Jump to content

Type keyword(s) to search

The Imitation Game (2014): Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing + Keira Knightley


ToxicUnicorn
  • Reply
  • Start Topic

Recommended Posts

Please forgive me if I am not seeing an already-established thread; if so, I apologize.

 

Very few movies will pull me into the theaters to spend money these days, including quite a few of BC's (even though I love him as Sherlock).  However, Benedict + the subject matter of Alan Turing and the Enigma codebreakers was enough to buy a ticket for myself and for my teenager.

 

What a spectacular and moving performance BC gives as Turing.  His work absolutely lived up to the hype for me, I was in no way disappointed.  In fact, I have been trying to think of another role that has affected me so deeply (I'm old enough that my memory's not so good, but I am working hard at it) and I have not been able to come up with one.

 

Keira Knightley is also excellent.  I am not familiar with her work, but she was quite lovely and restrained.

 

From what I've read, the rest of the supporting cast also get praise from whoever writes reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  I wasn't too impressed with them, but it doesn't matter.  (ETA: excepting Alex Lawther, as young Alan Turing, who was terrific.)

 

I know there are links to reviews of BC's performance and press talks for The Imitation Game in BC's thread in Sherlock, but didn't see a thread devoted to the movie in its entirety. 

Edited by ToxicUnicorn
  • Love 4
Link to comment

What did your teenager think?  Mine, who loves movies, but mostly anything but dramas, waffled a bit about whether or not to go because he thought it looked like it could be good or it could be really boring.  He loved it.  I thought it was outstanding.  I have never seen BC in anything, but had heard he was a great actor.  Before I saw this, I didn't think anyone would beat Eddie Redmayne's performance this year, but after I left the theater, I'm thinking he and BC are neck and neck. 

 

I thought Kiera was good, but she didn't wow me until her final scene.  That's when I really saw what she was capable of.

  • Love 1
Link to comment

I think I'm going to go see this on Thursday. I'm both a Cumberbabe (I don't like the other name that his female fans gave themselves) and a big WWII history buff, so this is right up my alley.

 

If you like both BC and Eddie Redmayne, definitely look up BC's performance as Hawking in a BBC tv movie (it's on Youtube) that I believe is just called "Hawking". It was his big breakout role in the UK, and ended up leading to the roles that broke him out worldwide. He is just amazing in the part!

  • Love 1
Link to comment

I loved this movie. The acting was terrific and the story was amazing. I hope Benedict Cumberbatch can win the Oscar. I saw Theory of Everything too, and yeah, Redmayne was good, but for me that movie was so one-dimensional and shallow that it hurt the impact of the performance overall (plus, I personally kept thinking of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, which was an amazing performance and a great movie). But Cumberbatch was sensational here, and Keira was great too.

  • Love 4
Link to comment

What did your teenager think?

Mine was disappointed, at first, that the nth installment of The Hunger Games was sold out.  I snuck a peek when the wartime news footage came on, to see if she was interested, and she was completely engaged.  Glad yours liked it, too.  I feel like taking that entire generations' cellphones and making them watch this movie.

 

but she didn't wow me until her final scene.  That's when I really saw what she was capable of.

Those last two encounters between Joan and Alan were dynamite.  I agree, Keira turned in her best in that last scene.  But BC in the scene before that, at Bletchley ... just give him all the awards.

 

I haven't seen Theory of Everything (will definitely look up Hawking), but I think BC ran circles around Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot.  (And Geoffrey Rush in Shine.  Not to mention Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, who doesn't even get into the same arena as these three, in my opinion.)

 

For whatever reason, as I was trying to think of comparisons last night, I kept coming up with Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.  Completely different, I know, and doesn't do BC any justice, but the feeling of being stunned by a portrayal is sort of similar.  That's how far back I have thought so far, and I saw that movie when I was a kid.

Edited by ToxicUnicorn
Link to comment

We just recently saw this and I loved it. My favourite movie that we've seen this holiday break (and we've seen a lot).

