The Imitation Game (2014)

114 mins | Drama | 28 November 2014

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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HISTORY

End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The producers wish to thank”: “Simon Beresford; Bicester Heritage; Bletchley Park Trust; Josh Bosin; British Film Commission; British Film Institute; Ben Browning; Graham Campbell and the staff of Joyce Grove, Nettlebed; Reverend Simon Cansdale; Iain Canning; Neil Calder;Chanel; Daniela Derbyshire; Anna Dudley; Michael Duff; Laura Engel; Ben Epstein; Alice Gill-Carey and the girls of Channing School; Kat Gosling; Micah Green; Kelsey Griffin; Ronald Halpern; Sophie Harris; Jon Ingold; Alex Irwin; Adam Isaacs; Lindy King; Kattie Kotok; Niija Kuykendall; David Kwong; Jessica Lacy; The Law Society; Jeanne Leitenberg; London Underground Film Office; Joel Lubin; Katherine Lynch; Johnathan McClain; Graeme McCormack; Robert Messinger; Pearl Naicker; National Computer System; Guri Neby; Network Rail; Danny Perkins; Red Cross; Residents of Church Street Chesham; Elan Ruspoli; Lara Sackett; Stephen Saltzman; Peter Sample; Michael Schenkman; Sarah Shepherd; Mick Sullivan; Iain Standen; Roeg Sutherland; Staff and students of Sherborne School; Turing Archive; Nicola Van Gelder; West Coast Railway Company; Jack Whigham; Mark Woollen & Associates; Stephen Zager. The filmmakers also credit “Special thanks” to, “J. Blakeson; Bard Dorros; Tom Drumm; Jerome Duboz; JP Evans; John Grant; The Grossman Family; Shuna Hunt; Elia Infascelli; Billy Lazarus; Laura Lewis; Clint Mansell; The Ostrowsky Family; Inagh Payne; Keith Redman; Cliff Roberts; Janet Ferrier Robinson; The Schwarzman Family; Daniel Steinman; Sir John Dermot Turing; Janne Tyldum; Alan Wertheimer.”
       End credits also note the film was, “Supported by TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, a year round program of the Tribeca Film Institute.”
       The film begins with the written statement, “Based on a true story; 1951 Manchester, England” and the following voice-over narration by the character “Alan Turing” as he speaks to his interrogator, “Detective Robert ...

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End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The producers wish to thank”: “Simon Beresford; Bicester Heritage; Bletchley Park Trust; Josh Bosin; British Film Commission; British Film Institute; Ben Browning; Graham Campbell and the staff of Joyce Grove, Nettlebed; Reverend Simon Cansdale; Iain Canning; Neil Calder;Chanel; Daniela Derbyshire; Anna Dudley; Michael Duff; Laura Engel; Ben Epstein; Alice Gill-Carey and the girls of Channing School; Kat Gosling; Micah Green; Kelsey Griffin; Ronald Halpern; Sophie Harris; Jon Ingold; Alex Irwin; Adam Isaacs; Lindy King; Kattie Kotok; Niija Kuykendall; David Kwong; Jessica Lacy; The Law Society; Jeanne Leitenberg; London Underground Film Office; Joel Lubin; Katherine Lynch; Johnathan McClain; Graeme McCormack; Robert Messinger; Pearl Naicker; National Computer System; Guri Neby; Network Rail; Danny Perkins; Red Cross; Residents of Church Street Chesham; Elan Ruspoli; Lara Sackett; Stephen Saltzman; Peter Sample; Michael Schenkman; Sarah Shepherd; Mick Sullivan; Iain Standen; Roeg Sutherland; Staff and students of Sherborne School; Turing Archive; Nicola Van Gelder; West Coast Railway Company; Jack Whigham; Mark Woollen & Associates; Stephen Zager. The filmmakers also credit “Special thanks” to, “J. Blakeson; Bard Dorros; Tom Drumm; Jerome Duboz; JP Evans; John Grant; The Grossman Family; Shuna Hunt; Elia Infascelli; Billy Lazarus; Laura Lewis; Clint Mansell; The Ostrowsky Family; Inagh Payne; Keith Redman; Cliff Roberts; Janet Ferrier Robinson; The Schwarzman Family; Daniel Steinman; Sir John Dermot Turing; Janne Tyldum; Alan Wertheimer.”
