Imitation Game: A Review

Imitation Game is a very good movie that follows a very traditional Hollywood model. Many changes might take place in the world but it’s comforting to know that Hollywood movies will not deviate even by a hair’s breadth from the tested and true model.  I’m not entirely happy that I went, though, because N had no idea why Turing had killed himself and now that he’s found out he is extremely sad.

On the positive side, the actor who plays teenage Turing is truly talented. I hope he sticks with acting because he has a great future in it.

In what relates to the collapse of the nation-state  (what, did you think it wasn’t going to make an appearance?), the film offers a very curious retelling of WWII from today’s understanding of war not as a series of grand battles but, rather, as a game played by complex
machines operated by nerds who never see any military action. The actual soldiers have descended from their pedestal of heroes and have become unimportant pawns who will only live if the nerds allow them to. The true war heroes are now gadgets and those who know how to use them.

Of course, in order for such a plot to make any sense at all it has to be pinned together rather inelegantly from very incongruous elements. The Soviet spy crammed into the middle of everything in quite a jarring manner allows the story to remain somewhat believable  (but only if you flunked history in high school). It doesn’t matter, however, because the movie isn’t about history. It’s about a new vision of warfare trying to colonize the past and impose itself over previous narratives.

Highly recommended but with a warning that the ending is very tragic.

13 thoughts on “Imitation Game: A Review

  1. Is the actor Benedict Cumberbatch? (I think he’s in that movie.) If so, I think he’s awesome! If you like that actor, I highly recommend the BBC update Sherlock. It stars and Cumberbatch and is a very entertaining and smart update of the Sherlock Holmes stories.


    1. I boycott most things Cumberbatch because he is an incredibly shitty human being. An actor who describes autism as “basically being a man-child” and compares autistics to Frankenstein’s monster isn’t one I’m interested in following.


  2. Poor N! I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I learned about Turing for a computer class last year. What they did to him was shameful to say the least!


  3. He killed himself because he was chemically castrated after being convicted of being gay.

    The UK has posthumously pardoned him (and just him) for the crime of gross indecency on 2013. Which I’m sure makes all the difference.

    Still, it was a life well-lived.


    1. according to wikipedia (caveat, wikipedia) the “treatment” had ended 14 months before his death which may have been accidental. The idea that he might have been reenacting Snow White is very unsettling.

      Steve Sailer’s review (caveat, unperson) suggests that post WWII egalitarianism played a large role in the criminal charges as the rise of the working class coincided with less tolerance for homosexual behavior (mostly tolerated among the pre WWII upper classes Turing came from).


    2. The movie also shows him as autistic (and does it in a very awkward overdone way.) The teenage actor played an autistic Turing perfectly while the adult actor botched the whole thing because of how much he was overdoing it.


  4. You might do better with reading about the Bletchley Park gang that included Alan Turing — there are several books on Turing’s work on Enigma as well as the Bletchley Park gang in general …

    I remember one book called “Codebreakers” that covered the efforts at Bletchley Park in a reasonably accurate way.

    Turing and von Neumann were indispensable when it comes to the knowledge necessary to create the first computer of the type we know today, although it was actually Konrad Zuse who created the first workable Turing-complete system we’d think of as a “mainframe” relative to today.

    Anyway, the Enigma work was the most infamous thing Turing did, but he also influenced the breaking of the Lorenz SZ systems that were used for diplomatic cryptography.

    Recovery from known plaintexts and known ciphertexts is now an accepted practice for attempting to break block ciphers as well as now obsolete rotor ciphers.

    There’s also this little thing he worked on:

    “… the Entscheidungsproblem can also be viewed as asking for an algorithm to decide whether a given statement is provable from the axioms using the rules of logic.”

    “In 1936, Alonzo Church and Alan Turing published independent papers showing that a general solution to the Entscheidungsproblem is impossible, assuming that the intuitive notion of ‘effectively calculable’ is captured by the functions computable by a Turing machine (or equivalently, by those expressible in the lambda calculus). This assumption is now known as the Churchโ€“Turing thesis.”

    Also, it’s amusing to visit various “spy museums” if only to let them know that the “Steckerverbindungen” (plug board on the front) sets the transposition matrix for the cipher, and that if you’re missing this part of the Enigma, you don’t actually have a working machine, despite any claims to the contrary.

    Also also, if you don’t have all of the plug cables for the “Steckerverbindungen”, even if you have a fully working machine otherwise, it still doesn’t work. ๐Ÿ™‚

    [takes my Secret Squirrel hat off and quite possibly leaves Clarissa amused]



      1. Here’s the potentially cool thing you might have missed in all that …

        Turing and Church were working on a problem that, if it were solvable, would have meant that we could have had machines to do our thinking for us. Not just a little thinking, mind you, but all of the heavy, heavy stuff as well.

        What they showed instead is that although you can build a machine that will solve a narrow set of problems for you (such as a custom encryption cracker or a Rubik’s cube solver, for instance), you can’t actually build one that’s the Solve Everything Machine.

        Which, as you might now suspect, was somewhat of a relief, especially for those prickly philosophers who were worried that Deep Thought would put them out of a job.

        Oh, wait … ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Fine, Clarissa, you asked for it … ๐Ÿ™‚

    now appearing in
    (or is that really full infantile-depressive fascism?)

    See the collusion of corporate capital and the state’s will to power!
    Observe the government bureaucrat in his native paper-covered burrow!
    Watch as the elite encipher themselves to the confusion of the populace!
    Enjoy a full ration of government cheese!


    [your postcard from the front lines is now ready]


  6. I saw it the same night that I watched Pride, which is a film about another, less well-known piece of British gay history, that of the lesbian and gay activists who helped families affected by the British miner strike.
    … I liked Pride a lot better, not only as a better film overall, but I thought it handled the issues of sexuality a lot better than The Imitation Game did. Queerness seemed like an afterthought to the screenwriters and the film’s treatment seemed very formulaic and ham-fisted compared to Pride.


  7. Great cast. Cumberbatch’s spellbinding performance is supported by a raft of equally brilliant cast members. This is one of those rare films where each role has been cast pretty much perfectly.


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