzle

Ruling: Fiction

Clarke’s professor at Oxford helped her get into the program (which was dominated by men). The crossword puzzle test scene is fictionalized, though that was a method the government did use to recruit code-crackers at the time.

Joan’s parents didn’t want her at Bletchley

In the movie, the Clarkes do not want their daughter to crack codes for the government because she is a woman, but that aspect of the film was added for dramatic tension.

Turing named the code breaking machine “Christopher”

In the film, Turing tells Clarke that he named the machine “Christopher.” (The audience knows it’s named after Turing’s first love, though Clarke doesn’t know that part.) Turing is obsessed with the idea of using a computer to engineer a human brain or even a soul, and dubbing the computer “Christopher” makes it seem as if Turing may be trying to find a way to resurrect his old love. In reality, the machine was called the Bombe and nicknamed “Victory.”

John Cairncross threatens to expose Turing’s sexuality if Turing reveals he’s a spy

In the film, Cairncross says he will tell the government Turing’s secret sexuality if Turing reveals that Caincross is a spy. The blackmail works for a while and Turing covers up for Cairnscross. In fact, the two never met. Though Cairncross was at Bletchley Park, he did not work with Turing. There were strict separations between the units. As far as historians can tell, Turing never hid spies from the government.

Turing asked Clarke to marry him

Turing and Clarke were indeed engaged for a time. And, like in the movie, they never went through with the marriage. Turing revealed his true sexuality to his fiancée and, according to Turing , Clarke was “unfazed” by the revelation.

Some critics have said the friendship and pseudo-romance between Turing and Clarke is overblown in the film. Keira Knightley, who plays Clarke, told the Huffington Post , “I think what we’re trying to get to is the essence of what it was. And at that time with Alan, to my knowledge, he didn’t have another affair, or an affair actually, with a man. His big friendship was with a woman and he did ask her to marry him.”

MORE: The History Behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game

The government thought Turing might be a Soviet spy

In the film, an officer interrogates Turing thinking he’s a spy and accidentally uncovers Turing’s sexuality. In reality, Turing was investigated for “gross indecency” after he reported a petty theft to the police. In his report, he concealed the fact that he was in a relationship with the possible thief. After the police pursued the charge, Turing finally submitted a five-page report admitting to his affair with a man.

Turing underwent chemical castration after his conviction

Consensual sex between two men remained illegal until 1967 in England. To avoid prison, Turing accepted treatment with estrogen, chemical castration meant to neutralize his libido. Gay men were considered a security risk to the government because they were open to blackmail, so Turing lost his security clearance. Turing died on June 7, 1954. He was found with a partly-eaten apple, and many biographers have posited it was laced with cyanide. But the autopsy found four ounces of cyanide in Turing’s stomach, suggesting he drank the poison and ate the apple to make the experience more palatable.

Some have suggested Apple’s symbol, the apple, is a tribute to Turing, though Steve Jobs denied this connection on multiple occasions.

MORE: Review: The Imitation Game : Dancing With Dr. Strange

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The Imitation Game

By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

It’s an undeniable pleasure to dig into a crackling spy thriller dished out by experts. The Imitation Game is an immersive true story that laces dizzying tension with raw emotion. Benedict Cumberbatch , an Emmy winner for Sherlock Holmes, turns on the brainpower again to play Alan Turing, a genius mathematician and social misfit who teamed up with a handful of cryptanalysts at London’s Bletchley Park during World War II to crack the Nazis’ naval code and help win the war. That he did, only to see his achievements buried in government secrecy and to end his own life in 1954 after being persecuted for the then-crime of homosexuality. The queen pardoned him posthumously last year. Talk about too little, too late.

And yet The Imitation Game doesn’t dawdle over the spilled milk of social treachery. The roguish script by newcomer Graham Moore alleviates the feel of a musty period piece. And Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum ( Headhunters ) directs with masterly assurance, fusing suspense and character to create a movie that vibrates with energy.

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The film’s prime force is Cumberbatch, a great actor whose talent shines here on its highest beams. It’s an explosive, emotionally complex performance. An early scene in which Turing, 27, interviews for a job at Bletchley with Commander Dennison (Charles Dance, doing smug to a turn) is wonderfully comic as Turing gains the upper hand. The commander retaliates by hiring chess champion Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) to head the unit, which includes John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard). Turing later persuades Winston Churchill to put him in charge of his perceived inferiors. He’s more amenable to Joan Clarke ( Keira Knightley ), the only woman in the unit. Knightley is terrific, giving a supporting role major dimensions. It’s sharply poignant to watch these two delude themselves into considering marriage.

The action ignites when, after two years of effort, Turing invents his Enigma-busting machine, a proto-computer geared to break a code that the Nazis change every 24 hours. It’s been a long time since intellectual sparring created such excitement onscreen. I’ve heard a few critics dismiss this mind-bender as hopelessly old-hat. Ha! If so, long live retro. ​

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The Imitation Game

2014, History/Drama, 1h 53m

What to know

Critics Consensus

With an outstanding starring performance from Benedict Cumberbatch illuminating its fact-based story, The Imitation Game serves as an eminently well-made entry in the "prestige biopic" genre. Read critic reviews

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The imitation game videos, the imitation game   photos.

In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma -- which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing's team, including Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become heroes, but in 1952, the quiet genius encounters disgrace when authorities reveal he is gay and send him to prison.

Rating: PG-13 (Mature Thematic Material|Historical Smoking|Some Sexual References)

Genre: History, Drama, Biography, Lgbtq+

Original Language: English

Director: Morten Tyldum

Producer: Nora Grossman , Ido Ostrowsky , Teddy Schwarzman

Writer: Graham Moore

Release Date (Theaters): Dec 25, 2014  wide

Release Date (Streaming): Nov 30, 2016

Box Office (Gross USA): $91.1M

Runtime: 1h 53m

Distributor: Weinstein Co.

Production Co: Black Bear Pictures, Bristol Automotive

Cast & Crew

Benedict Cumberbatch

Alan Turing

Keira Knightley

Joan Clarke

Matthew Goode

Hugh Alexander

Rory Kinnear

Det. Robert Nock

Allen Leech

John Cairncross

Matthew Beard

Peter Hilton

Charles Dance

Commander Denniston

Mark Strong

Stewart Menzies

Alex Lawther

Morten Tyldum

Graham Moore


Executive Producer

Nora Grossman

Ido Ostrowsky

Teddy Schwarzman

Oscar Faura


William Goldenberg

Film Editing

Alexandre Desplat

Original Music

Maria Djurkovic

Production Design

Supervising Art Direction

Rebecca Milton

Art Director

Marco Anton Restivo

Sammy Sheldon

Costume Design

News & Interviews for The Imitation Game

New on Netflix October 2019

Winner Emerges in Rotten Tomatoes’ Benedict Cumber-bracket

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Critic Reviews for The Imitation Game

Audience reviews for the imitation game.

a sound piece of cinema. mathematics, war and homosexualism. benedict cumberbatch plays the totally not normal genius alan turin passionately. good job from all the supporting cast.

the imitation game movie review essay

The dialogue is wonderfully snappy, but the problem with Benedict Cumberbatch playing fundamentally unlikeable characters is that, well, he plays characters that are fundamentally unlikeable. Still, a great film for the progressive cause.

