No Game for Real

If you haven't seen Benedict Cumberbatch act - you've missed out on one of England's most highly talented actors. Those who have been privileged to watch him play Sherlock Holmes on BBC Television will already know the sheer brilliance with which he plays the part. (He's so good in fact, the I am gonna get around to writing a blog dedicated just to the series). But I digress; He may not be a household name yet, but trust me, he's going to be.

Cumberbatch strikes again in the almost forgotten, but true story of Alan Turing who is considered by many to be the genius behind the modern day computer. 

The film, co-starring Kiera Knightley, is set during the height of a battle ravaged World War II Europe, and recounts the process by which Turing was able to do what no other code-breaker in Europe had been able to achieve - break the enigma code. Up until then Hitler's twisted idea of a glorified world under the Third Reich regime was sweeping across the European landscape with largely unrivaled success. 

The Nazi juggernaut's combined forces pulverized the unprepared allies with Luftwaffe Air blitzes dominating the skies, U-boats slaughtering allied ships and subs, and the infiltration of Germany's neighboring countries. The Enigma Machine, an invention of the 1920's was welcomed by the German's, and became their most successful communication tool for delivering encrypted military messages to its troops. As the German armed forces moved across the continent, England hired teams of code-breakers and installed them in the highly secretive Bletchley Park in a concerted effort to break the code. 

Turing arrives on the scene and his acerbic personality quickly alienates his peers. His mind thinks completely outside the mathematician box and his methodologies are unorthodox. While the other code-breakers are racking their brains around the clock to solve the puzzle, Turing focuses his efforts in the opposite direction, and it is precisely this opposition that keeps him outside the code-breaker's inner circle. Turing doesn't care. He forms an unlikely friendship with brilliant female code-breaker Joan Clarke (played by Knightley), whose dedication to the cause is only second to his own. 

Cumberbatch ate up the part in a raw diet of tortured intensity that allowed you to catch glimpses of the man Turing was. He was consumed with the idea of solving the code and failure was not remotely on the table. Like most geniuses (think Steve Jobs), his personality left much to be desired, and he battled inner demons, but his invention was planetary in its impact. Cumberbatch rightly deserved the Oscar nod he received
 for his taunt depiction of the inventor. Some of my favorite Brit-actors were part of the cast, Matthew Goode (Leap Year), Mark Strong (Robin Hood, 2010), and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones). Knightley turned in a respectable performance as the only female member of the team, but in my opinion this was not her best role. 

Interspersed with the story is Turing's private struggles because he is gay in a time period when being gay was against the law. Some have criticized the film for not making Turing's homosexuality a more prominent part of the story. I disagree. The Imitation Game was crafted to focus around a great inventor; it was not a film about a gay man who was a genius, but around a genius who happened to be gay. Turing's legacy transcends the sands of time with an extraordinary invention he developed that ultimately pioneered the road to today's computer technology.

The film was one of the most nominated of the Academy Award's 2015 season with 8 nominations including Best Actor for Cumberbatch and Best Supporting Actress for Knightley. It also scored 219 million at the box office world wide - which isn't half bad for a film about a geek. It was released to DVD in March and if you haven't seen it yet - DO. Cumberbatch sizzles in the part, the story captures a fascinating period of history, and for the love of God...catch him in Sherlock Holmes - you won't be disappointed. 

In the Know...
  • The first 3 seasons of Sherlock Holmes are available on Netflix.
  • Two thirds of the code breakers working at Bletchley Park during WWII were women.
  • Other Cumberbatch works: Amazing Grace, Star Trek Into Darkness, Atonement


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