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Trivia / Goofs
Summary / Analysis
Times of India
During WWII, mathematician extraordinaire Alan Turing's mission is to crack the Enigma machine's code used by the Wehrmacht. Turing's work will not only be instrumental in shortening the war but will also as a result, save many millions of lives. Apart from that, this is a masterful portrayal of a genius.
"Pay close attention. I will not pause. I will not repeat myself..." intones Turing (Cumberbatch) very early on in the movie. And so, indeed without pause or preamble, steadily unspools the tale of one of the most brilliant minds of modern times.
In Bletchley Park (Churchill's Secret Intelligence and Computers HQ), Turing is interviewed by the imperious Commander Denniston (Dance) for a 'secret' job. When Turing utters the word 'Enigma', the deal is done. Helping him along in Hut 8 are a few code-breaking experts Hugh (Matthew), John (Leech), Peter (Beard) and his future fiance Joan (Knightley). None of their lives would ever be the same again.
Enigma has "159 million million million" combinations, says Turing, and as if things weren't difficult enough, the Nazis change the combination every midnight. But Turing sees a sliver of statistical possibility. He builds a machine that can as he hopes, crack Enigma. Only a machine can defeat another machine, he believes, as his disbelieving teammates look on.
The film bounces between three time periods - Childhood, WWII and post war. But it is the death of his childhood friend Christopher (Bannon) that becomes Turing's guiding star in life. He names the machine Christopher. A room-filling behemoth fuelled by arterial power cables and venous wires, it is like a manifestation of Turing's own complex mind.
Joan's warmth and intellect both complements and is a counterfoil to Turing's personality. While his sexuality did cause him problems in his native England, this is not a tale of tragedy but rather, one of triumph. And as Turing was told as a child: "Sometimes, it is the people whom no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine." An affecting tale of an extraordinary human being.
Turing machines or 'universal machines' feature in the film. In theory, this is a theoretical computing machine invented by Alan Turing in 1937 to serve as an idealized model for mathematical calculation. Turing machines also embodied the first relationship between hardware andre-programmable software. Previously, machines could only perform tasks they were designed for. Here, a different set of instructions could be fed into the machine, which could use different gear combinations to give a suitable answer.
Winston Churchill was all praise for Turing and lauded his efforts publicly.
Cumberbatch actually started weeping during shooting for one of the film's final scenes.
Cumberbatch and Turing are actually very distant relatives. They are '17th cousins', according to a report.
This is Morten Tyldum's first film in English.
Leonardo DiCaprio was initially supposed to be a part of this movie. Though it is not sure what role he would have played.
A montage of German newsreel footage shows a brief clip of a tall man wearing civilian clothes and standing with arms akimbo. This is Wernher Von Braun, the world's greatest rocket scientist. Among his designs are the V-2 ballistic missile used by Germany during WWII and the Saturn V rocket used by NASA on the Apollo moon missions.
Cumberbatch has played a mathematician before. He played Stephen Hawking, in 2004's Hawking.
In use, the Enigma required a list of daily key settings and auxiliary documents. The procedures for German Naval Enigma were more elaborate and more secure than those in other services. Navy codebooks were printed in red, water-soluble ink on pink paper so that they could easily be destroyed if they were endangered.
The Kriegsmarine version of the Wehrmacht Enigma had always been issued with more rotors than the other services: at first six, then seven, and finally eight. The additional rotors were marked VI, VII and VIII, all with different wiring, and had two notches, resulting in more frequent turnover.
The Turing Test (referred to as The Imitation Game in the movie) was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," which opens with the words: "I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?' Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?"
Benedict Cumberbatch confessed that in a final scene of the film, he couldn't control his tears and faced a breakdown. About the experience, he says, "being an actor or a person that had grown incredibly fond of the character and thinking what he had suffered and how that had affected him."
Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Turing are actually related in real-life. According to the family history site Ancestry, both are 17th cousins with family relations dating back to the 14th century. The two are said to be related to John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset, through Cumberbatch and Turing's respective paternal lines.
The film's screenplay topped the annual Black List for best un-produced Hollywood scripts of 2011.
The official website of the film-theimitationgamemovie.com allows visitors to unlock exclusive content by solving crossword puzzles conceived by Turing in his lifetime.
In order to portray Turing with perfection, Cumberbatch wore dentures, at his own behest. No one had asked him to do so.
In one scene, office Nock uses correction fluid in a typer-written document. This was in 1951. The said white-out fluid wasn't commonly used in workplaces till many years later.
The real name of Turing's machine was 'Bombe' and was much smaller and neater. There never was a machine called 'Christopher'. This is seen as pure creative license.
Various phrases used in the film, such as 'kicking someone's ass' and 'radicalized' weren't, according to reports, used at the time in GBR.
The word 'trial' is misspelt as 'trail' in a newspaper piece announcing Turing's investigation.
Turing's home was burgled in 1952 and not 1951.
There are overhead wires seen at a train station in England. All trains were steam powered during the 1940s.
Turing did not build the Bombe by himself as he was not a mechanical engineer. Designed by him, it was reportedly built by the British Tabulating Machine Company under the direction of one Harold Keene.