       End credits also note the film was, “Supported by TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, a year round program of the Tribeca Film Institute.”
       The film begins with the written statement, “Based on a true story; 1951 Manchester, England” and the following voice-over narration by the character “Alan Turing” as he speaks to his interrogator, “Detective Robert Nock”: “Are you paying attention? Good. If you’re not listening carefully, you will miss things, important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself and you will not interrupt me. You think that because you are sitting where you are and I am sitting where I am that you are in control of what is about to happen. You’re mistaken. I am in control, because I know things you do not know. What I need from you now is a commitment. You will listen closely and you will not judge me until I am finished. If you cannot commit to this then please leave the room. But if you choose to stay remember you chose to be here. What happens from this moment forward is not my responsibility. It’s yours. Pay attention.” Turing’s narration continues intermittently throughout the film. The movie does not have a linear narrative, but switches back and forth between Turing’s childhood at boarding school, his work on the Enigma Project, and his arrest for “indecency,” which is used as the film’s framing device. The picture also includes newsreel footage from World War II.
       The film concludes with the written epilogue: “After a year of government-mandated hormonal therapy, Alan Turing committed suicide on June 7th, 1954; He was 41 years old; Between 1885 and 1967, approximately 49,000 homosexual men were convicted of gross indecency under British law; In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous Royal Pardon, honoring his unprecedented achievements; Historians estimate that breaking Enigma shortened the war by more than two years, saving over 14 million lives; It remained a government-held secret for more than 50 years; Turing’s work inspired generations of research into what scientists called “Turing Machines”; Today, we call them computers.”
       According to a 26 Nov 2014 Var article, first-time screenwriter Graham Moore had nearly given up on being a film or television writer after working six months on the television series 10 Things I Hate About You (ABC Family, 7 Jul 2009—24 May 2010). He found greater success at writing novels, and his first publication, The Sherlockian (New York, 2010), was a NYT bestseller. In summer 2010, Moore attended a party hosted by producer Nora Grossman and learned she optioned Andrew Hodges’s biography Alan Turing: The Enigma (New York, 1983). As noted in a 30 Oct 2014 NYT article, Moore was a life-long computer enthusiast with an ongoing obsession with Turing’s story. Although Moore did not know Grossman personally, he pleaded with her to give him a chance at writing the screen adaptation.
       The NYT article stated that Moore began writing the first scene of The Imitation Game in an airplane while in transit on a book tour for The Sherlockian. Various adaptations of Andrew Hodges’s biography had already been produced theatrically, in Hugh Whitemore’s 1986 London and 1987 Broadway play, Breaking the Code, and a 1996 BBC television adaptation of the same name, all starring Derek Jacobi. Despite their titles, neither focused on the actual breaking of the Enigma code. Moore’s screenplay turned the narrative into an “espionage thriller.” According to the NYT, Moore’s account was not entirely accurate, as there was no single “breakthrough” moment for the Bletchley Park, England, cryptographers. Instead, the Germans continued to refine the code, and it had to be cracked on more than one occasion.
       By 2011, thirty-three-year-old Graham Moore’s script topped Hollywood’s “Black List,” a catalog of esteemed but unproduced screenplays. According to Var and a 20 Aug 2012 HR news item, the project was acquired by Warner Bros. on speculation for “seven figures” in fall 2011, hoping that Leonardo DiCaprio would agree to play the starring role. In Mar 2011, J. Blakeson was hired to direct, as announced in a 19 Mar 2012 DV brief. At that time, Nora Grossman and Ido Ostrowsky were listed as producers, and Niija Kuykendall was elected to be Warner Bros.’ representative. By late-Aug 2012, however, DiCaprio was out of the project to which he was never formally attached, and Warner’s “progress-to-production clause” prompted the studio to let their option lapse. DV speculated that DiCaprio declined the role due to his commitment to Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, see entry).
       Released from their contract with Warner Bros., Grossman and Ostrowsky joined forces with producer Teddy Schwartzman, who independently financed the picture for $15 million through his company, Black Bear Pictures. As stated in the NYT article, Schwartzman contacted director Morten Tyldum after watching his 2011 Norwegian film, Headhunters, noting that “high-profile” British directors under consideration lacked passion and emotional range in their work. The Imitation Game was Tyldum’s first English-language theatrically released feature film.