 

The only complaint I have - if one can even call it that - is when Joan turns up for the top secret job thing after completing the crossword. The entire interaction between her and the sexist security guard/clipboard holder just screamed "modern woman power moment!" that it kind of took me out of it. I mean, this movie is set during WWII. I have a very hard time believing that a woman of that time frame didn't understand why the security dude was convinced she was applying for a secretary position rather than a top secret govt job. Also, she saw her name on the clipboard, so it seems to me like she could have immediately stated "My name is Joan Whatever. I was mailed a letter stating to come here for this top secret job thing after I completed a crossword in under 10 minutes. My name is on your list right there." But instead, we were given this whole IMO disingenuous exchange between them.

 

I loved all the acting and was thrilled to see Matthew Goode again. Glad to see that he wasn't the stereotypical bad guy/antagonist.

 

BC kicked ass. I honestly do not find him at all attractive and his sex-symbol status is utterly lost on me. I will, however, admit that I find he has a great deal of acting charisma/skill and has pulled me in to every character he has played.

 

The boy who played young Alan was fucking amazing too. Goddamn.

 

One of the most emotional moments for me was when their entire group realized that they had to let an entire civilian convoy be lost to an attack or risk tipping off the Germans to the fact that they'd cracked the Enigma. What a terrible position to be put in. And that one of them had a brother on board? Oh, man. Heartbreaking.

 

It did kind of make me wonder though, what the military's goal was in cracking Enigma. I mean, I asked the same question when they were assigned the job in the first place: if they crack it, what do they plan to do about it? If the British started foiling all of Germany's plans, the Germans will figure it out and then the British advantage is very brief. If BC hadn't stepped in and gone directly to MI6 about their success, would the British military have lost the war?

 

I found it fascinating that they did statistical analysis of every bit of intel they got, determining which attacks they could realistically act on without giving away that Engima had been cracked and which ones they had to allow to happen. I'd love to know the science behind those assessments. What a truly terrible weight those people had to bear; playing God with people's lives...determining who got to live and who got to die. No wonder Alan Turing was full of guilt and was asking to have his actions judged by the modern cop.

 

I can't believe that Alan Turing was only pardoned for his criminal charge of homosexuality in 2013. Geez.

 

I loved little motto/mantra about how it's often those from whom the world imagines nothing who end up doing the unimaginable. (poorly paraphrasing here)

Edited by NoWillToResist
  • Love 1
Link to comment

And that one of them had a brother on board? 

...

If BC hadn't stepped in and gone directly to MI6 about their success, would the British military have lost the war?

...

I found it fascinating that they did statistical analysis of every bit of intel they got, determining which attacks they could realistically act on without giving away that Engima had been cracked and which ones they had to allow to happen. I'd love to know the science behind those assessments.

Was all (or any) of this true?  I chalked these parts up to movie making story telling.  I have a hard time believing that anyone (not to mention more than one person) would make decisions like that for 2 years.  If so, how horrifying.

 

But instead, we were given this whole IMO disingenuous exchange between them.

Yes, I agree.  This could have been so much better.  But if they hadn't done that, they wouldn't have been able to have Turing save the day, and I enjoyed that a lot.

Link to comment

I too was very impressed with the young Turing, but I failed to see anything out of the ordinary in Knightley's performance.

Can someone explain the title to me? I've been trying to figure out how the work Turing was doing was an 'imitation' of anything. What am I missing?

Link to comment
found it fascinating that they did statistical analysis of every bit of intel they got, determining which attacks they could realistically act on without giving away that Engima had been cracked and which ones they had to allow to happen. I'd love to know the science behind those assessments.

 

Was all (or any) of this true?  I chalked these parts up to movie making story telling.  I have a hard time believing that anyone (not to mention more than one person) would make decisions like that for 2 years.  If so, how horrifying.

