Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Graham Moore, Andrew Hodges
Production Companies: Black Bear Pictures, Bristol Automotive
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech
Genre: Biography/ Historical Drama
What It’s About: Mathematician Alan Turing works with a team to crack the Enigma code during WWII.
How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.
Thoughts: Prodigy mathematician Alan Turing faces off against naysayers and sets out to create what will eventually be realized as a primitive computer in hopes of breaking Enigma–the German encryption device.
My main interest in watching this film was that it starred Benedict Cumberbatch–I won’t lie. I’m a big fan of his work. Right off the bat, we get to experience him in his interpretation of famed mathematician Alan Turing. The scenes at the beginning between him and Denniston (Dance) are so well done. The back and forth is not only humorous, but it gives us great insight as to who Turing is and what he’s like. There are several other scenes where Turing’s personality quirks make for some funny scenes–although maybe not intentionally. Cumberbatch sells the idiosyncrasies and makes them quite charming.
Eventually we meet Joan Clarke (Knightley). I loved this character immediately. When we’re introduced to Joan, she’s basically being told off by a misogynist asshole. She stands up for herself, and Turing steps in and assists her–you can see that they instantly bond in that moment. When she cracks the puzzle set before her in less time than Turing himself could do it, the look of astonishment on his face is priceless. The relationship that she forms with Alan is unconventional, yet absorbing. Knightley and Cumberbatch had great chemistry.
As a whole, this was really a great ensemble cast. I can’t think of any weak links off the top of my head.
This story lends itself to becoming a fantastic film–there really wasn’t any surprise there. How they played it, however, is what made me fall in love the movie. This movie–at its core–is a celebration of being different. Turing is strange and brilliant and we see the strife that he’s experienced throughout his life in the film. Alan was also a homosexual, and the trials that he faced in a society that was not only intolerant of that–but one that considered it illegal–they’re just unthinkable. Abhorrent. It’s so sad that after all he had done, and all the millions of lives that he saved, that he fell victim to an ignorant and intolerant government. He spent his life trying to program a machine that could think and act like a human–and in the end, it was almost as though they were trying to “re-program” him with hormone therapies that eventually made him take his own life.
There’s a line that is repeated several times in the film. I’m not sure if it was a creation by the screenwriter, or if it was a direct quote from those in Turing’s life:
Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.
What a fantastic quote. That stuck with me throughout the film, and I found myself nearly in tears every time it was uttered. Just to imagine how unappreciated he lived his life because he didn’t have a choice–everything was confidential. No one could know what he did–all the millions of lives he saved. Unfathomable.
The set design, the costumes, the cinematography, the score–everything really helped to build the story. The only criticism I could even think of was that sometimes the jumps in time between Bletchley during the war and Manchester after the war got a little confusing in the beginning. That’s it. I can’t think of anything else.
My Rating: Huzzah!!
I laughed. I cried. I gasped. I sat on the edge of my seat. A truly beautiful film.
Where Can I Watch It?: Amazon, iTunes, or rent it at your local video store or library.