       At that time, Benedict Cumberbatch was best known for his title role in Sherlock, the BBC/PBS television series, for which he won a 2014 Emmy Award. While researching his character with Turing’s relatives and colleagues, Cumberbatch came to question the man’s diagnosis by several historians as “somewhere on the Asperger���s spectrum” of autism. Noting that Turing was “just a very brilliant, very sensitive human being,” Cumberbatch reflected that Turing’s detachment from his parents, who lived in India, provoked feelings of being a consummate “outsider.” However, Turing was also “physically and emotionally rugged” as an internationally known marathoner and an unapologetic homosexual.
       According to a 2 Nov 2014 LAT article, principal photography occurred over eight weeks. Locations including Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, England, and Sherborne School in Dorset, England, were authentic to Turing’s life.
       On 7 Feb 2014, Var announced that the Weinstein Company purchased the film’s domestic distribution rights for $7 million after viewing a promo reel at the European Film Market in Berlin, Germany. Nearly three months later, a 14 May 2014 Var brief stated that Squareone Entertainment had partnered with Telepol to purchase distribution rights in Germany for an undisclosed fee, and FilmNation would negotiate the sale of international rights at the Cannes Film Festival. At that time, the picture was still in post-production.
       A 21 Jul 2014 Var news item listed The Imitation Game as the opening film at the 58th BFI London Film Festival on 8 Oct 2014, making its European premiere. The picture screened at festivals in Telluride, CO, and Toronto, Canada, where it won the “Grolsch People’s Choice Award.” The Weinstein Company planned to open the picture in the U.S. on 21 Nov 2014, one week after its U.K. release. However, the U.S. opening was pushed back one week to 28 Nov 2014. As stated in a 30 Nov 2014 Var article, The Imitation Game earned the “second-highest per-screen average” of films released during its opening Thanksgiving holiday weekend, grossing $482,000 in four New York City and Los Angeles theaters, averaging $120,518 per venue. Known for its distribution tactics during the pre-awards season, using word-of-mouth to expand popularity, the Weinstein Company increased exhibition to six “markets” and twenty-five to thirty new theaters on 12 Dec 2014. A nationwide release at 600-800 screens was scheduled for Christmas Day, 25 Dec 2014.
       The Imitation Game was named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year and was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards in the following categories: Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Keira Knightley), Best Screenplay (Graham Moore), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), and Best Motion Picture, Drama. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards: Actor in a Leading Role (Cumberbatch), Actress in a Supporting Role (Knightley), Film Editing (William Goldenberg), Production Design (Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana MacDonald), Music - Original Score (Desplat), Writing - Adapted Screenplay (Moore), Directing (Morten Tyldum), and Best Picture

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Mar 2012
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Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 2012
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Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 2014
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Nov 2014
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 2014
Calendar, p. 1
New York Times
30 Oct 2014
---
New York Times
28 Nov 2014
Section C, p. 4
Variety
7 Feb 2014
---
Variety
14 May 2014
---
Variety
21 Jul 2014
---
Variety
30 Aug 2014
---
Variety
26 Nov 2014
---
Variety
30 Nov 2014
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Weinstein Company Presents
A Black Bear Pictures Production
A Bristol Automotive Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Crowd 2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
'A' cam 1st asst cam
'A' cam 2d asst cam
Cam trainee
'B' cam op
Steadicam op
'B' cam 1st asst cam
'B' cam 2d asst cam
Video playback op
Video asst
Gaffer
Best boy
Generator op
Key grip
Standby rigger
Jack English
Stills photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Standby rigger, 2d unit
Video playback, 2d unit