 

 

 

Apparently it is true that not all of the intel obtained by codebreaking was acted upon, for precisely the reason given.  However, according to The Telegraph, it was Menzies (The MI6 agent) who was tasked with making those decisions, not Turing and the other code-breakers. THAT is what was dramatic license. 

 

Though not a codebreaker himself, it was Menzies who was in overall charge at Bletchley, and it was he who introduced what was called Ultra. If too many of the intercepts from Bletchley were acted upon, the Germans would get suspicious that the Enigma codes had been cracked. Menzies therefore introduced a system that meant only a certain percentage of the intelligence gleaned from decoding would be passed on to the British Army, Navy and RAF.

 

 

 

I saw the movie today and thought it was amazing. Great acting and such a fascinating story. Really makes me want to read Alan Turing's biography.  Such an intriguing -- and tragic -- man. 

  • Love 1
Link to comment

I too was very impressed with the young Turing, but I failed to see anything out of the ordinary in Knightley's performance.

Can someone explain the title to me? I've been trying to figure out how the work Turing was doing was an 'imitation' of anything. What am I missing?

 

I imagine it has to do with Turing having to hide his homosexuality.

I read an article where somebody who worked with Turing on Enigma is upset with the portrayal of him in the movie, the person called him very friendly and approachable.

  • Love 2
Link to comment

According to the biography, he was considered to be "eccentric" with a few quirks. So I imagine that's the inspiration, though they probably ramped it up to 11, because quirky geniuses are all the rage right now.

 

Still, I don't expect movies to be 100% accurate and I do find it a bit annoying that every single year when Oscar voting period starts in earnest all the biography movies are suddenly attacked by various expert statements (no doubt commissioned by the competition) for not being totally faithful to real life (see also Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Selma this year, etc.). It's a movie, it's gonna take liberties.

Link to comment

The only one I think it really, really hurt was Zero Dark Thirty, and that was because there was just a mass rush of congressmen and senators attacking the film, and the history was so recent and still a hot button topic, which made it a total landmine. And now it looks like what happened was that the screenwriter just took the word of the CIA guys he spoke to without questioning it, which was a mistake since they're a bunch of liars.

 

But anyway, I don't think this will hurt Imitation Game much at all, and that's because the history is pretty far in the past, the movie is doing great at the box office and most people in the U.S. aren't that familiar with Alan Turing anyway. I do actually think the Selma one has the potential to hurt that film more, because it's coming from people who worked with and for LBJ disputing what's in that film, and the topic of the civil rights movement and the relevancy to now is still a hot button issue in this country.

  • Love 1
Link to comment

Can someone explain the title to me? I've been trying to figure out how the work Turing was doing was an 'imitation' of anything. What am I missing?

More about the real Imitation Game. The concept of whether computers can imitate human thinking very briefly comes up in the film, probably to try to explain the title. The movie is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, but Enigma was already used for an earlier movie about (different) British codebreakers in World War II.

Fact vs. fiction in The Imitation Game. Tl;dr:

  • Turing wasn't on the autism spectrum, but was more open about his sexuality with friends and colleagues.
  • He built an improved code-breaking machine, but the Polish had invented an earlier version. Also, Turing devised the computer with the help of a person not even mentioned in the film.
  • Christopher was real; Turing didn't name any of his early machines after him.
  • Commander Denniston recruited Turing and never tried to fire him.
  • The guy whose brother was doomed didn't actually have a brother IRL.
  • Joan Clarke was recruited to Bletchley by an old professor, not a crossword puzzle. Turing tried to reunite with her a couple of years after the breakup but she rebuffed him.
  • There's no record of Turing personally crossing paths with Menzies or the Soviet spy.

Some changes fall within the acceptable realm of dramatic license for me, but it seems so incredibly lazy and reductive to imply that the misunderstood genius has some form of autism. If he did, fine, but why fall back on that creaky stereotype in the 2010s? It just makes the think the screenwriter and director aren't very creative. And with this movie's clear Oscar aspirations, of course it completely shied away from showing Turing actually doing anything physical or intimate with a man, when it's a huge part of his story that the movie actually delves into—the arrest, the chemical castration, his eventual suicide. But it was just a creative decision to limit the PDA to that flashback where Alan and Christopher sat very closely together that one time, and not because the filmmakers and studio didn't want to make any conservative AMPAS members uncomfortable or risk a more restrictive rating. Sure.

