English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.
"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."
Secrets within secrets. The story of how one man's genius and foresight helped win the war with what Churchill called the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany. What is extraordinary about this film is that no one knew of Alan Turing's role until recently when the official secrets act released his files 50 years on. Even though it is a travesty that he was not recognised until now i am not surprised it was kept secret. This is the true story of a man who broke an unbreakable code with a machine he built paving the way to many modern day inventions including the computer. The events that come after I found even more shocking, humbling and chilling. Through this man's amazing story you see how war is won and lost with ruthlessness, calculation, sacrifice and secrecy. Many a battle is lost it seems to win a war. In this case also, like many others forgotten heroes , the establishment use their finest minds and then discard when no longer needed. There seems to be no loyalty or thanks or reward although for the people of Bletchley park loyalty to their country was I believe enough.
The reason I have not mentioned the actual film yet is because the story for me made a bigger impact than the film if that makes sense. However there is an exceptionally strong cast with Benedict Cumberbatch underplaying Turin brilliantly with a quiet offbeat intensity. Kiera Knightly, Charles Dance and Matthew Goode amongst others who add their weight to the cast. The story flows from Turing being bullied at school and his first crush to being recruited by MI6 to help break the Enigma code and then back to him being arrested for indecent behavior due to his homosexuality which was illegal in the UK up until 1967.
Turing was a brilliant mathematician amongst other talents, a real Renaissance Man of his age. However he was also antisocial and very difficult to get on with which added to his terrible loneliness and feeling of isolation. This leads to some great pivotal scenes of him and his team clashing before succeeding in solving the enigma codes. The most chilling part comes after they crack the code and the next faze called Ultra. A logical system whereby they chose what information to pass on and what not to so the Germans would not realise they had cracked the code. The enormity of what they had to do, the sacrifice of so many people, the weight of responsibility of who lives and who dies for the greater good i found difficult to digest. It is why we are not told how exactly wars and battles are won. The normal person in the street would find it unpalatable. It is naive to think anyone can win a war without bloody decisions being made on both sides but the decisions over life and death were shown to be uncomfortably clinical.
The other side of the story was of the man himself. He wanted to have company but his talent and brilliant mind stopped him from connecting with people on a social level. His arrest for indecency in the 1950's because he was a homosexual was shameful on so many levels but primarily because the government would have known and surely could have stepped in and swept it under the carpet. But no, he was chemically castrated and his reputation in tatters.That was the thanks this nation gave him for his service.
This story speaks of how those of us who are different, unique or special can be isolated and rejected because of how society finds it difficult to understand or accept difference.
A story of two halves. A man who fulfilled his intellectual promise but who was unable to connect with the world at large. Unique and misunderstood I hope this film helps put Alan Turing back into the history books where he truly belongs alongside other renaissance men who have enriched our lives while sacrificing their own. History will be his judge and thankfully kinder to him than his contemporaries.
This is a must watch film that is enlightening and humbling. I am sure this will get loads of awards but the biggest award for this film is that it brought such an extraordinary man to the public's attention so we could honor him the way he should have been in his lifetime.
The Queen gave Alan Turing a long overdue pardon in 2013 for which his family must gain some comfort.
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