Matchmover
Matchmover
Cam equip and video equip
Electric equip
Filmed on
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supervising art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Standby art dir
Asst art dir
Graphic des
Graphic des
Graphic des
Art dept asst
Storyboard artist
Art dept visual researcher
Roto/Prep artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Negative cutter
Dailies tech
SET DECORATORS
Prod buyer
Set dec asst
Prop maker
Standby carpenter
Standby painter
Property master
Prop foreman chargehand
Dressing props
Dressing props
Dressing props
Standby props
Standby props
Standby carpenter, 2d unit
Const coord
HOD carpenter
HOD painter
Chargehand carpenter
Chargehand painter
Chargehand painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Set costumer
Costume standby
Costume asst
Costume asst
Costume asst
Costume asst
Costume alterations
Junior costume asst
Junior costume asst
MUSIC
Mus supv
Supervising mus ed
Mus composed and conducted by
Mus performed by
Orchestra leader
Solo piano
Orchestrations
Orchestrations
Orchestrations
Orchestrations
Score coord
Programming
Mus preparation
Mus preparation
Auricle op
Mus recorded and mixed by
Mus rec and mix asst
Mus rec and mix asst
Score recorded and mixed at
SOUND
Sd recordist
Boom op
Sd asst
Dial coach
Sd rec, 2d unit
Supervising sd ed/Sd des
Sd des
Dial and ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Foley rec
Foley rec
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Asst re-rec mixer
Re-rec at
Sd facility mgr
Sd facility support
ADR provided by, ADR in London
ADR rec, ADR in London
ADR rec, ADR in London
ADR provided by, ADR in Los Angeles
ADR mixer, ADR in Los Angeles
ADR rec, ADR in Los Angeles
ADR provided by, ADR in New York
ADR mixer, ADR in New York
ADR rec, ADR in New York
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff tech
Visual eff by
Visual eff supv
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
Visual eff cord
C0 supv
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
CG generalist
CG generalist
CG generalist
CG generalist
Visual eff ed
Visual eff by
Visual eff supv
Main and end titles designed and provided by
DANCE
MAKEUP
Hair and make-up des
Hair & make-up artist
Hair & make-up artist
Hair & make-up artist
Hair & make-up crowd supv
Crowd hair & make-up artist
Crowd hair & make-up artist
Crowd hair & make-up artist
Hair & make-up junior
Crowd hair & make-up trainee
Crowd hair & make-up trainee
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
US post prod supv
UK post prod supv
UK post prod supv
US post prod coord
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Rushes runner/PA
Supervising loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Unit mgr
Loc asst
Prod accountant
Loc accountant
Accounts asst
Floor runner
Stand in runner
Stand in runner
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Child background casting
Asst to Mr. Tyldum
Post prod asst to Mr. Tyldum
Asst to Mr. Cumberbatch
Secy to Ms. Knightley
Asst to the producers
Asst to the producers
Clearances
Steve Clarke
Chef
Asst chef
Unit nurse
Floor runner, 2d unit
Scr supv, 2d unit
Transportation capt/Driver to Mr. Cumberbatch
Driver to Ms. Knighley
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Minibus driver
Minibus driver
HOD facilitators
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Facilities driver
Security lead man
Security lead man
Mathematical consultant
Police advisor
Achieve footage researcher
Electronic press kits
Vice President, Black Bear Pictures
Creative Executive, Black Bear Pictures
Coord, Black Bear Pictures
Data wrangler
Digital film bureau
Digital film bureau
Digital film bureau
Head of prod
Head of operations
Environments supv
ADR voice casting, ADR in New York
ADR voice casting, ADR in New York
Post prod accountant
Post prod asst accountant
Prod counsel
Legal counsel
Payroll services
Insurance
Stock footage
Stock footage
Stock footage
Accommodations provided by
Accommodations provided by
Flights provided by, The Appointment Group
Car services provided by
Visa services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt double (young Alan Turing)
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt prod
COLOR PERSONNEL
Roto/Prep artist
Digital Intermediate provided by
C03 exec prod/Colorist
Addl colorist
Addl colorist
Digital conform
DI technologist
Color asst
Color asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma, by Andrew Hodges (New York, 1983).