I guess you're only supposed to judge a movie on what it is and not what it could have been and I did find it watchable enough at the time. In the rearview mirror, and with more knowledge of reality...

Edited by Dejana
  • Love 2
Link to comment

According to the biography, he was considered to be "eccentric" with a few quirks. So I imagine that's the inspiration, though they probably ramped it up to 11, because quirky geniuses are all the rage right now.

 

Still, I don't expect movies to be 100% accurate and I do find it a bit annoying that every single year when Oscar voting period starts in earnest all the biography movies are suddenly attacked by various expert statements (no doubt commissioned by the competition) for not being totally faithful to real life (see also Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Selma this year, etc.). It's a movie, it's gonna take liberties.

 

And Foxcatcher.  Mark Schultz is irate about his portrayal.

Link to comment

Can someone explain the title to me? I've been trying to figure out how the work Turing was doing was an 'imitation' of anything. What am I missing?

 

I find it interesting that the title is relevant to different aspects of the movie:

 

- Turing imitating a heterosexual by getting engaged to Joan

- Turing imitating Enigma via his Christopher

- Turing trying to make a computer which can imitate the way a human's mind works and develops and grows

  • Love 2
Link to comment
Fact vs. fiction in The Imitation Game.

Thanks for all of this information, Dejana.  I was curious about all of this.

 

clear Oscar aspirations, of course it completely shied away from showing Turing actually doing anything physical or intimate with a man, when it's a huge part of his story that the movie actually delves into—the arrest, the chemical castration, his eventual suicide. But it was just a creative decision to limit the PDA to that flashback where Alan and Christopher sat very closely together that one time,

I'll venture a different opinion.  I found these choices to be completely satisfying and sensible artistic decisions.  The fact that we saw nothing overt (pointedly so) only served to increase my sense that Turing's sexuality was a very important part of his life and of what happened to him.  Partly, it was BC's portrayal of the pain of it all.  I feel like, if I had seen anything explicit, even a kiss, the focus would have shifted : from picturing the homophobia and persecution that Turing faced as something external, oppressive, and really difficult to fight, precisely because it was an abstract, pervasive, and menacing force in his life, to showing something that, at this point, may seem mundane (and/or viscerally objectionable to some people).   I liked the choice to keep Turing's sexuality at the mental level, because to me, it made me think about whether it is ok to do bad things to people just because their sexual orientation happened to be whatever it was.  

 

I also felt like the lack of PDA was consistent with the period piece that they were showing.  We never saw any PDA between heterosexual couples, either, if I recall.  All we saw was a few scenes of dancing and flirting.  I think it would have felt out of place (again, for me), if that mood was interrupted to make a point of showing Turing being more physical with one of his gay lovers.  If they had done that, I think it would have jarred my sense of time and place.  I would have thought, "well, they're just doing that because now it is the 21st century and they can do that, so they're making a point of it, and what the heck is it doing in a movie about the 30's to the 50's where the ending is so sad."  I don't know - to me, I've seen enough gay scenes already on the small screen to not really feel like I need it to be shown anymore.  I get it.  Then again, I'm not big on seeing PDA of any kind, so that may just be me.

 

As for the young Turing and Christopher scenes, I found the portrayal of their closeness to be pitch perfect for Turing's in-story young, shy love, and I thought the acting was incredible.  Now, if they actually had a torrid relationship in real life, and the movie chose to portray them as chaste as it did, then I can understand why some might object to the departure from the truth, but I find that as within bounds for dramatic license as anything else., 

 

I guess I really liked the movie the way it was.  Just my opinion, though!