Alan Turing turned out to be one of our greatest minds in history. What he accomplished during WWII and beyond just before his death will forever be remembered, and The Imitation Game gives us a moving tribute to a brief period of his life that mattered most. Even with some stellar acting from our lead Benedict Cumberbatch and quite the proper supporting cast, why do I feel like the climax never quite reached the top of the crest before coming back down the other side? I get that Turing was a tinkerer, but throughout the film, instead of feeling connected with a character's mind to see at least try and understand what's going on, the movie instead keeps the viewer at arms length, much like the rest of his team until the machine magically gets completed at the end of the second act. Sure we get the machine cost 100,000 pounds and that it works on electricity from being unplugged or switched off and on countless times, but at least give the audience the benefit of the doubt to try and understand how it works with some more depth. That aside, Cumberbatch and company put in excellent performances from beginning to end. Keira Knightley and him shine together on screen with each other's nuances worn on their sleeves. The importance of the film is doubled with the inclusions of Mark Strong and Charles Dance in brief, but crucial scenes they act the hell out of over the two hours. Immediately, my mind went to comparing this movie to A Beautiful Mind. While that ended up being more of a love story and look into mental illness, The Imitation Game sticks to more of an espionage theme. Perhaps that's why I still consider the former better than the latter here, but overall, whenever the silver screen gives us a chance to peek into great minds like these, I'm more than happy to sit back and be amazed.

Interesting and absorbing biopic of Allan Turing, the man who cracked Enigma, the Nazi code-generating machine, thereby helping win the war and marking the dawn of the computer age. If there ever was a name that predestined it's bearer to take the stage, it's Benedict Cumberbatch, and he lives up to it with a galvanizing portrayal of a man with a brilliant mind but severe lack of social skill. Keira Knightley is a treat providing the lone female presence, a math savant who joins Turing's team and later enters into in an engagement of mutual convenience with him. A well-written, informative film covers these events of historical importance with intelligence, wit, and class.

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  • Movie Review

'The Imitation Game' review: turning Alan Turing's life into a code-breaking thriller

Sit back and watch benedict cumberbatch play another genius.

  • By Jacob Kastrenakes
  • on November 21, 2014 11:45 am

the imitation game movie review essay

We all want to know what it’s like to be a genius. That seems to be the big appeal of going to see a movie about one, and there happens to be two this month alone — both focusing on hugely important British scientists. The latest is about Alan Turing, a mathematician who was among the early pioneers of computer science. That might not sound all that glamorous, but his life was actually quite dramatic: he’s one of the most important World War II codebreakers and was later persecuted for his sexuality to a tragic end.

Turing’s life during World War II is the subject of The Imitation Game , a new movie from director Morten Tyldum. Tyldum is a relatively unknown director from Norway, and this is his first film in English. He frames The Imitation Game as a thriller, presenting the story of Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, as he attempts to crack Germany's Enigma machine — an encryption device that’s preventing the Allies from reading any Nazi messages. It’s a story of espionage, just with math instead of guns.

But while the film broadly covers the process of breaking Enigma, the movie’s heart is really Turing himself. The film has two central mysteries — both expressed quite clearly to the viewer — and they’re exactly what you’d want to know walking into the theater: who is Alan Turing, and how did he crack one of the greatest encryption devices ever made?

On its own, the process of cracking Enigma is not very compelling. It’s a matter of engineering and drafting plans for machinery — abstract processes that don’t make for an engaging story. Instead, The Imitation Game turns to Turing himself to keep the process interesting. For one, Turing’s a genius, and it’s fascinating to learn how he operates. But it turns out that Turing is a pretty unusual guy, too. He’s removed and unsociable. He’s smarter than everyone else in the room, but sometimes, he just totally doesn’t get it. The Imitation Game lets us watch as Turing and those around him come to deal with how incapable he is of balancing his genius and his inability to get along with others. Ultimately, the challenge of cracking Enigma comes down to whether Turing can open up to his colleagues to get the help and fortitude that he needs, and that’s a conflict worth watching.

There’s also another defining struggle of Turing’s life: that he is a gay man at a time when gay sex is illegal. This is presented as an underlying challenge for Turing in this film — something that he is not always contending with, but is often present — and it is naturally a critical aspect of Turing to explore given his conviction for "indecency" later in life.

The Imitation Game explores this in a few different ways. The first is in Turing’s growing friendship with Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightley, a fellow codebreaker who is among the few people that understand him. She’s able to do this because she, too, is often the odd one out: a woman in a man’s world, and someone who is doing far more incredible things than anyone expected of her. On her own, Clarke provides a wonderful, lighthearted aside to Turing’s seriousness. (She also throws down a man or two who’s too dumb to realize how smart she is, which is pretty great.) But mostly, she’s there to help us see into Turing, giving him the opportunity to talk to someone on his level. His interest in her is also a constant pressure on him, slowly forcing Turing to contend with the fact that he does not truly want to be with her romantically.

The movie also explores Turing and his struggles as a gay man by drawing comparisons between him and the machine that he’s building to crack Engima, neither being something that anyone else can fully understand. It’s funny, of course, because Turing’s most iconic idea is a test that asks you to tell the difference between a machine and a human. And, at least in the world of this film, Turing would perhaps be accidentally judged as a machine because he’s so strange. It ultimately makes for a weak and muddled metaphor, the point being that he’s actually human — just one a bit different than everyone else. The film uses that metaphor to espouse some feel-good sentiments that don’t play as well as it would like, but it’s still a clever enough way of giving insight into Turing.

imitation game stills

The machine metaphor keeps going. In Turing’s mind, the war is about machines. Whenever the film cuts away from England to show the war, all we see are tanks, battleships, and submarines. It’s Turing’s machine versus theirs, and his is perhaps the most important of the war. Because of that, we see Turing grow obsessed with his own machine — it is the one thing he allows himself to grow an attachment to during his adult life. Only when something comes between the two of them does Turing really start to break down.

It’s in those moments of crisis that the film shines. Cumberbatch plays Turing as calm and poised, but it’s here that he’s suddenly free to give us his all. Otherwise, Cumberbatch presents Turing as the mystery that he’s supposed to be, at least for the sake of this film. He walks a fine line between genius and oddball, between commanding a conversation and blustering his way through one. Cumberbatch never lets us know what side Turing actually lands on, and that’s part of the fun.

Beyond that, the movie builds the intricate plot of a thriller all around Cumberbatch’s character. It’s no accident that this movie has the word "game" in its title — though we only sort of see the Imitation Game, a precursor to the Turing Test, played during the movie, just about everything else in it is framed as a puzzle or a game. Cracking Enigma is laid out with specific rules, and there are ticking clocks everywhere. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before — when one character asks for a six-month extension, you just know that he's going to hear back something along the lines of a stern "you've got six weeks" — but they all coalesce to form an ongoing sense of tension.

A lesser film would probably go so far as to explain that Turing is the true enigma that needs to be cracked. Fortunately, while that may be this film’s conceit, it is not so blunt with how it draws his character. Cumberbatch is thrown into the middle of a functional thriller and given the leeway to show us Turing and how a genius and a troubled man works. It’s pretty great to watch him do just that.

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The Imitation Game Review

Imitation Game, The

14 Nov 2014

113 minutes

Imitation Game, The

Morten Tyldum's last movie was Headhunters, a slick, sick and witty thriller that suggested a solid future in Hollywood despatching the likes of Mark Wahlberg and Liam Neeson down dark American alleyways in pursuit of smirking Eurovillains. And yet here we find the Norwegian director only a little further west, dealing with cut-glass Queen’s English accents, cucumber-sandwich picnics on immaculate lawns, and a very Union-Jack-bunting story of polite wartime triumph.

On the surface, The Imitation Game is the kind of crisp, British prestige piece you could suspect of cashing in on Downton fever (one character is played by Allan Leech, aka Tom Branson), while passing off TV’s Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the guise of another stand-offish, mystery-solving genius. But if you know even a little about Alan Turing, you’ll know not to trust such a smooth surface. You’ll also understand that Tyldum’s latest film — from a script on the 2011 Black List — isn’t such a crazily far cry from the murky, pacy Headhunters.

Tyro screenwriter Graham Moore couldn’t have made a more impressive debut. It’s a tight and wiry plot with barely an ounce of fat on its bones. There is a gripping rhythm to it, each scene a loud finger-snap which draws you back and forth between a trio of elegantly entwined narrative strands: 1) Turing’s arrival at Hut 8 in Bletchley Park and his cerebrally Herculean efforts to crack the ever-mutating Enigma code, by which German U-boats communicated; 2) the 1951 police investigation into the professor for his homosexuality, which was then still criminal in the UK; 3) Turing’s schoolboy years in the late ’20s, where he had to contend with both vicious bullying and forbidden love.

