Will It Make A Good Film?: The Imitation Game
Expected Release Date: November 28th
Director: Morten Tyldum
Based On: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Overview: Alan Turing, a mathematician, logician, philosopher, and cryptanalyst, was one of the premier minds of the 20th century. His code breaking methods and development of computer science proved pivotal to the Allies winning WWII. The ever curious Turing was a man who was as much interested in science as he was the human spirit. But his brilliant career was cut short when prosecution for his homosexuality led to his suicide. For decades Turing existed as little more than a footnote in the history of computing, until more recently. Without Turing’s algorithms and patterns, there would be no modern computer, no internet, or iPhone. Turing’s work not only shaped his era, but forever changed the world he left behind.
Working In Its Favor: Turing’s life will make for a fantastic and cinematic story if properly executed. Not only does it deal with the life of one of the world’s greatest minds who has yet to become a household name, but it also explores open sexuality in a time and country where such matters were unthinkable, especially for men of Turing’s status. Beyond the story itself, Benedict Cumberbatch is consistently proving to be one of the most talented and sought-after actors in Hollywood. Even if audiences aren’t familiar with Turing, Cumberbatch’s name, coupled with Kiera Knightly, will draw some crowds.
Potential Issues: Hodges biography is divided into two sections: The Logical and The Physical. Hodges makes it clear throughout the novel that Turing was a man invested in spirituality (not to be mistaken with religion) as much as science. He was not a man invested in power, and his contributions during the war were entirely independent of political gain. There was poetic nature to Turing (emphasized by the biography’s use of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass). My hope is that the movie stays true to this and doesn’t simply become a WWII film in which the war overshadows the personal life of a brilliant and sensitive man. In order to be truly successful, the film must balance Turing’s personal life with his career.
Secondly, Turing’s innovations are not simple to understand. The biography was written by a mathematician and it shows, sometimes creating a distance between the reader and Turing’s story. The film will have to find a way to make the film’s science and math understandable for the masses, but also factually accurate to satisfy the mathematicians and scientists, all while respecting Turing’s work
Wild Card: The wild-cards within the film are two of any film’s most important components: the director and the screenwriter. The Imitation Game marks director Tyldum’s first step into mainstream filmmaking (his previous films were well-reviewed Norwegian films). While the screenplay for The Imitation Game was on the 2011 blacklist, the script is Graham Moore’s first feature-length screenplay (though he did write the New York Times Best Seller The Sherlockian). While experience is no measure of talent, this film will prove important for both men’s careers.
Verdict: Will It Make A Good Film?: It has many of the elements of a good film and The Weinstein Company is releasing it just in time for Oscar season which is a good show of faith. If it can transcend the traditional pitfalls of biopics and avoid simplifying Turing, it should be quite memorable. And I have nothing but the highest of expectations for Cumberbatch’s performance, who is sure to be an Oscar contender.