benedict

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
(only because I want to discuss the ending, and that’s not possible without giving some things away)

Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Andrew Hodges (book) Graham Moore (screenplay)
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kiera Knightley
114 minutes run time
Black Bear Pictures, Bristol Automotive
Historical picture based on past events around World War II and Alan Turing’s work.

The Germans began World War II and then got off to a great start with it because they had a code system that was so very solid, so very unbreakable, that they could do anything, anytime, anywhere, just by sending their messages done in this code – and that code was called ENIGMA.

Bring out the British. They knew about Enigma. They knew it would require so much to break it. Their action: get together the best British minds and have them break the code. They hire exactly that, including a very socially inept Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), who ends up leading the group. His first act: to fire a few of the original people and hiring some of his own, one of them being the only female of the group, Joan Clark (Kiera Knightley).

Through some hard work, the group eventually does crack Enigma. Alan Turing’s social ‘quirks’ however, get in the way, and that affects the rest of the story. More on that later.

Mr. Cumberbatch captures the personality of Alan Turing in full force – the unawareness of his social ineptitude, his genius, his solid grasp on thinking out of the box … and his logical mind. He certainly deserved his nomination for the Oscar.

Kiera Knightley offered a very nice job on her character as Joan Clarke, the off-the-rack girl who has the mind and the smarts to compete with the big boys. Being female, her role is held back by the standards of the time, where women are capable of being merely secretaries, where intelligent women don’t exist – at least not on the same level of Alan Turing and his group. She, too, deserved her Oscar nomination.

Now, if you have read this far, you know enough to decide if you want to go see the movie or not. STOP if you don’t want to know some more info about the movie . . . THIS MEANS YOU

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

And so here it is. Throughout the movie, we learn in stages that Alan Turing is homosexual. And yes, I know that the proper word these days is “gay”, but I choose to use the word that is historically correct for the time period of the movie.

Now here’s the thing – in the story, we see Alan Turing picking up another guy at a bar. . . an adult guy. Not a kid, not in any ‘perverted’ way, he just tries to pick up the guy. There are other allusions throughout the movie, but this is the clearest instance. Joan also is aware of Alan’s sexuality, and she, as his fiancé (I will let you see the movie to see how such a thing works out) doesn’t care at all about that fact.
However, once the project is over, Enigma cracked and managed in such a way to shorten the war, the team of brains is dismissed, and we finally see Alan Turing in the early 1950s. Joan, now married to someone else, has come by for a visit. It is here that we find out that Alan Turing has been found guilty in a court of law of “indecency”. His sentence was his choice of either two years in prison or to take a drug that would chemically castrate him. He chose the latter, which gave him some serious side effects, not the least of which was tremors – the worst, though we are not necessarily told that it was a side effect – was that he killed himself a few years later.

And that brings me to the social question from the title of this blog. IS THIS HOW WE TREAT OUR ACHIEVERS? Not only Alan Turing, but seems that our society has developed a real taste for shooting down people who have achieved.

It doesn’t matter where the achievements are. We have torn down musicians, actors, journalists, politicians, athletes – you name it.

And the crimes have ranged from some pretty horrid circumstances including abuse, murder, robbery, alcoholism, exploitation of others – – – you name it.  There have also been some pretty petty things that we’ve used to tear down these achievers.

Certainly some have been guilty and deserved to be dropped a peg or two or twenty. Some haven’t. That’s where I put Mr. Turing.

It’s just that we are getting into this habit much too quickly – and THE IMITATION GAME is a reflection of that tendency.

So let’s try to keep perspective when we assess our achievers. Let’s be more discriminating about their failings, and be appreciative of their successes.

And hey, that wouldn’t be a bad thing for all of us to keep in mind when it comes to each other as well.

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