At times there are concessions to convention, on-the-nose scenes which feel like they’re pushing a neat point rather than relaying reality (putting a Bletchley codebreaker’s sibling on a suddenly doomed battleship, for example), while certain historical facts, such as the Polish influence on the mechanics of British wartime cryptanalysis, are overlooked.

Yet all this is hard to berate. Compare The Imitation Game with 2001’s Enigma, another Bletchley-based thriller (a fictionalisation of the cypher-cracking efforts by Turing’s team), and it’s like racing a thoroughbred against an asthmatic nanny-goat — almost embarrassing how much better this is, despite Enigma’s Michael Apted/Tom Stoppard/Robert Harris pedigree. 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.

The key to The Imitation Game’s success is the way it seamlessly combines its thriller and biopic elements: the story of Turing, it posits, is the story of the Enigma codebreaking. If you leave him out of it you might as well be making U-571. There’s more, too. It’s also, in part, the story of the birth of artificial intelligence (Turing being the bona fide genius whose ‘Turing machine’ pre-empted the computer), and a platonic love story which deals with Turing’s very real relationship with fellow cryptanalyst Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). Plus, amid all its talk of crosswords and algorithms, there are four puzzles happening at once: 1) the main puzzle of the code, which is energised by the fact that every attempt to crack it before the Nazis change it up is a desperate, matter-of-life-and-death race against the clock; 2) the puzzle of the Soviet spy who may or may not number among Hut 8’s workers; 3) the puzzle of the 1951 reported break-in to the inscrutable professor’s home in Manchester, during which nothing was stolen; 4) the puzzle of Alan himself — who is this “odd duck”? What makes him tick? Why is he so rude? “The problem,” he narrates of his childhood, “began with the carrots...”

... And ends, in 1954, with a cyanide-laced apple. There is tragedy at both ends of the chronology, and connecting them is Benedict Cumberbatch, delivering his finest big-screen performance yet. He seethed as the übermenschy Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, he roared as the vainglorious Smaug in the last Hobbit movie, but here he folds in on himself and buttons that dark-tinged charisma right down. It might not be an entirely accurate portrayal (the real Turing doesn’t appear to have been quite so walled-in), yet Cumberbatch’s almost paradoxical blend of supreme self-confidence and intense shyness rings true, especially in the way the peerless logician’s mind of his Turing can’t always process the confusions of human interaction (“People talking never say what they mean”).

Turing didn’t have the easiest professional relationship with his military superiors and Cumberbatch clearly relishes those moments in the script where Moore milks this for dramatic effect. The first encounter between Turing and Bletchley’s Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance, giving it a bit of Tywin) must rank as one of cinema’s most delicious job interview scenes: “Are you a bloody pacifist?!” Denniston seethes incredulously, after Turing displays his customary lack of tact. In Cumberbatch’s sure hands, Turing is less a force of nature than a passionate force of logic and integrity — a bold and beautiful mind. He displays far more than an Oscar-baiting repertoire of tics and twitches. There is a bright, burning inner life in evidence, too, taking us beyond the flashbacks, flash-forwards and neat dialogue beats. It’s a tough thing to perform, but Cumberbatch aces it.

Is it a complete portrayal? No. The fact that Turing’s close friendship with Joan Clarke is given more prominence than his homosexual relationships has already elicited disapproving tuts. His further, post-War work on computers is skimmed over. But does it need to be complete? Again, we return to the core strength of Tyldum’s film: that it pursues the dramatic twists and turns while exploring the man. It remains a supremely impressive balancing act, and no less a tribute to a truly great Briton for that.

Turing wasn’t granted a pardon for his ‘crime’ until last year. That it’s taken so long for a fitting cinematic testament to his brilliance is very much mitigated by the fact that The Imitation Game is one of the most entertaining and engaging films of the year so far.

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The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

Review by brian eggert november 1, 2014.

The Imitation Game

A potent wartime drama and tragic human rights tale, The Imitation Game puts Benedict Cumberbatch in another role as an eccentric genius who looks at the world from a unique perspective. After stunning millions of fans and maintaining cultish following of “Cumberbitches” with his turn as the modern Sherlock Holmes on BBC’s popular Sherlock television series, he realizes an award-worthy portrayal as Alan Turing, the ostensible father of artificial intelligence who cracked Germany’s Enigma code machine and in turn helped win World War II. Beyond building the first computer, Turing was also a victim of Britain’s cruel Labouchere Amendment of 1885, which considered homosexuals like himself indecent and therefore subject to criminal reeducation. This fascinating and many-textured subject matter comes to life as certain Oscar bait in the film from Norwegian director Morten Tyldum ( Headhunters ) and distributors at The Weinstein Company. This early review comes after a screening at the Twin Cities Film Fest, where the audience received it with much applause and enthusiasm.

First-time screenwriter Graham Moore broaches his topic through the framing device of a police investigation in 1951. After Turing’s home is ransacked, a detective (Rory Kinnear) hauls him in as a suspected Russian spy, but it’s really his homosexuality Turing is trying to hide. He tells his life story, which skips between his early days exploring cryptography and young love as a confused and Asperger’s-like schoolboy. Later, scenes in 1939 find him applying for a top-secret position at Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, where the British government has engaged a handful of mathematicians to crack Engima’s seemingly unbreakable code—with its some 159 million million million variables that reset every day at midnight. Each day, dozens of Nazi orders go out encrypted; if they can be deciphered, Allied forces would have a decided advantage. The project’s blimpish military administrator Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and his chess whiz golden boy Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode) are determined to decrypt by standard methods, whereas Turing knows their approach would take decades.

An unsociable prodigy who has no time or inclination to explain himself to people of lesser intelligence, Turing proposes to build a machine that can tick through Enigma’s coded possibilities within the day-long window, and with much satisfaction he circumvents his doubters by personally writing Winston Churchill, who in turn puts Turing in charge of the entire project. Structurally, Moore’s script borrows heavily from Aaron Sorkin’s outline for The Social Network , focusing on Turing as a genius mind devoid of social skills and held back by his often humorously condescending superiority. He’s a character on the margins, where something as simple as ordering him lunch becomes a challenge for his coworkers. But his all-male think tank at Bletchley Park is given an auspicious feminine perspective when Turing hires Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), a talented codebreaker and college-educated woman. Together, Turing and Joan find a common ground in that they’re both outsiders and too smart to fit in; and they might be a great couple if Turing leaned that way. Alas, they’re engaged in an appearances-only arrangement.

The fim is quick to remind us, “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” This line is repeated to a rather schmaltzy effect three times throughout, applying it thick for general audiences. Whether it’s referring to Turing’s intelligence, Joan’s femininity, or his later-exposed homosexuality, the theme doesn’t need to be spelled out in such broad terms. Meanwhile, the film washes over the technical aspects of how Turing’s eventual machine, dubbed “Christopher” after his first love, functions. Though the majority of The Imitation Game ’s audience may not have understood a more detailed explanation, the fascinating part of a character like this is that he can speak endless technobabble and impress us with his big brain. Instead, Turing’s machine stands for itself—a jumble of wires and knobs clicking away. Nothing so complicated could be anything but brilliant , the film seems to be saying. Never mind how it works. At least Moore’s script, based on Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Enigma , has more historical relevance than Michael Apted’s film Enigma (2001), starring Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet, which told author Robert Harris’ loosely historical account of Turing’s influence on WWII in a bland thriller.