At the beginning of the movie, we see two cops head into Alan Turing's home to investigate a robbery at Turing's place. They walk in to see Turing crouched on the floor and sweeping up some spilled cyanide in powder form. All around him is strewn the paraphernalia of chemistry lab experiments. Turing is disdainful of the cops and tells them that there is nothing to investigate. We later learn that Turing's home was burgled by the friend of a man who he had possibly spent the night with. The burglar broke into Turing's home knowing full well that Turing was already under investigation for his homosexuality, which was illegal in Great Britain, so he felt that Turing would never complain to the authorities.
Later, Turing walks into Bletchley Park and meets Commander Denniston who looks and sounds like a relic from Admiral Nelson's era. Brittannia no longer rules the sea, but Denniston's superciliousness remains. He is disdainful of Turing's type and even admonishes the mathematician for not addressing him by his rank. Turing, on the other hand, thinks Denniston is a blockhead. An ignoramus in a fancy uniform. Nonetheless, both need the other regardless of their mutual contempt. Just when Turing blows it by saying that he cannot speak German, he utters the word 'Enigma' (the German cryptic code machine) and that gets Denniston's attention.
He is then introduced to the fellow code-breakers he will work with by Maj. Gen. Stewart Menzies. Turing doesn't think too much of the assembled people because they have been at it for a while now and have had no results to speak of. The others though, are friendly enough towards Turing and ask him out to lunch with them. Turing though, plays around with semantics and comes across as arrogant. Frustrated by the lack of funding and facilities, he confronts Denniston and asks him who he takes his orders from. So, Turing writes to Winston Churchill, who gives Turing command over the code-breaking team as well as the â¤100,000 Turing needs to build the machine that he believes can crack the Enigma code.
But before that, Turing fires two members from the team and creates a crossword puzzle that is published in the papers as a sort of test to fill up the two vacancies in the team. People respond and they are given another cryptic problem to solve in five minutes flat. Joan is late for this second test but is allowed to sit for the test after barging in. She completes it in four minutes and 23 seconds. Turing welcomes her into the team after making special arrangements for her to stay so that her parents aren't scandalized by the fact that she is working long days solely in the company of young men. Later, when Joan says she has to leave as she is 25 and has to get married and settles down, Turing, despite being homosexual, makes an impromptu engagement ring, goes down on one knee and proposes to her. She accepts. As life goes on, the team spends long hours trying to figure out a way to do their task.
During his engagement party however, Turing had confessed to John that he is homosexual. John says he isn't surprised as he thought so.
That evening, a girl who Hugh strikes up a conversation with, says something about familiar words exchanged between two people that gives him an idea. By narrowing down the familiar phrases words routinely exchanged by the Enigma machines, he could make cracking the codes greatly easy. And it works. They crack the codes and are jubilant. But Turing, to Hugh's dismay, realizes that they cannot tell Denniston that just yet. Because if they go about using the intelligence to get the supply convoys safely across the Atlantic all the time, the Nazis will know that Enigma has been compromised and will change their code system. They realize that they will have to let some ships be torpedoed as a sacrifice for the greater good. Peter's brother in fact, serves one one of those Royal Navy ships as a gunner and pleads with Turing to use their information to signal the convoy concerned. He is refused.
Turing and Joan meet Gen. Stewart and tell them that they have to only use the information obtained from the 'Christopher' machine selectively to protect their cover. Stewart agrees, being used to the covert ways of espionage. Turing also discovers that John is a double agent, supplying information to Stalin. John tells Turing to keep quiet else he will squeal about Turing's homosexuality. Surprisingly, when Turing finds Stewart in his house as the latter finds some classified documents there, Stewart tells Turing that he knows John is a double agent and deliberately placed him in the team so that they could monitor what information was leaked to the Soviets.
After the war, the police investigation into Turing's home burglary continues. Detective Robert Nock (Kinnear) finds out that Turing used to meet men at a bar. He also is unable to find any of Turing's war records. He obtains a classified file, but finds the envelope empty.
After calling in Turing to the police station, Nock hears out Turing's extraordinary story for the first time and is gobsmacked. Turing mentions what he calls 'The Imitation Game' - whether a human can have a conversation with a computer in the blind and not tell whether it is human or a machine. Years later towards the end of his life, Turing gets a visit from Joan who has now remarried [he had called off the engagement a wile back after he felt it was too dangerous for her to be attached to him, plus he told Joan that is is a homosexual. Joan had yet insisted that they should be together.] and sees his pitiable condition. He has been prescribed oestogen hormone medication to 'cure' his homosexuality and lives in isolation. Before Joan leaves, she offers him some encouragement and reminds him about all he's achieved in life.
The movie ends with a note about his end and his legacy to mankind - the machines we call computers today.
The Imitation Game has hit the theatres and is receiving rave reviews. Social media is abuzz with audience tweeting their experience watching the film.
Here are some of the responses from Twitter...
'The Imitation Game' - yet another standard paint-by-numbers film. Hey if you have the right formula, use it. But nothing new here