Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Imitation Game (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“The Imitation Game”
Gives You Something
To Think About

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

As I sit here typing on my computer, I have to remind myself I don’t owe this device to Steve Jobs. The guy to thank is a British mathematician named Alan Turing.

Turing invented the computer as a tool for cracking German code during World War II. He succeeded, decrypting the supposedly unbreakable Enigma machines that the Nazi used to communicate their troop movements.

But it wasn’t easy.

First of all, nobody wanted to hire him. After all, he was an odd duck. Arrogant, not a team player, a little off. He got the job by going over his military boss’s head, straight to Winston Churchill. He defied them by hiring a woman, a mathematician almost as smart as he was (maybe smarter).

He had this idea for a newfangled machine that could think faster than Enigma. Most of his co-workers thought he was a crackpot, but eventually they came around.

Some coworkers at the Government Code and Cypher School suspected him of being a spy. Or his girlfriend (the woman he hired). Something was off.

Yes, he had a secret. But it wasn’t that.

A historical fact (spoiler alert?), it turns out he was gay. And his thanks for cracking the code that saved millions of lives was chemical castration. The law in England at the time. Tragic, but true.

The movie about this is called “The Imitation Game.” It’s playing at the Tropic.

Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Fifth Estate,” “August Osage County”) portrays Turing to a T. A brilliant performance as always.

Keira Knightly (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) is Joan Clarke, the woman in question. A solid performance as usual.

Back in 2011, “The Imitation Game” was considered the best unproduced screenplay in Hollywood (the so-called Black List). It finally fell into the hands of Black Bear Productions, who attached Norwegian director Morten Tyldum to the picture. In a bidding war against five other studios, the Weinstein brothers picked it up.

It won “The People’s Choice Award for Best Film” at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s indeed one of the best films I’ve seen this year.

The title comes from a 1950 paper Alan Turing wrote about artificial intelligence. It began: “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?’ This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms ‘machine’ and ‘think.’”

After seeing the movie, you’ll be asking yourself, “Can people think straight?”

1 comment:

Naomi said...

I believe people will learn a lot from this film.
If we trust our inner instinct and not value ourselves by what others think of us we can live to our highest potential.
I only wish Turing lived long enough to see how much of an impact he made on the world-