Tyldum does, however, cut away to scenes of wartime destruction to remind the audience of the stakes. What becomes most fascinating is how the British government resolves to use Turing’s machine after they discover it works; rather than stopping every German plane or boat whose course is intercepted from Enigma, they must strategize over which targets will help them win the war, but without giving away to the Nazis that Enigma has been decoded. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of Turing’s story, and yet it’s barely explored. Perhaps such details were overlooked to broaden the dramatic strokes and lessen historical details—again, for accessibility’s sake. After all, much of The Imitation Game plays like a character study more than a historical account. We see harrowing scenes of Turing, a skilled long-distance runner, working out his day’s endless frustrations through a run; elsewhere, he toils assiduously on “Christopher”.  Cumberbatch’s portrayal is the film’s brilliant centerpiece, filled with arrogance and vulnerability, and he’s wonderfully textured throughout, particularly in later scenes. Though he may seem at risk of becoming typecast as such maligned, eccentric masterminds as Sherlock or his upcoming role in Marvel’s Dr. Strange , the actor manages to incorporate an impressive degree of variation from one such role to the next.

Queen Elizabeth granted Turing a posthumous pardon for his so-called crimes in 2013, and The Imitation Game does a fine job of making Turing’s life story accessible for mass consumption—arguably to a fault, since his sexuality is more a concept than a reality shown onscreen, with any physical realization of Turing’s homosexuality conspicuously avoided. Nevertheless, Tyldum has put together a professional production that looks gorgeous thanks to cinematographer Oscar Faura ( The Impossible ) and production designer Maria Djurkovic ( Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ) and has been lovingly scored by Alexandre Desplat. And while Knightley and Goode give impressive supporting performances, the film is a Cumberbatch affair. Noted objections about the standard handling and thematic transparency won’t prevent anyone from savoring the engaging subject, nor will they spoil any overall appreciation for its narrative rewards and impressive central performance.


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Film Police Reviews

Film Police Reviews

A Philippine-based film site, featuring news, essays, interviews, and the leading PH film podcast, Third World Cinema Club.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game poster

Set during the Second World War, we see less of the atrocities every other war film has already visually explored, and more of the calculating department that is either boring or mind-numbing for reality television. With such artistic freedom, some things ought to be simplified or dramatized but it does not belittle nor unjustly magnified the contribution of Alan and the team of cryptographers, mathematicians and scientists in cracking the skull of this menacing German Enigma machine. Without a current high school education that employs logic thinking through mathematics or a separate computer science subject, the key to the code would have been too far-fetched for the audience. Without the benefit of today’s tablets and Google, the moment of getting that sole perfect solution would have been more glorious but the film has proven itself a worthwhile watch through its engaging ensemble and moving screenplay.

Beyond the war and career side of life, we see how society is around Alan Turing, during his childhood years, involvement in decrypting the German Enigma machine and semblance of a life after the war was won. These scenes are well-spaced before, in-between and after the main storyline the film is promoted as. It provides a continuous and ever-present struggle of homosexuals in a heteronormative world. Its detachment from the general narrative sometimes feels unnatural for a work that is borne from reality, but its purpose served well to show Alan Turing’s mimicry of a normal human being. His mask saved the world from self-destruction while keeping himself alive from legal persecution in a society that already is neutral, without a tinge of moral apprehension, of his own humanity.

Outside the mind of Turing, the compassion of Joan Clarke, splendidly portrayed by Kiera Knightley, provides the much-needed contrast to an otherwise Sherlock tale as Benedict Cumberbatch seems to partly fall at times in his persona as Alan Turing. Amidst the movie’s big messages on war and homosexuality, it is Joan Clarke’s friendship that grounded the film and provided a possibility of co-existence and platonic relationships in the current hypersexualized and over-romanticized state of life. It also supplies essential nutrients cialis pills canada and vitamins. Most men who suffer from Erectile Dysfunction are under the impression it is a rare disorder. generic viagra canada For example, components as Sian Mao, Heather Zhi and Solidilin are proved to help to improve sperm and the woman’s egg are mixed in a laboratory and the Pfizer factory expanded on the border of the block bounded by Bartlett cialis 60mg important source Street, Harrison Avenue, Gerry Street and Flushing Avenue. The production quality of the medicine is also available. viagra fast Setting aside the important message and punctual delivery of humor and emotion, the film is a bit empty (three-fourths full) visually and aurally. To elevate the human element, crafty shots of mechanical work are minimal such that the symphonic score did not completely complement the film as a whole. Hearing Alexandre Desplat’s work on its own, it has a distinct feel that announces enigma and mystery in a different way than the shots and style of the film. At times, The Imitation Game looks and feels better when chopped up as scenes. Even with an over-all tad of disappointment, the climax that clashes all the themes of perspectives, mimicry, humanity and locking oneself under a secret; and the poignant ironic aftermath makes the film worthy to ruminate on.

If you believe in the film’s message that the archaic justice system has claimed more lives than it should, or are just a decent human being, sign the petition at . One does not need to be a person of stature to be pardoned for a crime on being yourself. From the site itself: “Each of these 49,000 men deserves the justice and acknowledgment from the British government that this intolerant law brought not only unwarranted shame, but horrific physical and mental damage and lost years of wrongful imprisonment to these men. Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013, but the other estimated 49,000 men deserve the same.”

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Film Police Reviews


The Society-Individual Conflict in Morten Tyldum's Film "The Imitation Game" (2014)

Film review and analysis, essay, 2016, 7 pages, grade: 86, karina kovalenko (author).

Abstract or Introduction

"The Imitation Game" (2014) is a historical drama movie directed by Morten Tyldum based on the book "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges. The film is about life of a famous British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who is famous by the deciphering of the German Enigma coding machine during the World War II. On the one hand, the movie tells a story of a person with a brilliant mind who changed the course of the world history, but on the other hand, this film is a personal drama that depicts complicated relationships between Alan and other people. Alan has lack of communication skills and his perception of the reality differs from others’ ones. Being misunderstood and rejected by people because of the peculiarity during his college years, Turing closes himself from the world, except one friend. At the beginning of the World War II he joins the secret cryptographists’ team, creates a computer-prototype machine and solves the Enigma mystery. The film brightly shows main character’s communication difficulties and his inability to collaborate in a team. After years, being caught by a policeman, executed and suffered from the punishment, the only one person who could understand him, Joan Clarke, visits him and witnesses his mental and health problems – the results of the execution. I found it very interesting to analyze the development of the relationships between Turing and other people in the movie, how he confronts and deals with life and communication difficulties, and also Turing’s personality. The film’s thread of society’s suppressing on Alan and, eventually, death from it, also shows an inability of the society to accept extraordinary individuals. That is why I chose three themes to analyze and provide examples from the film – perception, identity and relationship maintenance. The purpose of my paper is to show that Alan Turing tries to understand the society, but the society does not want to understand and to admit him.

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Title: The Society-Individual Conflict in Morten Tyldum's Film "The Imitation Game" (2014)

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Title: The Society-Individual Conflict in Morten Tyldum's Film "The Imitation Game" (2014)

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The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