SONGS
“Opportunity,” written by Alexander Norris, Stuart A. Hart, Scott Lean, performed by Tony Liberto, courtesy of Selectracks, Inc/BMG Chrysalis; “Eddie’s Boogie,” written and performed by Eddie Palermo, courtesy of Warner Chappell Production Music; “Time To Go,” written and performed by Andrew Snitzer/Tom Gloia, courtesy of Warner Chappell Production Music; “Coffee Meditation,” written and performed by Milan Svoboda (BMI) 100%, courtesy of Warner/Chappell Production Music; “Jive Time,” written by Cathy Bielawski, performed by The Peter Blair Big Band.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 November 2014
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 28 Nov 2014
Production Date:
15 Sep--mid Nov 2013
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby® Digital in selected theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
114
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
49157
SYNOPSIS

In 1951 Manchester, England, police are called to the home of eccentric mathematics professor Alan Turing, who denies a reported break-in. Turing’s odd machines and disinterest in filing a claim intrigues Detective Robert Nock, who forges a letter of authorization to be able to see the professor’s classified military records. Upon finding Turing’s file empty, Nock suspects Turing might be a Soviet spy. Officers determine the robbery was staged by a homosexual prostitute and arrest Turing for “indecency,” but Nock is permitted his own interrogation session with Turing. There, Nock asks about his well-known publication, “The Imitation Game,” in which he compared human thoughts to mechanical “brains.” In response, Turing invites Nock to play the “game.” The investigator must listen to his story, then distinguish between man-made and computer-generated information. He warns Nock to listen carefully, as his words are coded with messages he cannot declare aloud. Turing then recalls his childhood and his work during World War II, breaking Germany’s undecipherable Enigma code. At grammar school, Alan Turing is bullied by classmates, but is rescued by young Christopher Morcom, his sole intellectual peer in mathematics. One day, Turing is engrossed in a crossword puzzle and Christopher shows him A Guide to Codes and Ciphers. When Turing reflects that cryptographs are much like talking, where people speak with veiled intensions, Christopher gives him the book and encourages his friend to pursue the field, saying: “Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” The boys invent a ...

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In 1951 Manchester, England, police are called to the home of eccentric mathematics professor Alan Turing, who denies a reported break-in. Turing’s odd machines and disinterest in filing a claim intrigues Detective Robert Nock, who forges a letter of authorization to be able to see the professor’s classified military records. Upon finding Turing’s file empty, Nock suspects Turing might be a Soviet spy. Officers determine the robbery was staged by a homosexual prostitute and arrest Turing for “indecency,” but Nock is permitted his own interrogation session with Turing. There, Nock asks about his well-known publication, “The Imitation Game,” in which he compared human thoughts to mechanical “brains.” In response, Turing invites Nock to play the “game.” The investigator must listen to his story, then distinguish between man-made and computer-generated information. He warns Nock to listen carefully, as his words are coded with messages he cannot declare aloud. Turing then recalls his childhood and his work during World War II, breaking Germany’s undecipherable Enigma code. At grammar school, Alan Turing is bullied by classmates, but is rescued by young Christopher Morcom, his sole intellectual peer in mathematics. One day, Turing is engrossed in a crossword puzzle and Christopher shows him A Guide to Codes and Ciphers. When Turing reflects that cryptographs are much like talking, where people speak with veiled intensions, Christopher gives him the book and encourages his friend to pursue the field, saying: “Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” The boys invent a coded language to pass notes, and Turing is seduced by their intimacy. On the day students return to school, young Turing prepares a coded declaration of his love for Christopher, but the boy never arrives. When he learns his first love died of tuberculosis, Turing’s foolproof logic fails and he repeats, “I don’t understand.” Years later, in 1939 London, England, war is declared against Germany. Twenty-seven-year-old Alan Turing travels to the heavily guarded Bletchley Park Radio Manufacturing compound, offering his mathematical genius to crack the Enigma code. Although Commander Denniston is put off by Turing’s arrogance, he grudgingly gives him the job, but hopes to eventually fire the young man. At the code-breakers’ first meeting, team leader and chess champion Hugh Alexander, John Cairncross, Peter Hilton, and Alan Turing are presented with an Enigma machine, recently smuggled out of Germany. The Germans change settings every day at midnight, giving decoders only eighteen hours each day to decrypt messages. Hugh Alexander determines there are “159 million million million” possible settings for Enigma each day, and Chief of Secret Service, Stewart Menzies, points out that men are dying every minute. Approaching code breaking as a “game,” the Bletchley decipherers work with encryptions, intercepted every day by women who record German radio signals. Alan Turing soon realizes the men must check