Before I begin to break down my thoughts about the film, I’d like to point something out as I know it’s been featured in a number of articles about The Imitation Game. While I am semi-familiar with Turing’s story, as I am working my way through the biography that this film was based upon, I am not finished reading it. Thus, I am not in a good position to judge the specific historical accuracies of the film’s events and place my opinions on them, and will not be commenting on those facts in this review. I have to judge the film on its own merits. Now we may begin.
The Imitation Game is, to put it simply, a phenomenal film. Frankly, it’s a work of art.
The overall story and the way that it was put together was perfect. It was heart-wrenching when necessary, tense at times, but it also had inspirational as well as light-hearted moments. Turing’s opening monologue was brilliant and the best possible opening this film could have had. In my view, it can be taken in two different ways. The first is that Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is speaking to the police, as the date of the speech seems to be when his court case began. The other way, and potentially the more impactful of the two, is that Turing is speaking directly to the film’s audience. I certainly felt that way in the theatre, and while I have nothing against Turing or would have interrupted, the speech still cut under my skin. In order to retain the full impact of the speech in the event you decide to watch this film (and you should), I will not be including the entire thing here. However, in the interest of teasing and encouraging you to view the film:
“What I need from you now is a commitment. You will listen closely and you will not judge me until I am finished.”
Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing is, frankly, one of his best performances that I have seen. No wonder he received a nomination for Best Actor. I hope he wins the Oscar.
Some may have expected Turing and Benedict’s Sherlock to be similar, but there are still large differences that make the two of them seem completely unrelated to one another. While his entire performance is amazing, there are several moments that stood out form the rest of the film. The first is, of course, the opening monologue. The second would be when Denniston storms in to take Turing away from the machine. The third of these moments is when the police officer is sitting with Turing in the interrogation room.
The final moment that stands out is probably the most poignant of them all, and ties together a number of elements throughout the film as a whole. Without giving too much away, it comes in Turing’s final scene with Joan Clarke, when he explains he’s not alone.
The film is spliced in a couple of ways, making for a polished final product. The first is between the future (Alan’s future after the war), the past (Alan’s school days), and the present (World War 2). This, I think, is the right choice rather than strictly keeping to chronological order, for a number of reasons including timing in the movies, as well as the emotional weight that it brings with the flashes. The other piece of splicing The Imitation Game uses is what looks to be real footage form the war. If this is the case, brilliant, and if the footage is not actually real… well, congratulations on making it look like you have real footage.
The film sent shivers down my spine on numerous occasions. This is a clear indicator to me that I am watching a good film (barring comedies) as it rarely happens. I also teared up during a couple moments, and my heart was heavy for awhile afterwards. Not only is this significant for any film, but it is even more so for The Imitation Game for one simple reason: I knew what was coming at the end of the film and yeti t still garnered a noticeable ration from me, which I know would not have occurred if the film had been anything less than phenomenal.
There is one other thing that I would like to pull from the film. I will not be including much context, once again in the interest of not spoiling the film for anyone more than I feel is necessary, but I do think that it is important enough to highlight.
“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine.”
A beautiful though, a beautiful philosophy. My favourite films all leave me with something beyond strictly what was shown onscreen. What I mean by that is they have ways of thinking, or a lesson, that I can take away and out of the exact context and still be left…changed, so to speak. This thought here is what The Imitation Game has provided and, combined with the overall film itself and its importance, garners The Imitation Game a spot in my top three favourite films.
Finally, I would like to say one thing on the subject of Alan Turing. This man, in my opinion, is one of the unsung heroes of history. His contributions to our society both during the War and after it, are potentially beyond exact compare. I feel saddened by what happened to him after the war, and I so wish that things could have been different. And while I cannot say that Alan Turing would have liked recognition (he seems to me like he was selfless and courageous beyond belief)…I wish he could have seen appreciation. I wish people could have known about what he was able to do while he was still alive.
My hat goes off to you, Alan Turing.