After the film was over, as we stood up, I said to my friend Ken, “My mother was one of those young women at Bletchley Park, typing madly away.” And the woman in the row in front leaned over and said, “Really? Your mother was there?”
“She was indeed,” I said, “only she didn’t talk about it for many years.”
“You must be very proud of her,” she said.
And I am. Yes, my mother was one of those young women typing madly away at Bletchley, as shown in the film “The Imitation Game.” She was working there when she met my father the Yank soldier boy, in the fall of 1944. I wonder what she told him she did – because she could not have told him the truth.
The film is flawed, yes, as many commentators have pointed out, in the allowances it takes with the facts. Apparently Polish cryptographers were far more important in breaking the Enigma code than they’re given credit for, for example. But the only thing that truly bothered me, beyond the overwhelming score and a few overdone scenes, was the implication that Alan Turing allowed a Soviet spy to remain on his team for fear of being outed as a homosexual. That implies that he was a coward and indeed, a traitor, and it’s a pure invention. Scandalous.
But apart from that, it is a very good film, highly recommended. The performances are superb, even Kiera Knightley, almost believable as a math prodigy in love with Turing. But Benedict Cumberbatch outdoes himself in making Turing, the enigma, the autistic genius, not just believable but magnificent. Because in the end, the film is telling us this: without this difficult, arrogant, snobbish, impatient, terribly wounded gay man, we might very well have lost the war. Thank God for the strange ones, the different ones, it tells us. And that is a very important message.
Channel 87, the BBC channel on Rogers, is showing back to back episodes of the divine “Sherlock” today, at 6, 8 and 10. Yesterday I finally got to see one I’d missed when they first aired. Cumberbatch is at risk of being typecast as an autistic genius, but my God, he does it well. The series is, once again, TV at its best. If you can help it, don’t miss “Sherlock.”