twenty million years worth of Enigma settings in twenty minutes to break the code and insists on building a £100,000 machine for the job. He nicknames his machine “Christopher.” Despite Turing’s genius, he is pompous, anti-social, and universally despised. When Commander Denniston threatens to close down the project, however, Turing secures authorization from Winston Churchill and fires two colleagues. Predicting that word game prodigies are the best code-breakers, Turing publishes a newspaper crossword puzzle, announcing that any person who finishes it in under ten minutes will be considered “for an exciting career opportunity.” Sometime later, a group of men convene for the next step in the process. When a young woman named Joan Clarke arrives late, she is directed to the secretarial office, but Turing gives her a chance and instructs the candidates to complete another puzzle in less than six minutes. As Turing quietly tells Secret Service Agent Menzies that the task is impossible to finish in less than eight minutes, Joan raises her hand, finishing the task in just over five minutes. Joan is hired, but fails to report for duty because her parents want her to become a housewife. Turing rushes to assure them that Joan will be living with a group of “decorous” young ladies. When Joan asks why he helps her, he remembers Christopher and replies, “the very people who no one imagines anything of… do the things no one can imagine.” Keeping her employment a secret, Turing smuggles classified paperwork to Joan’s boarding house. One day, Denniston declares there is a Russian spy in their midst and accuses Turing, but he is unable to find proof. To cheer her friend, Joan explains her latest findings: certain parts of German messages can be automatically rejected if they are repeated each day, therefore giving “Christopher” less content to decipher. By 1941, Joan has convinced Turing to befriend his co-workers, and chess champion Hugh Alexander discovers a quicker way to wire “Christopher.” The machine finally runs, but fails to yield results and Denniston attempts to fire Turing yet again. However, Hugh and his team threaten to quit if Turing goes, and Denniston permits them one last month. As they scramble to make “Christopher” work, Joan announces she must return home, and Turing proposes marriage to remedy the situation. At the engagement party, he admits to his colleague, John, that he is attracted to men, and John reminds Turing that homosexuality is a crime. “Christopher” remains unworkable as the month comes to a close, but Turing has a breakthrough when he overhears Joan’s friend flirting with Hugh. The young woman, who records German radio signals, says she feels intimacy with an unknown German, because he always begins messages with a woman’s five-letter name. Realizing the codes contain predictable patterns—the first five letters and the last phrase, “Heil Hitler”— Turing rushes back to “Christopher” and sends a message through the machine, removing anticipated letters. Using “Christopher’s” translation, Turing and his colleagues feed a recent intercept through Enigma and finally break the code. In time, they determine locations of every Nazi warship and predict attack coordinates, but Turing insists they keep their findings secret. Even though thousands of lives are at stake, preemptive strikes will only alert Germany to the fact that Enigma is cracked. Turing and Joan convince Secret Service Agent Menzies to statistically designate how many attacks Britain can intercept without raising Germany’s suspicion, and the agent creates a system called “Ultra” to mask Enigma codes. The conspiracy remains secret, even to Winston Churchill. One day, Turing discovers that his Enigma partner, John Cairncross, is the Russian spy, but John threatens to reveal Turing’s homosexuality if he takes action. Turing later finds Menzies at Joan’s house, going through the unauthorized paperwork in her possession. When the secret agent declares the paperwork is evidence that Joan is the team’s Russian operative, and she is in prison, Turing confesses that John is the spy. However, Menzies admits he planted John in the group so he could leak information to Russia without Churchill’s knowledge. Turing agrees to participate in the Russian leak to save Joan, only to learn that she had never been arrested—Menzies used the story to manipulate him into collusion. Concerned for Joan’s safety, Turing calls off their engagement, orders her to leave Bletchley, and admits he is gay, but she accepts his sexual orientation and refuses to quit. When the war ends in 1945, Menzies orders the unit to burn their work so the world will continue to believe Enigma is unbreakable. Six years later, in 1951, Turing finishes his interrogation and asks Detective Robert Nock to test “The Imitation Game.” However, the officer is stumped by what he learned and is unable to prove there is a significant difference between the mind of a man and the “brain” of a machine. Turing is later sentenced for “indecency,” but opts to take hormonal drugs to “cure” his homosexuality, in lieu of prison. Joan visits her old friend, but he refuses help, petrified the law will separate him from his ever-evolving and beloved machine, “Christopher.” Befuddled and depressed, Turing is unable to complete ordinary tasks, such as his favorite pastime, crossword puzzles. As he mourns the castration of his intelligence and his outcast existence, Joan reminds him that it is those “who no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.”

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.