  • Love 1
Link to comment

As for the young Turing and Christopher scenes, I found the portrayal of their closeness to be pitch perfect for Turing's in-story young, shy love, and I thought the acting was incredible.  Now, if they actually had a torrid relationship in real life, and the movie chose to portray them as chaste as it did, then I can understand why some might object to the departure from the truth, but I find that as within bounds for dramatic license as anything else., 

 

I loved how the relationship between young Turing and Christopher was depicted. At first I wasn't sure whether Christopher was just being friendly to the bullied kid, but I felt that the young actor managed to show that his feelings towards Turing gradually...shifted, shall we say. My heart was breaking at Turing's shy but earnest demeanor around Christopher. Young Turing wore his heart on his sleeve. Frankly I'm amazed that no one teased them about their closeness because young boys are assholes like that, IMO.

 

And the scene where Turing is told that Christopher had died? Jesus, the young actor who played Turing made me cry. You could just see him desperately trying to hold it together in front of the headmaster and put up walls so that he didn't completely collapse in the face of that news. Can't help but think that such tragedy with his first love didn't help his social development any.

 

Aaaand, I have only just now realized that Turing named his machine after his first love. *face palm*. Christ, sometimes I'm dim.

  • Love 5
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Can someone explain the title to me? I've been trying to figure out how the work Turing was doing was an 'imitation' of anything. What am I missing?

In the world of Artificial Intelligence research/development, there is a Turing test aka The Imitation Game (yes, named after Alan). In the movie it was kind of explained in his scene with the cop. Basically, a computer can't be alive or sentient like a human being but it can imitate a human. Two people are isolated and can only communicate to a third by notes. It is the third person's job to determine if person 1 or person 2 is a machine. In 2014, a program got really close to fooling judges.

  • Love 2
Link to comment
  • 1 year later...

I knew this movie was going to be tough to watch because I knew enough about Turing to know it would not be happy, but I finally steeled myself and watched it, and thought it was pretty extraordinary. I loved all of the characters and found them pretty rich and nuanced. And performance-wise, after seeing it, I absolutely think Cumberbatch was robbed.

 

What he does as Turing is so subtle and so beautiful. His voice is higher, he walks and moves differently; even his face moves differently. His inflections and enunciations are sort of curved at the ends in a slightly affected way that I associate with both England of that period, and with public school attendees; it's not so much an accent (although I'm sure that's part of it for Cumberbatch's take on the character) as it is an appropriation of an entirely different and subtle voice. I thought Cumberbatch should have won the Oscar over Redmayne for this, and his final scene really destroyed me.

 

 

What a spectacular and moving performance BC gives as Turing.  His work absolutely lived up to the hype for me, I was in no way disappointed.  In fact, I have been trying to think of another role that has affected me so deeply (I'm old enough that my memory's not so good, but I am working hard at it) and I have not been able to come up with one.

 

Keira Knightley is also excellent.  I am not familiar with her work, but she was quite lovely and restrained.

 

I thought this was the best work I've seen Knightley do, although I did also love her in "Pride and Prejudice," where she was a wonderful Elizabeth Bennett. The final scene between her and Cumberbatch was riveting and so moving.

 

The only complaint I have - if one can even call it that - is when Joan turns up for the top secret job thing after completing the crossword. The entire interaction between her and the sexist security guard/clipboard holder just screamed "modern woman power moment!" that it kind of took me out of it. I mean, this movie is set during WWII. I have a very hard time believing that a woman of that time frame didn't understand why the security dude was convinced she was applying for a secretary position rather than a top secret govt job.

 

(snipped for space)

 

I loved little motto/mantra about how it's often those from whom the world imagines nothing who end up doing the unimaginable. (poorly paraphrasing here)

 

NoWilltoResist, I didn't mind it because the ad seemed to me to have come off like some kind of game or prize, so Joan simply arrived thinking it might be a diversion of some sort, not fully realizing it was top secret and shrouded in mystery. There wouldn't be an obvious gender bias in a crossword puzzle, so I got why her attitude was so different from the guard's. I liked it because she would definitely have encountered many other similar scenarios at the time, so it managed to serve the story for me by both efficiently introducing Joan and by showing us a bond with Alan right away.

