The Imitation Game, an upcoming film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, explores the story of real-life mathematician Alan Turing, the tragic genius who is credited with helping the Allies to victory through his code-cracking skill set. Turing was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century and was able to lay the foundations for the computer science that has so much impact on our lives today. His Turing Machine was able to prove there was a fundamental equivalence among computing devices. These insights about the nature of computation continue to be taught in computer science departments to this day. Unfortunately, Turing, a gay man, lived during an era of absolute intolerance and he was prosecuted for “gross indecency” for having sexual relations with another man. He lost his security clearance and was forced to take hormone treatments that chemically castrated him. Just two years later, Turing was found dead in his home–of cyanide poisoning. It took until December of 2013 for Turing to finally receive an official pardon for his incorrect prosecution.
The Imitation Game will focus on Turing’s time at Bletchley Park, Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School, and on the team that worked with him there. Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock fame) is perfectly cast to embody Turing’s troubled genius. Other famous actors included in the project are Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones) and Keira Knightley. Knightley plays Turing’s sidekick and constant support in the film, Joan Clarke. Criticism of the film states that Clarke and Turing’s relationship as portrayed in the movie was much more than it actually was in reality, and that filmmakers downplayed Turing’s homosexuality. The film opens on November 21 in the US and there is already Academy Award buzz surrounding Cumberbatch’s performance.