“Are you paying attention?” Because you’re going to have to be. The Imitation Game is a biopic/drama about the World War II efforts of the extraordinary mathematician, Alan Turing. I’ll start by stating what you can probably guess in that Benedict Cumberbatch plays this lead role fantastically. I’ll get into more detail on that later. What I find so fascinating about this film is how and when Tyldum strategically reveals specific information to his audience throughout the narrative. How he establishes meaning is through metaphor which is why I should remind you, to really pay attention if and when you watch this film.
On the surface, The Imitation Game gives us an insightful look into a network of World War II efforts that we may never have known about before. At least I had not, but I’m not exactly a history buff. This aspect of the film is more than enough to have me entertained, however there is so much more depth to this story.
Turing’s character is portrayed as a bit of a sociopath, unable to connect with others. He has difficulty understanding the most basic types of human interaction which casts him as an outsider right from the beginning of the film. As the story continues, we see more of his struggle as his plan to design and build a machine that will break the German’s enigma code and end the war is continuously delayed due to the lack of faith people have in him. Because of this, he does not have much patience for people. He is arrogant and overly honest which tends to insult almost anyone he meets. Despite these traits, there is something about Turing that makes us feel sympathy for him, a fact that is not exactly clear to us until later on in the film when Tyldum finally reveals what is really going on with Turing and his sociopathic mind.
Below the surface, there is an underlying thematic issue that is present. Tyldum could have easily revealed it both deliberately and early on in the film but there is a reason why he instead used metaphor to explore it. He did not want this part of the story to be the main focus of the film and when you figure out what it is I’m talking about, I hope you see the brilliance of it like I do. There is almost a code word that is used throughout the film that functions to reinforce this underlying message into the minds of the audience, perhaps without them even knowing it.
There is so much more I could say about this film, but not without revealing too much information and after all, the secretive nature of this film’s messages are what makes it so mind-blowing and inspiring. We must break Tyldum’s code just like Turing must break Enigma. The only thing more I can say is to emphasize that this film has so much to offer and if you watch it once and do not get what I’m saying, watch it again, and again. I may be biased because any film that gives me such immense meaning, especially through subtle metaphors, I can’t help but just eat it up. But I have to be honest, there was not one instance in the film where I thought something could have been done differently to make the film better. The execution of cinematography, editing, soundtrack, plot structure, mise en scéne, etc. felt to be exactly what the narrative called for. This is a story about the harsh realities and consequences of a highly ignorant society, courage, strength, friendship and most of all trusting and believing in yourself when no one else will. Please see this film, and when I say that, I mean really see it for all that it is showing you.