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The Imitation Game

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During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.







Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
  • During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.
  • Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.
  • Three specific time periods in the life of Cambridge University Mathematics professor Alan Turing are presented. The first is the span of WWII, at the beginning of which he, an expert of puzzle solving, is hired by the British government to work within a team whose secret project is to break what is largely seen as an unbreakable Nazi code machine, named Enigma, which would give the Allies an advantage and possibly end the war. The problem: Enigma is recoded every day. Even if the team can decipher a coded message, that code would be obsolete the next day, and there are quintillions of possible new code settings that could be input. Largely arrogant, antisocial, solitary and literal-minded, Alan is the bane of the team’s existence, especially to his superior, Commander Denniston, and Hugh Alexander, the team’s initial leader. While Hugh and the rest strive to break the day-to-day codes (believing it the only way to learn the secret of Enigma), Alan works alone to develop a machine with a somewhat artificial intelligence, which he believes is required to break any code input into Enigma. Alan must convince Denniston to fund a machine costing a hefty £100,000 to build. The tone of the team slowly changes with the inclusion of Joan Clarke, the only female. She not only adds another brilliant mind to the mix but provides Alan social guidance on how to behave to get things done. Traditional values threaten Joan’s participation – not by any chauvinistic regard from her male team members but by a view of her place in the world as someone’s wife from her conventional parents. The second time period is 1928, when Alan is a youth attending boarding school. Even then, he is seen as different and bullied accordingly. His only real friend (and secret crush) is Christopher Morcom, for whom Alan will later name his code-breaking machine. The third time period is 1951, when Alan’s Manchester home is reported broken into by his neighbor. With nothing stolen, Alan’s quick dismissal causes Detective Robert Nock to believe he’s hiding something. What follows has far reaching consequences for Alan’s life as Nock digs to find what’s hidden beneath the lack of surface information.
  • During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing joins a team of code-breakers at a top-secret facility at Bletchley Park to try deciphering the code of the German Enigma machine. Turing is a homosexual genius and, during two years, he and his team successfully develop another machine to decipher Enigma.
  • Out in the world, one who is compelled to create is considered abnormal. Society is hard on the non-conformist. A creator may solve impossible puzzles with his brain or write symphony; he turns nothing into something. Success in his endeavor may result in the masses of society clustering at the median to call him “genius.” But, beware: this means they can neither understand the achievement nor hope to equal the mind who made it. The same masses who eagerly accept his gifts with the one hand will turn around and push him into a snake pit with the other. Such is the cautionary tale of Alan Mathison Turing, master of the puzzle and father of the modern computer.
  • In 1939, newly created British intelligence agency MI6 recruits Cambridge mathematics alumnus Alan Turing to crack Nazi codes, including Enigma — which cryptanalysts had thought unbreakable. Turing’s team, including Joan Clarke, analyze Enigma messages while he builds a machine to decipher them. Turing and team finally succeed and become unsung heroes, but in 1952, their quiet genius leader encounters disgrace when authorities drive him to his death for being gay.

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