“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”Alan Turing
On June 23rd, 1912, the “father” of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence was born. Alan Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, cryptanalyst and philosopher. He provided a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine. Despite these accomplishments, he was never fully recognized in his home country during his lifetime due to his homosexuality and because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.
The Imitation Game is a historical drama film based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing: The Enigma. The title of the film quotes the name of the game Alan Turing proposed for answering the question “Can machines think?”, in his 1950 seminal paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”.
Graham Moore’s screenplay skips between three distinct periods: Turing’s schooldays, where he tells close friend Christopher that people are like cryptographic puzzles; his time at Bletchley park, and the nail-biting adventures of the celebrated “Hut 8”; and the aftermath of the 1952 break-in at Turing’s Manchester home, which alerted the police to his homosexuality, with appalling consequences.
Granted a posthumous royal pardon for his “gross indecency” conviction only a few years ago, the mathematician and AI pioneer changed the course of the Second World War only to suffer the indignities of arrest and “chemical castration”, dying in 1954 having apparently taken a bite from a poisoned apple.
Yet The Imitation Game is not a tragedy – rather, it is a celebration of Turing’s extraordinary achievements that makes an admirably firm fist of establishing its spiky subject as a heroic outsider. That it why it is one of my favourite historical movies, definitely worth watching!
Tell us your favourite historical/biography movies in the comments!