This summer marked a century since the start of World War One, which might be why this Oscar season is so full of movies based around the two major wars of the 20th century. Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner tells the story of a man searching for the three sons he lost during the Battle of Gallipoli; David Ayer’s Fury is a World War Two drama about a tank crew trying to survive through the last days of the war; and the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game moves away from the front lines to Bletchley Park in the UK, where Turing and his colleagues worked as codebreakers for British Intelligence.
Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing in this retelling of his life story, which was directed by Mortel Tyldum (Headhunters) and based on Andrew Hodges’ biography. The supporting cast includes Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and James Northcote as Turing’s fellow codebreakers Joan Clarke, Hugh Alexander and Jack Good, and Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies, the Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service during the Second World War.
The Imitation Game is currently touring film festivals in the lead-up to its general release and so far has garnered a handful of generally positive reviews, describing it as a solid biopic that’s anchored by a powerful central performance from Cumberbatch. The new UK trailer features a number of accolades from The Imitation Game‘s early reviews, and while it shares a lot of similar footage with the first trailer there’s enough new content to make it easily worth a watch.
As with upcoming Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game faces the challenge of trying to present a historical figure whose work is largely too difficult or complex to be explained in anything other than simplistic terms. Both films will also have an edge of tragedy to them, since Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, and Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952.
The release of The Imitation Game is timely, since it follows a lengthy campaign to having Turing formally pardoned by the British parliament and crown. Queen Elizabeth II officially pronounced Turing to be pardoned in August of this year, and questions have recently been raised about the nature of his death.
World War Two codebreaking is a fascinating subject for a period drama and The Imitatation Game looks like a must-see biopic for those interested in the time period and in Turing’s work.
The Imitation Game releases in US theaters on November 21st, 2014.