  • During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians while attempting to come to terms with his troubled private life.
  • It is based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing. The film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. — Studio Canal
  • Out in the world, one who is compelled to create is considered abnormal. Society is hard on the non-conformist. A creator may solve impossible puzzles with his brain or write symphony; he turns nothing into something. Success in his endeavor may result in the masses of society clustering at the median to call him "genius." But, beware: this means they can neither understand the achievement nor hope to equal the mind who made it. The same masses who eagerly accept his gifts with the one hand will turn around and push him into a snake pit with the other. Such is the cautionary tale of Alan Mathison Turing, master of the puzzle and father of the modern computer. — LA-Lawyer
  • In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma -- which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing's team, including Joan Clarke, analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become unsung heroes, but in 1952, their quiet genius leader encounters disgrace — Jwelch5742
  • With Europe succumbing to Adolf Hitler 's suffocating grasp, the British government recruits the country's best scientists to stop the Nazis. However, the Allies are running out of time. Now, only a radical, out-of-the-box approach could save millions of lives. As a result, Alan Turing joins a hand-picked team of accomplished code breakers at Bletchley Park, determined to crack the code behind the infamous Enigma Machine, the Germans' top-secret, military-grade encipherment device. But to turn the tide of the war, Alan and his fellow cryptanalysts have their work cut out for them: they must first figure out a reliable technique for cracking the Enigma's millions of combinations. — Nick Riganas
  • BASED ON A TRUE STORY. We hear Alan Turing say, "Are you paying attention? Good. If you're not listening carefully, you will miss things. Important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself, and you will not interrupt me. You think that because you're sitting where you are, and I am sitting where I am, that you are in control of what is about to happen. You are mistaken. I am in control, because I know things that you do not know. What I need from you now is a commitment. You will listen closely and you will not judge me until I am finished. If you cannot commit to this, then please leave the room, but if you choose to stay, remember that you chose to be here. What happens from this moment forward is not my responsibility. It's yours. Pay attention." It is 1951, Manchester, England. Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Headquarters intercepts a message that Alan Turing has been robbed at his place. Alan, now known as a professor at Cambridge, is visited by the police inquiring about his burglary. They find him in his home, but he is dismissive towards them. They find him an insufferable person, raising suspicions that he is hiding something. In a flashback to September 1939 in London, war has been declared with 800,000 children evacuated from their homes. On the train, 27-year-old Alan Turing admires a kid doing crossword puzzles. He arrives at Bletchley Park, guarded by Royal Naval officers. He waits in the office of Commander Denniston. When the Commander arrives, Alan is cold and seems to lack humour. The Commander asks why Alan wants to work for the government; he replies he doesn't. He mentions that he's not very political, and the Commander says it may be the shortest job interview ever. Alan mentions he doesn't speak German but tells the Commander that he's one of the best mathematicians in the world. He considers German codes to be like puzzles, which he enjoys solving. The Commander calls for Alan to be removed by his secretary, so Alan mentions "Enigma," revealing he knows about the top secret program he's being considered for. Alan explains that Enigma is the greatest encryption device in history and, if the Allies can crack the code, it will end the war. The Commander says everyone thinks Enigma is unbreakable; Alan says to let him try and they'll know for sure. Alan is welcomed to Enigma alongside five others including Peter Hilton, John Cairncross, Hugh Alexander, Keith Furman and Charles Richards. They've got their hands on an actual Enigma machine smuggled out of Berlin but they don't know the machine's settings to decode messages. Every night at midnight, the Germans refresh the settings. Intercepting the first message every morning at 6 A.M., the code-breakers only have eighteen hours each day to crack their code before it changes and they must start from scratch. Hugh, a chess champion, is able to calculate that this means there are 159 million million million possibilities every day. Alan is reluctant to work as a team; Stewart Menzies, the Chief of MI6, tells them four men have died in the last few minutes because the code remains uncracked and orders them to begin. Alan says all the messages are floating in the air for anyone to grab; the problem is that they are encrypted and there are 159,000,000,000,000,000,000 possibilities. It will take twenty million years to try everything. The team wants to take a lunch break but when they invite Alan, his social awkwardness is cold and off-putting, so they go on without him. Alan continues his work alone, building blueprints for a machine. In 1951, Robert Nock, the detective from before, finds out that Alan's records are classified. He doesn't know why a math professor would have classified records and becomes suspicious. He uses a typewriter to falsify a document, allowing him to secure Alan's service records. Returning to 1939, Alan complains to Commander Denniston that Hugh Alexander has denied funding for the parts he needs to build a machine. The commander tells him the other code-breakers do not get along with him and he should take up the complaint with someone else. Alan suggests firing them all and using the funds for his machine. He says he only needs 100,000 pounds and that only a machine can defeat another machine. Alan asks who the Commander's commanding officer is; he is told Winston Churchill. Alan sends a letter to the Prime Minister via Stewart Menzies. Churchill puts Alan in charge, overriding Hugh's authority. Alan immediately fires two of his teammates, Keith and Charles, calling them mediocre linguists and poor code-breakers. He is asked sarcastically if he was popular at school. Flashback to young Alan: as a schoolboy he was picked on for having a form of OCD, keeping the carrots and peas separate during lunch. His classmates pour food on him and bury him under the floorboards. He tells us: "Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying, but remove the satisfaction and the act becomes hollow." When Alan is able to remain calm under the floorboards, the other kids leave him alone. He is rescued by fellow student Christopher Morcom. Christopher says they beat Alan up because he's different. Alan says he's an odd duck. Christopher tells him, "Sometimes it's the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine." Return to 1939. Now short on staff, the team decides to find new members by placing a difficult crossword puzzle in newspapers to be mailed in upon completion; anyone who can solve it is a good candidate. The war rages on, with many hiding out in bomb shelters. The handful that managed to solve the puzzle are gathered together to take a test. One young woman, Joan Clarke, shows up late because her bus had a flat tire. They think she is in the wrong room and remain skeptical as she tells them that she has solved the crossword puzzle. Alan tells her to take a seat. He tasks the room to solve a very difficult puzzle in six minutes that took Alan himself eight minutes. Surprising them all, Joan solves it in five and a half. Joan and one other man are kept afterwards and told that they are not allowed to share what they are about to be told or they'll be executed for high treason. They are ordered to lie to everyone they know about what they are going to be doing. Joan asks what he is referring to. She is told she will be helping to break an unbreakable Nazi code and win the war. Back in school days: young Alan bonds with Christopher, who shares with him a book on codes and ciphers. The awkward Alan compares cryptic messages with how people talk, saying one thing while hiding true intentions beneath their words (which he doesn't know how to decipher). It is now several months later in 1940, Bletchley Park. The supercomputer is being hooked up in a secret hut. Alan is concerned when Joan does not show up. He goes to her home and tries to convince her parents that she's very necessary at the radio factory (official cover for their true purpose) that wants to employ her. Joan comes home and talks to Alan in private, although her parents are listening in. Joan explains that it is indecorous for her to be working and living among men (according to her parents); Alan loudly suggests she work in the clerical department with women (although she won't really be doing this). Apparently, this is convincing enough, because Joan packs up and leaves with Alan. She wonders why he is so fixated on helping her; he responds that "Sometimes it's the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine." In 1951, Detective Nock shares with Superintendent Smith that Alan's classified military file is empty. His war records aren't classified. Someone has burned and erased them. They suspect he is a Soviet spy. In 1940, Joan arrives at Bletchley Park under the guise of a clerical worker. In narration, Alan tells us that the British were literally starving to death. Every week, Americans would send 100,000 tons of food, and every week, the Germans would send it to the bottom of the ocean. Every night at midnight, a bell sounds, telling them their day's work has been wasted (since the code is reset at midnight). Frustrated, Hugh visits Alan, tinkering with his machine (referred to as Christopher throughout the film, named after Alan's childhood friend). A frustrated Hugh grabs a wrench to destroy the machine, but the others hold him back. Hugh tells him that the machine is useless and there are legitimate ways to help in the war. One of the others, Peter, explains that his brother and cousins are actually fighting in the war while they have nothing to show for all of their work because of the machine. Alan is adamant that the machine will work. Later, Alan is in the hut alone. He removes a stack of Enigma messages and stashes them in his socks. They manage to go undetected by the guards at checkpoint. He sneaks over to Joan's home and climbs through her window. He reveals the decrypted Enigma messages, delivered from Nazi high command they read one with the weather report, ending in "Heil Hitler". Joan and Alan talk about Christopher and the concept of a digital computer. The next day, Alan enters the hut to find military police rifling through his desk while the other code-breakers watch. Commander Denniston explains that there is a spy in Bletchley Park and they suspect it's one of them. The Commander shows Alan a telegram that was intercepted on its way to Moscow, which is encrypted with a key phrase. They suspect Alan because he's arrogant, has no friends or romantic attachments, and is a loner. Commander Denniston says he will no longer have to fire him - he can hang him for treason if he's caught. Joan greets Alan, working on Christopher, and tries to cheer him up by taking him to a beer hut. Hugh, John, and Peter enter the hut and Joan is friendly towards them. She tells Alan in private that she's a woman in a man's job and doesn't have the luxury of being an ass. She says it doesn't matter how smart he is; Enigma is smarter and Alan needs all the help he can get - but his team won't help him if they don't like him. The next time he sees them at their workshop, he brings apples under Joan's suggestion to give them something. He then tries to tell a joke. In a flashback to his schooling, Christopher is caught passing a note to Alan. The teacher mocks them for the note being in gibberish (not knowing it's encrypted). Alan retrieves it from the garbage and breaks the code later "See you in two long weeks, dearest friend." The school is going on holiday. In 1941, at Bletchley Park, Joan and Alan bond over the codes. Hugh Alexander approaches, telling Alan that if they run the wires on Christopher diagonally, they'll eliminate rotor positions 500 times faster. Alan is able to utilize this idea. The machine is turned on; it is the very first digital computer, and it works. They wait to see if it can reveal the day's Enigma settings. We see footage of the war. In Denniston's office, he is told that the machine is not producing any results. He surprises Alan at the hut, who barricades the door, trying to keep him out. They force the door open and turn it