I finally got round to seeing The Imitation Game yesterday. What a huge bundle of emotions that produced.
I’ll admit I’d been a bit reluctant to see the film as I’m not a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s not rational at all – there’s just something about him that seems to annoy me.
But, in light of his acting in The Imitation Game, I may have to review my opinion.
I was aware of the broad outlines of Alan Turning’s story (cracked the Enigma machine problem, homosexual, caught and sentenced to ‘chemical castration’ and ultimately commited suicide), but the film really brought him to life for me.
There were so many unexpected levels. One very important one being that Turing, if he were around in the present, would probably have been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Other turns I hadn’t seen coming were the involvement of the team (of course, even the best geniuses can’t solve everything alone) and how they stuck up for him in a dark hour.
Keira Knightley was incredible in her role too. Some of the film’s most moving moments involved her and Cumberbatch together.
But the story shone through above all the brilliant acting. And what a story. A man, a genius indeed, who served his country and potentially saved two years of war and countless lives. A man who was then condemned to a punishment which not only deprived him of his sexual identity but also, ultimately, of his brilliant mind. A mind that, at least as portrayed in the film, was partly always focused backwards on his one true childhood love as he made his mathematical advances.
I was heartbroken seeing him in the state he was towards the end of the film, a broken man consoled by one of the few friends he’d ever made in life, especially knowing where he was heading. I had real mixed feelings coming out of the cinema, not about the film, but about where the world is in terms of equal treatment for members of the LGBT community (exacerbated, I suspect by how angry and moved I’ve been this week about Leelah Alcorn’s suicide).
On the one hand, we have a world where slowly (state by state in the US), equal marriage rights for LGBT people are being opened up. On the other hand, we have a world which seems to be sliding towards a more right-wing, less tolerant world-view. This includes many African and Asian countries’ criminalisation or harassment of LGBT people and the situation in Russia which has moved from ‘banning propaganda by those of non-traditional sexual relationships‘ to the ridiculous, yet scary, restrictions on driving licences for trans* people.
The Imitation Game is, ultimately, an incredibly moving and thought-provoking movie about an understated British hero, which I would recommend anyone go and see.