December 30, 2014


If you see one film during the holiday season, Spy Vibe recommends The Imitation Game. The backstory of Alan Turing's time at Bletchley Park during WWII included regular strained meetings with James Bond author Ian Fleming. Fleming's talent was to dream up scenarios, including schemes to steal an Enigma machine and code intelligence during the Dieppe Raid and from a captured naval vessel (Operation Ruthless). Fleming's diary entries referred to Turing's disappointment over these failed missions and new articles in The Guardian and The New Yorker suggest that the two were working under extreme pressure to withhold secrets from their allies (often at heavy expense), and to spread misinformation to outwit their enemies. Turing's vision also played a part in the development of the computer. As interesting as these connections may be to us spy fans, The Imitation Game thankfully does not explore the scope of Turing's history in a broad way. Ian Fleming does not appear. Instead, the heart of this largely intimate film is revealed by the poster tagline- "Behind every code is an enigma"- and that puzzle is Alan Turing's own struggle (outwardly) to crack the Enigma and (inwardly) to reconcile his experience as "other" in society and in social interactions. There are many layers to this, which I don't want to spoil. Although the war provides important context in the movie, the story is ultimately a beautiful character study, masterfully performed by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Alex Lawther, as the young Turing. I went into the film completely unaware of Turing's experiences and accomplishments, and I found it quite moving. Enjoy! Spy Vibe trivia: Benedict Cumberbatch's mom is Wanda Ventham (Virginia Lake in Gerry Anderson's UFO)! Turing Illustration below by Conceptcion Studios. Learn More: Alan Turning: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, Enigma: The Battle For the Code, Alan Turing: Centenary Edition, The Secret Lives of Codebreakers, the film Enigma, and new articles in New Yorker, The Guardian

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