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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for February, 2015

The Imitation Game ; 2014

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Director: Morten Tyldum
Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance
Country: United Kingdom

Today is the day of the Academy Awards and I went to watch The Imitation Game with my cousin. I didn’t know much about the film, except that Benedict Cumberbatch was in it, so I didn’t really care for it because nothing about it caught my interest and the title didn’t catch my eye either. I also didn’t know about Alan Turing, who I now find to be a very fascinating figure after reading about him after hearing an interview with Cumberbatch on Fresh Air. If it wasn’t for Fresh Air, I would have never watched this film. Thank goodness for my commute coinciding with Fresh Air on KPCC because I very much enjoyed this movie and the interview made me understand some scenes a bit better, such as the scenes of Turing running.

I jokingly hate on Cumberbatch due to his popularity on Tumblr but after listening to his interview on Fresh Air, I could see his appeal. I loved the interview and he did a great job selling this film (intentional or not) so I was itching to watch this movie and was curious about Cumberbatch as an actor since I’ve never seen him act. I never even heard his voice until the interview! I also like to hate on Keira Knightley for some irrational reason — I found her to be rather annoying in movies — but I realized that I should stop hating on her because I thought she was good in A Dangerous Method and I liked her a lot in this film. I always found her to be very pretty but in this film, her looks didn’t overshadow her performance, which I found to be nice since I stopped seeing her as just a pretty person but as an actress. It’s rather dehumanizing to just care about looks, no? So it’s nice that I wasn’t just like, “Oooh she is so pretty!” but more like, “Gosh, Joan Clarke is a fascinating character!”

What I loved about the movie was the script because at the beginning of the movie, Turing (Cumberbatch) says in a voice-over, “If you are not listening carefully, you will miss things […] When I am finished — when I have told you that I am finished — you are free to think whatever you like. But until then, you will trust that while this story will be hard for you to understand, everything I am saying I am saying for a reason. […] Pay attention.”
Why I find this beginning voice-over so important is because language is a key part of this film. Not only is the Enigma about language but the character of Turing is based on language. His childhood relationship with Christopher is based on language since it was Christopher that introduced him to cryptology and it was through his use of it that he was able to (or at least attempted to) reveal his feelings for Christopher. Turing names his machine “Christopher” is something to note too.
It is also through language that we see how Turing can’t get along with people around him but it is also through language that we see how his relationship with Clarke is different. Turing’s interview with Commander Denniston is hilarious for the audience (I really loved the comic moments in the film, which are also mostly based on, you guessed it, words) but you can see why Denniston dislikes Turing and why others are so turned off by him. I don’t think Turing dislikes people — it’s just that he cares for how words are phrased, which is why we come back to what he says in the beginning of the film: “everything I am saying I am saying for a reason”. When Cairncross asks Turing about going to lunch with him and the rest of Hut 8, he repeatedly says, “I said we were going to get some lunch?” and says, “I had asked if you wanted to have lunch with us.” and Turing says, “No you didn’t. You told me you were getting lunch.”
Even though it appears to be that Turing doesn’t know about social cues, with Clarke, he seems to understand how language works. Turing mentions how he is confused by language and in a scene, young Turing tells Christopher, “When people talk to each other they never say what they mean. They say something else. And you’re supposed to just know what they mean. Only, I never do.” but when he tries to get Clarke to be part of his team, he grasps how to play the game. He is able to say things so that Clarke’s parents can hear things they would want to hear so that Clarke can work at Bletchley Park. He’s also shown as a caring person when he asks Clarke to marry him so that she could continue her work and not be pestered by her parents. The way he breaks off his engagement to Clarke by using harsh words were on purpose. At first I didn’t understand why he said such nasty things to Clarke to end the engagement when Clarke was fine with the kind of marriage they would have (to be honest, it sounded like an awesome marriage to me!), but the scene when we see Clarke and Turing in the 1950s explained why he said such things. Can I just say that the scene with Clarke and Turing in the 50s was heartbreaking? I almost cried! When Turing can no longer do a crossword puzzle, you can see the horrors of the chemical castration and what it’s doing to a brilliant man. Turing wanted Clarke to have a normal life because he couldn’t have it and was possibly bitter about it (which is what I get since he realizes that he can’t get along with other people because he doesn’t understand social cues and what people mean when they say certain things) but Clarke turns it around and tells him how it is extraordinary people like him who save lives and do something great. I love how Clarke says what Turing tells her: “I think that sometimes it is the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
Of course, the script would not come alive if it weren’t for the stellar performances of the supporting actors and Cumberbatch because so much is said through words but through body language as well. Without such competent acting, the script would have fell flat.

I also LOVEDDDD the movie because of the portrayal of Clarke. The film made me think that Clarke was a person of note, brought to the forefront of how women were seen during the 1930s-1940s, and I even wondered why there weren’t movies about Clarke when she was as much of an interesting person as Turing. Like holy cow, this woman was brilliant but society was not appreciative of her intellect because she was a woman and I felt that the movie made sure that the viewers were very aware of this. Yay feminism!

Some people seem to have issues about this film because some people might say that this film doesn’t put enough emphasis on Turing’s sexual orientation but I liked that it wasn’t all ~in your face~ about it because I saw the focus of this film to be about language and what it took to break the Enigma. I can see why people might be upset because it might not be… gay enough (?)… but what I thought was good about the film was that it might open up people’s minds about a sexual orientation that isn’t heterosexuality. It portrays a man who had to suffer for something that was seen as a crime and it’s heartbreaking to see a brilliant man turn into a shell of himself at the end of the film and I hope the film makes people who are against homosexuality to think that people who are gay are not bad and aren’t sinners or what have you. One can’t help but think that it’s wrong that Turing has to go through “hormone therapy” because what he did was seen as indecent. Just because someone is gay, does it mean that it is right to ruin a brilliant man? I’d say, “Nope nope nope.” When Turing asks Detective Nock, “Am I a war hero? Am I a criminal?”, Nock says that he can’t judge him and while Turing realizes that Nock can’t help him with the criminal charges, at least Nock acknowledges his indecision, which I see as a reflection of the possibility for people to open their minds about homosexuality. I found Turing to be a likeable character, which I think makes homosexuality more approachable (erm… I don’t know if I’m phrasing my thoughts well) to people who might be uncomfortable about it. A small step, but an important step in my eyes. Just my opinion.

Should this film win the Oscar for best picture? In my eyes, no. Out of the Best Picture films that I have watched (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and now The Imitation Game), I think Birdman should get the Oscar but I think that Boyhood will get it. Or maybe Whiplash? I don’t know what Whiplash is about (Except that it’s about a drummer? That’s what I gathered from a quick glance of the poster.) so maybe that will win? If American Sniper wins, I might roll my eyes. Actually, I’m pretty sure I will. I’m so judgmental, hahaha!
Should Benedict Cumberbatch win for Best Actor? I have no clue but I loved how his acting seemed so effortless. After a few scenes, I forgot that he was Cumberbatch but saw him as Turing because his acting seemed so naturalistic. It wasn’t even like acting but seeing someone naturally, which I think is a sign of good acting. If I’m forgetting that someone is acting, that means that they’re doing an great job, right?!

Anyway, I really, REALLY enjoyed this film and I want to rewatch it. I wouldn’t mind buying a DVD of it if it has good special features!

IMDb Link: The Imitation Game