As a genius young mathematician, life for Alan Turing (played by Alex Lawther and Benedict Cumberbatch) at his English Boarding School is utter hell … his classmates are violent bullies and he retreats into his own, more familiar and positive world of maths. One day, a classmate who becomes a true friend, Christopher Morcom (by Jack Bannon) introduces Alan to the world of cryptology – codes, patterns and text that can seem like gibberish until the reader deciphers it. Alan’s world suddenly broadens and deepens – he’s found his real flair and can build on his maths talent with this. Alan works his way through University and becomes a published academic. When World War 2 breaks out, British Military Intelligence sets up a top secret code-breaking centre at Bletchley Park that intercepts Nazi communications to decipher the intelligence for their own military strategies. Alan gets a job at the centre and sets about the biggest challenge of the war – find the key to “Enigma” the unbreakable Nazi encryption code. Although he’s a unique type of man with personality foibles that very few understand – not least of which his Commanding Officer, Denniston (by Charles Dance), he recruits a team of fellow genius mathematicians – Hugh Alexander (by Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (by Allen Leech), Peter Hilton (by Matthew Beard) and Joan Clarke (by Keira Knightley) to work on the puzzle – a job they’d all do for free, just because this work is more a passion than a job. British Command, led by Stewart Menzies (by Mark Strong) are supremely sceptical but hugely hopeful about their likely success. With millions of lives at stake as the war rages across Europe, the clock is ticking … literally … can they break the supposedly unbreakable Enigma?
This is a great movie. The real life story is important and significant and needs to be known. Alan Turing, a “legendary cryptanalyst” was working on very important technology back in the 1940’s and the work, along with the added complexities of the highly top secret nature of the war work and his personal challenges with his homosexuality, make the film fascinating and highly poignant. The movie is presented in three time zones – school days, Bletchley Park days and the early 1950’s – that is done very well. It is easy to follow and quite compelling all the way through. Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding as Alan Turing and he is very well supported by Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke (his close colleague throughout the war). Other performances are also good – particularly Mark Strong’s. The casting is well done – Charles Dance is perfect as Commander Denniston and as the fellow mathematicians, Matthew Goode and Allen Leech make the move from television to cinema very well (they may have been in movies I am unaware of – but my exposure to them has been in television’s “The Good Wife (USA)” and “Downton Abbey (UK)” respectively). The 1940’s era costumes are marvellous. There is huge acclaim for this movie and rightly so – in the 2015 season it has already won over 40 awards including AFI Movie of the Year and has been nominated for nine Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Picture, Actor (Cumberbatch), Actress (Knightley), Directing, Writing, Screenplay, Editing, Production Design and Music Original Score. Other nominations are Golden Globes (Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Screenplay and Original Score), BAFTA (Film; British Film; Actor, Actress, Screenplay, Editing, Costume Design, Production Design and Sound), Screen Actors Guild (Actor, Actress and Cast). Benedict Cumberbatch deserves all the accolades he gets for this. Very well done to everyone.
Made in 2014. Directed by Morten Tyldum.