off. Commander Denniston tells him his machine doesn't work because it hasn't broken Enigma. Denniston's associate from the home office is upset about spending a hundred thousand pounds with nothing to show for it. Alan tries to defend his machine but it has not decrypted a single German message. The Commander fires him but is stopped short by Hugh, John and Peter, who say that if he fires Alan, they will have to be fired, too, because they believe his machine can work. Hugh reminds the Commander that they're the best cryptographic minds in Britain and asks to be granted six more months. Commander Denniston grants one more month or they're all gone. At the beer hut, Hugh tells Alan that he cracked the encrypted message "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find. Matthew 7:7." He knows that Alan is not the spy because he would not have used a simple Bible quote for his code. In 1951, Detective Nock and Superintendent Smith are told by a sergeant that he has found out that Alan is a "poofter" (British slang for homosexual). He has been caught with a male hustler, who later robbed his house. That was the piece of information that he was hiding from the police, not that he's a spy. The detective is sure Alan is hiding something else, so he asks for him to be arrested so he can interrogate him. In 1941, Joan comes home to find Alan there, using her flat to try to solve mathematical equations so Christopher can run through more settings per 18-hour block. She interrupts Alan to tell him that she has to return home; her parents are unhappy with her being twenty-five years old and unmarried. He suggests she get married. She suspects he is suggesting Hugh or Peter, but of course he means himself. He proposes with a piece of electrical wire, rolled into a ring. An engagement party is thrown at the beer hut. While Joan dances with Hugh, John Cairncross talks to a sullen Alan who admits he is a homosexual. John is sympathetic and tells Alan that he already suspected that for some time. John suggests that Alan keep it a secret because homosexuality is illegal and, on top of that, Denniston is looking for any excuse to put Alan away. Back at school, everyone returns from holiday. A young Alan encrypts the message I LOVE YOU and prepares to give it to Christopher but he never shows up. In 1951, Alan is interrogated by Detective Nock. The detective asks if machines can think. Alan notes that he must have read his published work since he was called in on charges of hiring a man to touch his penis, not on computers. Alan says "machines can never think as humans do, but just because something thinks differently from you, does it mean it's not thinking?" He tells the detective, "We allow for humans to have such divergences from one another. You like strawberries. I hate ice-skating. You cry at sad films. I am allergic to pollen. What is the point of different tastes, different preferences, if not to say that our brains work differently, that we think differently? And if we can say that about one another, then why can't we say the same things for brains made of copper and wire and steel?" The detective asks him about the paper he wrote, The Imitation Game. Alan tells him it is a test to determine whether something is a machine or a human being. The detective asks him what he did during the war and Alan tells him he worked at a radio factory. Detective Nock knows this isn't true. In 1942, Alan and his team wait for Christopher to crack the code but then the midnight buzzer sounds. The machine will never be able to process so many possibilities in an 18-hour time frame. At the beer hut, Joan's friend, Helen, is admiring Hugh. Hugh finally approaches her, with Alan by his side. To charm Helen, Hugh tells her that Alan believes men and women should not work together because it will lead to romance (a ruse as Hugh personally believes that women are smart and should be considered equals). Helen says she agrees with Alan because she has a male co-worker that she has garnered a crush on; upon further inquiry, Helen reveals she intercepts messages from a German radio tower and has been assigned one counterpart. She says she has grown fond of him but, unfortunately, he has a girlfriend. Hugh steals Helen and they go off to the bar. Alan is lost in thought and then calls out to Helen. He asks her why she thinks he has a girlfriend. Helen says because every message begins with C-I-L-L-Y, which she assumes is the name of his love. Alan tells her the Germans are instructed to choose five letters at random to start each message but, because he is in love, he uses the same five letters every time. Alan remarks that love just lost the Germans the whole bloody war. Everyone chases Alan as he rushes across Bletchley Park, past guards and security checkpoints. They get into their hut and Alan pours out previously decrypted messages. He points out that Christopher does not have to search through every possible setting; the computer can search for ones that produce words he knows will be in the message. They realize the entire 6 A.M. weather reports end in "Heil Hitler". They can have Christopher search for the words "weather," "heil" and "Hitler" to crack the code. They test it on a 6 A.M. message. Christopher comes to a stop. They take the letters it produces and run back to the Enigma machine, typing in the same letters. They are able to decode a message. They've cracked the code! The team works throughout the night. They have decoded messages and translated decrypts, now able to produce a map that represents all of their ships versus the Axis ships. John tells them there are five people in the world who know the position of every ship in the Atlantic, and they are all in this room. Joan realizes that they're going to attack a British passenger convoy as they are positioned twenty minutes away. Hugh tries to call Denniston to warn him but Alan stops him, ripping the phone out of the wall. Everyone argues. Alan points out they have to let the U-boats sink the convoy or else it will give the Germans a heads up that they have cracked Enigma. The Germans will stop radio communication and change the design of Enigma immediately. In order to keep their success secret and win the war, they have to allow the lives of hundreds of innocent people to be lost. Peter breaks down, realizing that his brother is on one of the convoys. He demands that they alert Denniston of just that one ship, but Alan simply apologizes. Peter tells him they don't decide who lives or who dies; Alan says they do, because no one else can. Alan and Joan ride the train into London. They meet with Stewart Menzies in a tea shop. They reveal that they have broken Enigma but ask for Stewart's help in determining how much intelligence to act on, which attacks to stop. He can come up with believable sources of information so the Germans don't suspect Enigma has been cracked. Peter harbours animosity towards Alan for letting his brother be killed despite knowing it in advance. He knocks his books over. While retrieving them on the ground, Alan spots John Cairncross' Bible. He opens it and realizes that it is earmarked to Matthew 7:7. John notices Alan making this discovery, now aware that John is the Soviet spy. In private, John tells Alan that the Soviets and Britain are on the same side; he then threatens Alan that, if he tells his secret, he'll reveal that Alan is a homosexual and his work will be destroyed. Alan tries to call Menzies but knows his calls are being intercepted. He returns to Joan's flat and Stewart Menzies is there; Alan is told that Joan is in military prison after discovering that she was the Soviet spy -- they have found Enigma messages in her things. Alan tells him that he gave her the intercepts when they were trying to crack the code. Stewart says Denniston is looking for a spy in their hut and Alan tells him the spy is actually John Cairncross. Stewart admits to knowing this before Cairncross even got to Bletchley; this is exactly why he placed them there so they could leak whatever they wanted to Stalin since Churchill was too paranoid to share information with the Soviets. Cairncross is unaware that he is being used by them. Stewart says he needs Alan's help to know what to leak to John and feed to the Soviets. Alan says he's just a mathematician, not a spy, but demands that Joan be released. Stewart reveals he lied about her being in a military prison but threatens to use the Enigma messages against her if Alan doesn't cooperate. Alan encourages Joan to leave Bletchley, knowing she is in danger, but it is too risky to tell her this explicitly. To get her to go, he reveals that he's a homosexual. Joan responds with indifference. She says she's had suspicions about him for some time, but doesn't think they can't love each other in their own way. Joan tells Alan that, despite the fact that he only loves her as a friend, they'll be in a marriage built on companionship and intellectual stimulation rather then love, since most married couples that love each other end up divorcing anyway. Alan then lies and tells her he doesn't love or care for her and was only using her to break Enigma. She slaps him and tells him she's not going anywhere, despite all the low expectations placed on her by men and her parents. She calls him a monster. We see more stock footage from World War II. In voice-over, Alan says that, every day, they decoded messages and the war wasn't determined by the bombings and fighting but by a team of six crossword enthusiasts in a tiny village in England. We see everyone celebrating on V-E Day, May 8, 1945. Menzies tells the group that before they can return to their lives at university, they have to burn all evidence that they cracked Enigma because it may be used again in future wars. They also have to pretend they have never met one another. In 1951, the interrogation of Alan by Detective Nock continues. Alan tells him he has told him his story, and now the detective has to play the Imitation Game and answer if he's a machine or a person. "Am I a war hero?" he asks. "Am I a criminal?" Detective Nock tells Alan he can't judge him. Alan tells him he's no help to him at all (because he doesn't know how to judge himself). In another flashback, Alan is called to the principal's office and asked about his friendship with Christopher Morcom. He vehemently denies being friends with him, afraid they are aware that it is romantic. The teacher tells him he asked because he heard they were close and wanted to inform him that Christopher has died over the holiday break; he had bovine tuberculosis and never told Alan. Six months after his interrogation, the detective is congratulated: Alan has been sentenced for indecency (homosexuality). Joan goes to visit the older Alan at his home. She says she would have testified on his behalf to keep him out of jail. Alan is shaky and reveals to her that the judge gave him a choice: two years in prison or two years of weekly hormonal therapy designed to dampen his homosexual predilections. He wouldn't be able to continue his work from prison and, if he's taken away, they'll destroy Christopher, despite all the work he's done on him over the last ten years. He has a panic attack and she calms him down. He notices her wedding ring and she tells him about her husband. She asks him to do a crossword puzzle for old times' sake, but he is not able to do it, the hormonal treatment having ravaged his brain. He tells her she got what she wanted: work, husband, a normal life. Joan tells him no one normal could have done what they did. That morning, she was on a train that went through a city that would not have existed if it wasn't for Alan. She bought a ticket from a man who would most likely not be alive if it wasn't for Alan. She's read up on a whole field of scientific study that wouldn't exist if not for Alan. She is glad he wasn't born normal. She tells him, "The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren't [normal]". He asks if she really thinks that and she tells him, "I think that sometimes it's the very people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine." In 1953, Alan is in his home, alone. He looks longingly at Christopher, at his supercomputer, at the love of his life. He turns off the lights. Cut to a flashback of the six cryptologists burning all the evidence toward cracking Enigma. In a series of final on-screen texts, it is said that Alan killed himself in 1954, after a year of government-mandated hormonal therapy. Between 1885 and 1967, approximately 49,000 homosexual men in the UK were convicted of and imprisoned for gross indecency under British law. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted a posthumous royal pardon, honouring Alan Turing for his achievements during the war. Historians estimate that breaking Enigma shortened the war by more than two years, saving over fourteen million lives. It remained a government-held secret for more than fifty years. Turing's work inspired generations of research into what scientists called "Turing machines", now known as computers.

