The Imitation Game
The Weinstein Company
Reason for the Rating: Some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.
Plot Summary: Alan Turing is hired by the British Government to break the German "Enigma" code during WWII.
PopFam Recommends: This is an interesting movie to watch with your history-minded teens—but be prepared to have a discussion on the topic of homosexuality afterward.
WWII is always a good setting for a movie. It's a natural place to re-create inspiring stories of courage and remarkable human endurance, as in the movies Unbroken, Schindler's List, and The Pianist. Now we can add The Imitation Game to the list of classic "true story" WWII movies.
If you watch the BBC series, Sherlock, you already know that Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor who fills each episode with his presence. He does no less as Alan Turing, a brilliant mathematician whose interpersonal skills leave him friendless and alone. Despite his inability to connect with others, Turing is hired by the British government to decipher German messages that have been sent via the Enigma machine. This problem was especially difficult, as the Germans changed the code every day. As other cryptographers spent their days attempting to decode the day’s messages, Turing attempts to build a machine to do it for them.
While aspects of the plotline are interesting, on the whole this is a slow moving movie. The focus isn’t on action or intrigue, but past and present relationships. While a young teenager, Turing attended an all-boys boarding school where he was bullied mercilessly. He came to emotionally rely on another student, Christopher (Jack Bannon). This emotional link affects Turing for the remainder of his life. As an adult, as in school, relationships are difficult for Turing. Working on the Enigma forces Turing to work on a team, which he struggles to do, until he meets Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). Turing respects Joan for her brilliant mind, and with her relational skills she is able to bridge the gap between other team members and Turing.
Turing is an interesting historical figure. Not only did he change our world (he basically invented computers), but he was a homosexual man when homosexuality was illegal. The fear of discovery allowed him to be manipulated and hurt by people he trusted. Parents need to be aware that this topic becomes a significant theme in the movie, and will be something to discuss with your children should you choose to see it with them. The legality and freedom of homosexuality is as large a theme as Turing’s breaking of the Enigma code.
This movie certainly earned its spot as an Oscar nominee in 8 categories. Not only was the adapted screenplay well written and organized into a plot that displayed Alan Turing’s intricate personality and life, but the acting and directing were phenomenal. And while it makes no difference to the late Alan Turing, honoring his work during WWII seems appropriate in an age where we all benefit from his life’s work.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• Several times in the movie a character says, “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Tell about an ordinary person you know who has done something extraordinary.
• Alan Turing says people like violence because it feels good. Do you agree? Explain.
• It’s easy to compartmentalize and label someone by what they do or who they know. How does The Imitation Game challenge this thinking?
Tags: Alan Turing,Enigma Code,WWII,Homosexuality,Benedict Cumberbatch,Keira Knightley
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