 

More about the real Imitation Game. The concept of whether computers can imitate human thinking very briefly comes up in the film, probably to try to explain the title. The movie is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma, but Enigma was already used for an earlier movie about (different) British codebreakers in World War II.
 

(snipped for space)

 

Some changes fall within the acceptable realm of dramatic license for me, but it seems so incredibly lazy and reductive to imply that the misunderstood genius has some form of autism. If he did, fine, but why fall back on that creaky stereotype in the 2010s? It just makes the think the screenwriter and director aren't very creative. And with this movie's clear Oscar aspirations, of course it completely shied away from showing Turing actually doing anything physical or intimate with a man, when it's a huge part of his story that the movie actually delves into—the arrest, the chemical castration, his eventual suicide. But it was just a creative decision to limit the PDA to that flashback where Alan and Christopher sat very closely together that one time, and not because the filmmakers and studio didn't want to make any conservative AMPAS members uncomfortable or risk a more restrictive rating. Sure.

 

I was fine with most of the ways the story streamlined the original events -- I actually thought it did a pretty good job of compressing them to take place within the time constrictions of a film. I also didn't really think they were pushing an actual agenda of autism here with Turing, so much as one of a guy who was a bit socially isolated, uncomfortable, and anxious (all qualities I can identify with as a non-autistic person myself). I never felt like I was watching Cumberbatch "play autistic" here. Turing was simply different, and I liked that about him, and I was moved when the others began to like and understand him too.

 

Meanwhile, I really didn't get the impression that it was squeamishness that limited the film's depiction of any PDA on Turing's part, but rather that it simply didn't fit the character. Turing is so private in what he chooses to show within the story -- both as a child and as an adult -- that it made sense to me that the film would not delve too deeply into that aspect of his life.

 

And that's what made it ultimately that more moving for me. While Turing seemed comfortable with his homosexuality and with even sharing that knowledge guardedly with others in his circle (a personality trait that surprised me, and that I really liked), I got the impression from the character that he wasn't one of those people who are super-focused on sex or relationships so much as on work. That was why I found it so ironic that his downfall in the end was over his sexuality, when it didn't even appear to be a part of his life that he himself focused on much. It's a terrible irony -- and knowing that he had agreed to chemical castration in the end, just to be able to stay out of prison and work, I was basically ugly-crying at that point.

 

I find it interesting that the title is relevant to different aspects of the movie:

 

- Turing imitating a heterosexual by getting engaged to Joan

- Turing imitating Enigma via his Christopher

- Turing trying to make a computer which can imitate the way a human's mind works and develops and grows

 

I agree, and thought this was a beautiful summation of the 'imitation games' in the film. And adding to all of these,

 

  • the rich irony that Turing's "Imitation Game" is ultimately used by him to create the Turing Test, to discover whether a machine can successfully imitate a person
  • Turing 'imitating' social behavior for acceptance
  • Joan's perception by others as an 'imitation' -- as a woman with no place in a man's world

 

In the world of Artificial Intelligence research/development, there is a Turing test aka The Imitation Game (yes, named after Alan). In the movie it was kind of explained in his scene with the cop. Basically, a computer can't be alive or sentient like a human being but it can imitate a human. Two people are isolated and can only communicate to a third by notes. It is the third person's job to determine if person 1 or person 2 is a machine. In 2014, a program got really close to fooling judges.

 

As a little bit of trivia, Blade Runner's famous replicant test scenes involving the "Voight-Kampff machine" are a fictionalized version of the Turing Test. The Turing Test is also directly referenced in the film Ex Machina. Menzies (Mark Strong's character) was a real person, and is also thought to have been the direct inspiration for the character of "M" in Ian Fleming's Bond novels after his real-life work in espionage during WWII.

  • Love 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...