I’ve seen many versions of Alan Turing’s story, including the very fine play, Breaking the Code with Derek Jacobi, (poptechjam.com) later made into a BBC movie, and a more recent excellent documentary, Codebreaker. Most of them focused on how the establishment treated his homosexuality with chemical castration, leading to his tragic suicide. None of them really cracked the code for me of exactly how this genius, with a team of other codebreakers at Bletchley Park, worked out the solution to the Enigma machine although this version came closer with a possibly oversimplified eureka moment.
(pbs.org) This cerebral film appears to propose that Turing suffered from Asperger’s and OCD, literary license that works artistically although making retroactive medical diagnoses of great men and women is a tricky business.
Whether you accept this or not, the movie is a fascinating depiction of the beginning of the computer age, led by one of its greatest pioneers and heroes–a hero in the real sense as Turing’s work was judged to have shortened World War II by two years, saving thousands of lives. The film interestingly highlights the difficult war decisions taken by the government to keep Turing’s work secret and uncovers early concerns about the Cold War.
As usual, Benedict Cumberbatch’s towering performance puts everyone else in the shade, although “Downton Abbey” lovers will enjoy Allan Leech’s work and Keira Knightley does a nice turn as Turing’s intellectual almost-equal.
(kavliblog.org) I sometimes wonder what Mozart would have written in later years or what he would have made of Verdi’s Otello. This film has me wondering what Turing would have thought of our Ipads and smart phones–they would probably have amused him but maybe he could have fixed all the annoying things they do.