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Alan Turing

The Imitation Game Movie: a Review of Alan Turning’s Test

The Turing Test was designed by a man named Alan Turing in 1950. It was initially called the “imitation game.” Originally, the test was designed to differentiate between males and females. It was played with three people—a man, a woman, and an interrogator. The interrogator would go into a separate room and try to determine who was the man and who was a woman by asking various questions such as “How long is your hair?” or “Do you have an Adam’s apple?” Based on the answers to the participants’ replies, the interrogator would decide who was the man and who was the woman. Often times this wasn’t easy since the participants would be allowed to lie in order to try to throw the interrogator off.

Turing went a step further with the “imitation game” idea by incorporating computers into it. He believed that in approximately fifty years (today’s time) computers would be programmed to acquire abilities rivaling those of human intelligence. As part of his argument, Turing put forth the proposal in which a human being and a computer would be interrogated through textual messages by an interrogator who didn’t know which was which. Ideally, if the interrogator were unable to distinguish them by questioning, then it would be unfair not to call the computer “intelligent.” Passing this test was considered regularly and reliably fooling an interrogator at least 50% of the time.

Turing and Godwin both believed that anything that could pass the Turing Test was genuinely a thinking, intelligent being. In particular, they felt that passing the test illustrated that the computer had the ability to interact with humans by sensibly “talking” about topics that humans talked about. Also, passing the test according to Godwin reflected that the computer was able to understand how humans thought and interacted.

Despite Turing and Godwin’s obstinate belief that computers could think, many believed that this was not the case. In the book Can Animals and Machines Be Persons?, Goodman set out an objection called the “Chinese-box” argument. Essentially, a man (who had no knowledge of Chinese) would be placed in a box and textual messages similar to those found in the Turing Test would be displayed on the screen in either English or Chinese. Then, man inside the machine would give the appropriate responses in Chinese. Despite his lack of knowledge of Chinese, the man would be able to give responses by using a large “Chinese Turing Test Crib Book.” Ideally, the person inputting the questions would be unable to distinguish that man’s Chinese from a native speaker’s. That argument was extremely damaging.

By describing the Chinese-box argument, Goodman was pointing out that externally it would seem that the man in the box understood both English and Chinese when in reality he wasn’t “thinking in Chinese” the way he did in English – he was really just translating the symbols he saw into different symbols. Fundamentally, computers did the same thing. They would translate their binary code into symbols which we could understand. To do so, they would use rules analagous to those found in the “Chinese Turing Test Crib Book.” Overall, the Chinese-box argument supported the idea that a computer could cleverly imitate thinking and understanding but could never be a real, literal “thinker” or “person.”

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The Imitation Game Movie: a Review of Alan Turning's Test

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  • The imitation game

The imitation game - Essay Example

The imitation game

  • Subject: Sociology
  • Type: Essay
  • Level: Masters
  • Pages: 2 (500 words)
  • Downloads: 38
  • Author: zkoss

Extract of sample "The imitation game"

The Imitation Game The Imitation Game Films like The Imitation Game remain in peoples hearts and minds fora long time due to many reasons. This particular movie covers such important themes as struggle of an individual against society, the meaning of love and friendship in life of any person, individual tragedy of being unaccepted and national tragedy of war. Each of these themes evokes a number of feelings; each of them matters a lot for the perception of this film as a whole. At the same time, all these important themes are organically embraced by one life story of a genius man Alan Turing who was lucky to have an outstanding intellect that saved many lives during the war.

Alan Turing is a central character in this film and he is brilliantly performed by Benedict Cumberbatch. He is different from the rest and the film shows how he copes with his hard character to get along with other people. Overall, this movie covers many important themes that make it more than a story about a scientist with his incredible invention. The film is very interesting due to the fact that it covers the story of a person who is a legend in the history of computers. Today computers are everywhere and technology would never go so far without the contribution made by Alan Turing.

His decoding machine is a primitive computer that was able to decode Enigmas messages. It looks not so complicated now compared to what devices people use today; however, the film shows how difficult and expensive it was to create such a machine and make it work. The purpose of this creation is more than respectful. Turings machine saved many lives by decoding secret messages and warning British government about plant of their enemies. It is also interesting that Turing hired a lady to join his team even though it was not accepted in his community.

