Real-life heroes of The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch brings one of Britain’s most understated heroes to international spotlight


Do you know who Alan Turing is?

To be fair, a large population of the world doesn’t. Yet you’re probably using the product of his work right now.

His machine was never perfected – he had committed suicide before then – but he generated future research that produced “Turing Machines”. Today, we call them “computers”.

The Unsung Hero

Turing was an English cryptoanalyist, mathematician, and computer scientist from the early-20th Century. He is widely credited as the founder of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

Starring as Turing in The Imitation Game is Britain’s finest: Benedict Cumberbatch from Star Trek: Into the Darkness and TV’s “Sherlock”. Unlike his famous clean-cut and monotonous mannerisms in “Sherlock”, Cumberbatch now portrays a eccentric and compulsive genius on the brink of political and technological revolution.


Speaking about the visionary Turing, Cumberbatch said: “He was seen as an odd fish, ‘an odd duck’ as his mum called it. He was so capable, so fast-thinking… He was a remarkable human being.”

Turing (Cumberbatch, middle) leads a motley crew of scholars, chess prodigies, intelligence agents and mathematicians (including Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, far left) in a race to decode Germany’s Enigma Machine

Joining Cumberbatch is co-actor Keira Knightley (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean) as the ingenious mathematician Joan Clarke, who defies the odds in an age of gender discrimination.

In The Imitation Game, Turing reluctantly leads a motley crew of scholars, linguists, chess prodigies and intelligence agents in an intense, nail-biting race to decode Germany’s World War II Enigma machine.

But his heroism extends beyond intellectual feats, and this is explored in haunting detail in the movie.

A Persecuted Genius

Before he can further his research into computer science, Turing is arrested for homosexuality

The legacy of Turing’s life and work has reached into our modern world through more than just computers. As The Imitation Game portrays, he was prosecuted for homosexual activity – a crime that was heavily condemned in 20th-Century Britain.

The movie brings this historical figure forward into a modern context, and questions today’s audience: How would you react to such a law enforced upon a person who proved pivotal to technological progress?

Cumberbatch has an answer. He said: “The tragedy of his life is not only that it ended so early, but that he was persecuted in a time of intolerance for his sexuality.”

Still uncertain about the Turing tale? Catch The Imitation Game in cinemas, and let Cumberbatch and crew bring it to life for you.

By Pamela Chow

The Imitation Game [NC16]

Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Run Length: 114 mins
Release: 22 Jan