The Imitation Game


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From the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

Yet another movie about Turing and the breaking of the Enigma code.

Now, don’t get me wrong. What Turing and his group did was amazing, and they changed the course of the war by figuring out the code. He gets top marks for that Chez Otter.

But is there anything new to say on the subject? Mr. Otter and I have seen at least two or three other movies and TV miniseries about him, his (illegal at the time) homosexuality, his supposed communist leanings and/or info leaks, his difficult personality, and also how he broke this extremely difficult code by inventing a type of calculator/computer that could figure it out in the time frame (it was changed every 24 hours.)

This was a well-made and well-written movie, beautifully filmed and, except for a regrettable scene where white-out was used to correct typewriting (Otter ground her teeth at that one) very historically accurate. Benedict Cumberbatch (who has the BEST NAME EVER in the Otter Family’s opinion) played Turing, and did a very good job of it, giving his extremely difficult personality enough human feeling for viewers to empathize with him.

But…did we really need another movie about this? Well, yes and no, I think. On the one hand, it’s been done before. On the other hand, with fan-favorite Cumberbatch in it, this will introduce Turing and what he did to a whole new generation.

But (and this is where the reality police come in and haul everyone away) it WAS NOT THE FIRST COMPUTER. Yes, they actually said this in the trailers for the movie, which made me shoot steam out of my ears. The Turing machine models algorithms, but is not itself a computer, and even if it were, it was a hundred and fifty years too late to be the FIRST computer.

But those are minor quibbles. If you don’t know this story, or are a Cumberbatch fan, or just like a well-written drama, you’ll enjoy this one.

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