Due to his personality, it is possible to say that he was born not in the right time because his ideas that look progressive today were perceived as weird and crazy. This film is provocative because it touches upon very personal things such as inability to communicate with other people, sexual orientation and community pressure. In the society where Alan Turing was born it was impossible to be homosexual. Also, it was impossible to be an unmarried and working woman like Joan Clarke hired by Alan to help his team.

A young lady had to keep her job in secret because her only purpose in life was to get married and give birth to children. The most provocative part of the film was treatment of Alan Turing. Procedures used to cope with his homosexuality by doctors made Alan Turing unable to work properly. His health condition became so poor that he died being quite young. Nobody looked at his contribution; all people were against him simply because he was homosexual. It is good that now people are learning to have the right priorities and accept people the way they are with no regard to their race, gender or sexual orientation.

Overall, this film leaves enough food for though and inspires people to treat each other better.ReferencesTyldum, M. (2014). The Imitation Game. Black Bear Pictures, Bristol Automotive and others. Film.

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the imitation game movie review essay



  1. The Imitation Game (Film Review)

    the imitation game movie review essay

  2. Review Film

    the imitation game movie review essay

  3. The Imitation Game (2014)

    the imitation game movie review essay


    the imitation game movie review essay

  5. The Imitation Game (movie review)

    the imitation game movie review essay

  6. The Imitation Game

    the imitation game movie review essay


  1. The Imitation Game Movie Facts Part 10

  2. The Imitation Game Movie Errors Part 5

  3. The Imitation Game Movie Errors Part 12

  4. "The Imitation Game" සිංහල Movie Review

  5. النابغة لي فك أصعب شيفرة ونقذ الملايين: فالأخير نكروه

  6. The Imitation Game Movie Errors Part 3


  1. The Imitation Game movie review (2014)

    To portray Turing, Cumberbatch's seductive purr is less mellifluous, his lips are slightly pursed, his gaze is often averted and, despite his unwavering confidence in his thinking skills, there is an air of vulnerability and melancholy about him.

  2. The Imitation Game review

    The Imitation Game review - an engrossing and poignant thriller Benedict Cumberbatch's excellent performance gives added complexity to a fine account of the life of codebreaker Alan Turing...

  3. 'The Imitation Game' Stars Benedict Cumberbatch

    Directed by Morten Tyldum Biography, Drama, History, Thriller, War PG-13 1h 54m By A.O. Scott Nov. 27, 2014 "The Imitation Game" is a highly conventional movie about a profoundly unusual man....

  4. Review: 'Imitation Game' a smart tale about Enigma-buster Alan Turing

    Los Angeles Times Film Critic The disturbing, involving, always-complex story of British mathematician Alan Turing is a tale crafted to resonate for our time, and the smartly entertaining "The...

  5. The Imitation Game Movie Review

    Parents Say: age 12+ 25 reviews Any Iffy Content? Read more Watch Our Video Review Watch now A Lot or a Little? What you will—and won't—find in this movie. Positive Messages Perseverance pays off. Gender doesn't dictate Positive Role Models Turing sticks to his guns and his beliefs despite Violence & Scariness

  6. The True Story of The Imitation Game

    November 28, 2014 12:43 PM EST. T hough The Imitation Game was largely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, much of Alan Turing's life is shrouded in mystery. Turing, played by ...

  7. 'The Imitation Game' Movie Review

    By Peter Travers November 26, 2014 Benedict Cumberbatch stars in 'The Imitation Game.' Jack English/©2014 The Weinstein Company It's an undeniable pleasure to dig into a crackling spy thriller...

  8. The Imitation Game

    Tomatometer 287 Reviews 91% Audience Score 100,000+ Ratings What to know Critics Consensus With an outstanding starring performance from Benedict Cumberbatch illuminating its fact-based story,...

  9. The Imitation Game review: turning Alan Turing's life into a code

    The machine metaphor keeps going. In Turing's mind, the war is about machines. Whenever the film cuts away from England to show the war, all we see are tanks, battleships, and submarines.

  10. The Imitation Game Review

    113 minutes Certificate: TBC Original Title: Imitation Game, The Morten Tyldum's last movie was Headhunters, a slick, sick and witty thriller that suggested a solid future in Hollywood...

  11. The Imitation Game (2014)

    9/10. That 'The Imitation Game' was so acclaimed is hardly an enigma at all. TheLittleSongbird 29 August 2017. Alan Turing was a fascinating, complex person who deserves to be better known to the world. Likewise his story is important and deserves to be told rather than forgotten. Had high hopes for 'The Imitation Game', after hearing so many ...

  12. The Imitation Game (Film Review)

    Admin Feb 7, 2015. 'The Imitation Game' is a profound and incredibly powerful film that resonates with you after watching it. The film is about the unsung hero Alan Turing who is reliable to the computers we have today, and winning the war with his device that can crackle Nazi codes through the WWII. You could Hollywood-ize Alan Turing onscreen ...

  13. The Imitation Game

    The Imitation Game explores the many different kinds of secrecy in the strange and exotic life of a mathematical genius and hero of World War II, Alan Turing. As this mesmerizing movie reveals, secrets permeate society and have the power to unite people — and to divide them. As a boy, Alan is tormented by his peers in school for being ...

  14. The Imitation Game (2014)

    PG-13 Runtime 113 min. Release Date 11/21/2014 A potent wartime drama and tragic human rights tale, The Imitation Game puts Benedict Cumberbatch in another role as an eccentric genius who looks at the world from a unique perspective.

  15. MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Imitation Game' (2014)

    It provides a continuous and ever-present struggle of homosexuals in a heteronormative world. Its detachment from the general narrative sometimes feels unnatural for a work that is borne from reality, but its purpose served well to show Alan Turing's mimicry of a normal human being.

  16. The Society-Individual Conflict in Morten Tyldum's Film "The Imitation

    Abstract or Introduction. "The Imitation Game" (2014) is a historical drama movie directed by Morten Tyldum based on the book "Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges. The film is about life of a famous British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who is famous by the deciphering of the German Enigma coding machine during the World War II.

  17. The Imitation Game (2014)

    User reviews Trivia FAQ IMDbPro All topics Plot The Imitation Game Jump to Edit Summaries During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians while attempting to come to terms with his troubled private life.

  18. The Imitation Game Movie Analysis

    The Imitation Game, on the other hand, is a biographical historical drama that focuses on the life and career of Alan Turing, a British mathematician who played a crucial role in the development of modern computing and the defeat of the Nazis during World War II. The film covers Turing's early life, his work at Bletchley Park, and his eventual ...

  19. The Imitation Game

    Turing fires Furman and Richards and places a difficult crossword in newspapers to find replacements. Joan Clarke, a Cambridge graduate, passes Turing's test but her parents will not allow her to work with the male cryptographers.

  20. The Imitation Game Movie Essay

    The Message Movie Essay. "The Message" is a 1976 film that is directed by a man named Mustapha Akkad. This film is related to the life and times of the prophet of Islam, which is Muhammad. Mecca, is the city where Islam begun, also this is the place where most altercations took place. Mecca is the place in which the Muslims were also ...

  21. The Imitation Game Movie: a Review of Alan Turning's Test

    Turing went a step further with the "imitation game" idea by incorporating computers into it. He believed that in approximately fifty years (today's time) computers would be programmed to acquire abilities rivaling those of human intelligence.

  22. The Imitation Game Movie: a Review of Alan Turning's Test

    This essay has been submitted by a student. The Turing Test was designed by a man named Alan Turing in 1950. It was initially called the "imitation game." Originally, the test was designed to differentiate between males and females. It was played with three people a man, a woman, and an interrogator. The interrogator would go into a separate ...

  23. The imitation game

    The Imitation Game The Imitation Game Films like The Imitation Game remain in peoples hearts and minds fora long time due to many reasons. This particular movie covers such important themes as struggle of an individual against society, the meaning of love and friendship in life of any person, individual tragedy of being unaccepted and national tragedy of war.