The Imitation Game

Rated: PG-13

        I can’t remember exactly when I first saw the trailers for The Imitation Game, but I think it was sometime in the spring of 2014. I thought it looked pretty interesting, but not quite interesting enough to see in the theater. My husband, on the other hand, was very excited to see it. He’s a computer programmer and thought it about time they made a movie about the man who most consider the father of programming and THE pioneer of computer science.

                The Imitation Game is about Alan Turing, but it’s not only about him. Its also about how he and a group of other “super minds” broke the German Enigma Machine Codes during World War II, thus shortening the war and saving countless lives. Its almost like there are two stories in one, and while intertwined they could pretty easily be separated into separate films. One is about the code breakers and their quest to defeat the Germans, the other is Turing’s biopic.

                Unlike the other biopics I’ve reviewed, it was pretty easy to find info on the work of Turing, but it was VERY difficult to find anything about the man behind the work. What I did manage to find was heartbreaking. Up until 1967 Great Britain prosecuted male homosexuals and either sent them to prison or chemically castrated them by “treating” them with estrogen pills and implants. It turns out that Turing was one such case. 

        After his home was ransacked by a former lover, Turing contacted the police. He lied to them in an effort to hide his homosexuality, stating that the robber was a disgruntled student of his, or something like that. Later, when the police questioned him again, he couldn’t remember the lies he told them the first time and so, realizing the bind he was in, he confessed. Since he was seen as a national asset, sending him to prison was not really an option because he couldn’t continue his work from there. The judge therefore ordered him to undergo this barbaric estrogen “treatment” and probation for one year. A year after the probation and “treatment” were over Turing was found dead in his home of apparent cyanide poisoning. His cause of death is listed as suicide, but some think it was accidental. In this case we’ll never know for sure.

                Leonardo DiCaprio was originally cast as Turing, but pulled out at the last minute. When the film makers then approached Benedict Cumberbatch with the role, he jumped at the chance. In December of 2013, after an aggressive internet campaign pushing for justice for this great man, the Queen granted Turing a posthumous pardon. According to an interview with, Cumberbatch was intrigued by this and began to research who Turing was and what he did. He then felt it was his mission to play this role and show the world just how great a man Turing was and how important his work is, even today.

There’s quite a bit of Oscar buzz around Benedict Cumberbatch for his portrayal of Turing, and I have to say that in this case I agree. Of course we’ll have to wait until February to see if he comes out on top, but with no other clear candidates at the moment I think he’s a shoe in.

                As far as historical accuracy versus entertainment value, for once in a LONG time Hollywood got it right. There are plenty of humorous moments, while not taking away from the seriousness of the overall story. The Imitation Game manages to keep you engaged and at times on the edge of your seat, while ensuring that we, the audience, learn more about this great man and his work.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s mission to show the world how important Turing was can’t be complete until this movie is seen by as many people as possible, so go see it! You’ll be glad you did!

                The Imitation Game is rated PG 13. It was directed by Morton Tyldum and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly and Charles Dance. It is now out on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.