There is a thing about Genius. They are always probably the first of the human kind who can see how things are not just wrong in the world but can also be bettered. That is their win and their romance. Strangely it is their romantic win that makes them the ultimate losers. And that’s the tragedy they will have to deal with, something even the future generations after them will have to deal with, because geniuses have always been too bloody good for their times to be easily understood.
Alan Turing of The Imitation Game is that genius. He is an older version of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, lacking the indifferent sense of humor of the British running into World War II. Wronged because he has a separate way to look at things, the problem of being Alan is that he completely understands the mindset of those who wrong him – time and again. His weakness however is that he never has been gifted with the ways of winning them over, except through his work and single minded dedication to it. And so he has to find his own way of cracking the Enigma code of the German’s indigenous information decrypting machine that was beating the Allies black and blue. Break the code and the Allied Powers had the war in their kitty.
For the normal world, the Second World War was killing thousands of Jews and more number of soldiers from across the world. The war for Alan Turing was with the limitations of human mind, of those who seem to understand him, but are out to get him at their first chance. Because you see he is no different from Herr Hitler. In fact he even utters the dialogue “…because we can” ditto like the German Dictator did. But unlike Hitler he was not trying to win over countries or spread a specific flag across the earth, he wanted to celebrate the possibility of having created an alternative brain. His intellect already had derived that the human mind is incapable of making a valid judgment without bias developed with the necessity to live in a saner society, and that human morals create wars, while the morals of his kind create pieces that can imitate God’s greatest invention. (Oh by the way if he created something that could imitate humans, what would that make Alan?)
Yet despite his follies, he finds friends, men who are ready to invest in his genius and a woman, Joan Clarke, who wants to be someone on her own. You could call her a genius too – for the times she was living in. They all help him get over the limitations of the war mongers, the so-called peace keepers. Yet every time he found a solution he has had to face a new opposition, and every time it is bigger than the previous one. So Alan’s friends come up with something, holding him away from their biased judgements as much as they could. Together, from being unnecessary expenditure of a war to playing Gods with the lives of millions – they win. But even they too can’t help him for a secret that he holds deep down in his heart. And there is only one bigger tragedy that being a genius, it is being born a genius with a secret. Alan Turing was a homosexual in a country that couldn’t accept his ‘indecency’.
Production design, the editing, the visual effects and whatever those popular films from Hollywood are made of are absolutely top notch in The Imitation Game, but there are three great winners who stand out. 1. The ensemble cast – Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Matt Goode and every one else along with the lead pair. 2. The Lead Pair. Benedict Cumberbatch, the Sherlock from BBC’s Sherlock. He is as good here. Oh no he is better. He holds the self-defeating secret in his eyes through out the film like it has been killing him for ages. Keira Knightley shows how terrific actors can reshape everything about the story they tell just with one scene towards the end. 3. The screenplay. An adaptation of Alan Turing: The Enigma, Graham Moore’s story of Alan Turing jumps time at the most unexpected moments. There is the code, and the genius of course has to break it. Alan Turing broke it. Else his story wouldn’t have been told in the first place. But that’s just how the story works at a physical level. At what cost? That’s the intellectual part of it. What did this loss cause him – the secret that ruined his lust for life and his lust to make a difference? That’s the emotional part of it. And what does his story say about human condition? – Ah! There in lies the beauty – the spirit of The Imitation Game. It warns us, though sparsely with cliched dialogue.
And for whiners who want to look at deep into his dark side – stop being a voyeur and think about this: we rarely get a glimpse of Alan Turing without him being with someone else or something else – but of course that’s how any screenplay externalizes a conflict. But the decision to not to go further into his homosexuality works in the film’s favor irrespective of whether it was well planned out for an effect or if it was pure safe play to get a PG13+ rating. As a result we only see a tortured genius from the eyes of those who could only guess and judge what he could be inside, almost like Citizen Kane. But the real rosebud is that The Imitation Game is not just about him but also about how when we as a civilization are faced with an enigma – what we do with it, what gives us the power to do something or anything about it and who suffers in the end.