Rapid Review: Codebreaker (2011)

codebreaker poster

“I think if you find a person like that – and I don’t think everybody does find one – in fact I think it’s terribly rare, then all you thought before, all your plans for yourself, you realize they were just filling a gap, they were just something for you to do while you were waiting for this person.”
– Alan Turing

SYNOPSIS: The highs and lows of Alan Turing’s life, tracking his extraordinary accomplishments, his government persecution through to his tragic death in 1954. In the last 18 months of his short life, Turing visited a psychiatrist, Dr. Franz Greenbaum, who tried to help him. Each therapy session in this drama documentary is based on real events. The conversations between Turing and Greenbaum explore the pivotal moments in his controversial life and examine the pressures that may have contributed to his early death. The film also includes the testimony of people who actually knew and remember Turing. Plus, this film features interviews with contemporary experts from the world of technology and high science including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. These contributors bring Turing’s exciting impact up to the present day, explaining why, in many ways, modern technology has only just begun to explore the potential of Turing’s ideas. – via IMDB

codebreaker

GRADE 7.5Okay, I need to say something that has been said plenty of times, right off the bat, before I can discuss the documentary further. The British government ought to be ashamed of themselves for what they put Alan Turning through, and it is disgusting that it took them so many decades to apologise to him, you know, because it is never too later for saying sorry for robbing someone of their life, and robbing the world of his brilliance. Turing was a fascinating man who made immeasurable contributions to the technology that we know today and take for granted most times, and it is criminal that, after all that he did, he was treated like a leper. The fact that people react so strongly to homosexuality, to this day, is completely beyond me. Granted, the States just moved over to allowing same sex marriages, but the winning margin was so thin, and as many people that are joyous about it, in this day an age, there is still a bitter lot. Moving on from that aspect of it, Codebreaker was a really good documentary. Granted, it didn’t focus too much on the Enigma code or any of that, and didn’t look at too much of Turing’s work too in depth, but it told you more about it, constantly referencing how Turing’s work has influenced the day and age we are in now, and how it was shaped by his ideas, and driving home his contributions. It also focused a lot on Turing’s sexuality, which was ultimately a huge reason that Turing decided to end his life, and a large cause of where his normal life started to derail. I know that a lot of emphasis was placed on his homosexuality, but it has a profound effect on the outcome of his life and hence could not be overlooked for any reason. Codebreaker filled in more of the blanks, the parts I complained about in The Imitation Game, where things happened, events jumped around, it didn’t flow smoothly, where this dramatized documentary showed more of the order of events and occurrences. I think that Ed Stoppard and Henry Goodman were excellent and did wonders for the dramatization and deserve credit for it. If anyone would like a more detailed look at the man that Turing was, this is a great watch, and for anyone that wants a quick rundown of Turing, who has no previous knowledge, this is a really good way to get up to speed.

Rapid Review: The Imitation Game (2014)

the imitation game poster

“Advise about keeping secrets: it’s a lot easier if you don’t know them in the first place.”
– Alan Turing

SYNOPSIS: Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. – via IMDB

the imitation game

GRADE 7Finally got around to seeing this, and I must admit that I did enjoy it. I was looking forward to it not only for Cumberbatch (though yes, big draw) but because I have covered Turing and some of his work for my studies, and I find it fascinating. So a movie on the man? To find out more? I was sold. The Imitation Game had a great cast working for it, and I enjoyed what they all brought to the screen. I did not want to throttle Keira Knightley, which was a really weird experience for me. Cumberbatch, obviously, stole the whole show here, and presented Alan Turing in a wonderful manner. He made you laugh, he made you feel sorry for him, and he never lost you along the way. His interactions with Charles Dance were simply too amusing for words. I was happy to see Allen Leech in here, too, and Matthew Goode was more entertaining than I can explain – his character Hugh Alexander definitely did not get along with Turing at all. Watching Turing’s whole team was a treat, from the exasperation, frustration, and finally admiration, the journey is quite a sweet one. Turing’s story is fascinating, and Morten Tyldum did a good job of conveying it to the audience without necessarily losing you along the way, but he certainly brought nothing fresh or new to the table, which was also quite disappointing from time to time. It is very formulaic at times, but that doesn’t necessarily cripple the movie. Sometimes there was also an issue of things happening in a totally nonsensical manner, but we were expected to buy into it because that was how they had to tell the story. I suppose there isn’t really time to flesh it all out perfectly, but occasionally discoveries and actions just felt forced. The Imitation Game obviously focused on WWII and the machine that decoded the Nazi Enigma code, as well as the code-breakers that worked incessantly and fruitlessly on it for so long, but did not necessarily explore more of Turing’s work. Also, do not go into this thinking you are going to get the average war movie, you will be sorely disappointed. This movie is about Turing, his work, and parts of his life. This didn’t thrill me as I was hoping it would, seeing how it has been pretty much universally loved. While not a perfect movie, it is engaging and well presented, and deserves a look, at least once, even if just to get more people familiar with Turing.