(We have not discussed this in the group but it was a ‘spin off’ from one of our meetings and this review is in a personal capacity.)
Director Morten Tyldum takes on the story of Alan Turing, the genius cryptographer who cracked the infamous Enigma code during the Second World War. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a career-best performance in the lead, betraying his character’s innermost feelings through delicate inflections. He also has fine sparring partners in Charles Dance (as Turing’s superior) and Keira Knightley (as his confidante and fiancée). Fascinating and thrilling, The Imitation Game keeps you gripped by always offering a reminder of what’s at stake, as well as exploring the mind of a brilliant but unfairly treated war hero who should never be forgotten.
In 1951, two policemen, Nock and Staehl, investigate the mathematician Alan Turing after an apparent break-in at his home. During his interrogation by Nock, Turing tells of his time working at Bletchley Park.
In 1927 the young Turing is unhappy and bullied at boarding school. He develops a friendship with Christopher Morcom, who sparks his interest in cryptography, and Turing develops romantic feelings for him. Before Turing can confess his love, Christopher dies unexpectedly from tuberculosis.
When Britain declares war on Germany in 1939, Turing travels to Bletchley Park, where, under the direction of Commander Alastair Denniston, he joins the cryptography team of Hugh Alexander, John Cairncross, Peter Hilton, Keith Furman and Charles Richards. The team are trying to decrypt the Enigma machine, which the Nazis use to send coded messages.
Turing is difficult to work with, and considers his colleagues inferior; he works alone to design a machine to decipher Enigma. After Denniston refuses to fund construction of the machine, Turing writes to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who puts Turing in charge of the team and funds the machine. Turing fires Furman and Richards and places a difficult crossword in newspapers to find replacements. Joan Clarke, a Cambridge graduate, surpasses Turing’s test but her parents will not allow her to work with the male cryptographers. Turing arranges for her to live and work with the female clerks who intercept the messages, and shares his plans with her.
Turing’s machine, which he names Christopher, is constructed, but cannot determine the Enigma settings before the Germans reset the Enigma encryption each day. Denniston orders it destroyed and Turing fired, but the other cryptographers threaten to leave if Turing goes. After Clarke plans to leave on the wishes of her parents, Turing proposes marriage, which she accepts. During their reception, Turing confirms his homosexuality to Cairncross, who warns him to keep it secret. After overhearing a conversation with a female clerk about messages she receives, Turing has an epiphany, realising he can program the machine to decode words he already knows exist in certain messages. After he recalibrates the machine, it quickly decodes a message and the cryptographers celebrate; however, Turing realises they cannot act on every decoded message or the Germans will realise Enigma has been broken.
Turing discovers that Cairncross is a Soviet spy. When Turing confronts him, Cairncross argues that the Soviets are allies working for the same goals, and threatens to retaliate by disclosing Turing’s homosexuality if his role as an agent is revealed. When the MI6 agent Stewart Menzies appears to threaten Clarke, Turing reveals that Cairncross is a spy. Menzies reveals he knew this already, and planted Cairncross among them in order to leak messages to the Soviets for British benefit. Fearing for her safety, Turing tells Clarke to leave Bletchley Park, revealing that he is gay and lying about never having cared for her. After the war, Menzies tells the cryptographers to destroy their work and that they can never see one another again or share what they have done.
In the 1950s Turing is convicted of indecency and, in lieu of a jail sentence, undergoes chemical castration so he can continue his work. Clarke visits him in his home and witnesses his physical and mental deterioration. She comforts him by saying that his work saved millions of lives.
During a flashback to Turing’s former school, Sherborne, we see him separating the carrots from other satuff on hi plate. Then some bullies pile a whole tray of food over him.
The film was criticised by some for its inaccurate portrayal of historical events and Turing’s character and relationships. However, the LGBT civil rights advocacy and political lobbying organisation the Human Rights Campaign honoured The Imitation Game for bringing Turing’s legacy to a wider audience.
Despite earlier reservations, Turing’s niece Inagh Payne told Allan Beswick of BBC Radio Manchester that the film “really did honour my uncle” after she watched the film at the London Film Festival in October 2014. In the same interview, Turing’s nephew Dermont Turing stated that Cumberbatch is “perfect casting. I couldn’t think of anyone better”. James Turing, a great-nephew of the code-breaker, said Cumberbatch “knows things that I never knew before. The amount of knowledge he has about Alan is amazing”.
In January 2015, Cumberbatch, comedian-actor Stephen Fry, producer Harvey Weinstein, and Turing’s great niece Rachel Barnes launched a campaign to pardon the 49,000 gay men convicted under the same law that led to Turing’s chemical castration. An open letter published in The Guardian urged the British government and the Royal family, particularly Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to aid the campaign.
The Human Rights Campaign’s Chad Griffin also offered his endorsement, saying: “Over 49,000 other gay men and women were persecuted in England under the same law. Turing was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013. The others were not. Honor this movie. Honor this man. And honor the movement to bring justice to the other 49,000.” Aiding the cause are campaigner Peter Tatchell, Attitude magazine, and other high-profile figures in the gay community.
In February 2015, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Jessica Alba, Bryan Cranston, and Anna Wintour among others joined the petition at Pardon49k.org demanding pardons for victims of anti-gay laws. Other historians, including Justin Bengry of Birkbeck University of London and Matt Houlbrook of the University of Birmingham, argued that such a pardon would be “bad history” despite its political appeal, because of the broad variety of cases in which the historical laws were applied (including cases of rape) and the distortion of history resulting from an attempt to clean up the wrongdoings of the past post facto. Bengry also cites the existing ability of those convicted under repealed anti-homosexuality laws to have their convictions declared spent.
The film has received criticism from historians and academics regarding inaccuracies in the events and people it portrays.
- Naming the Enigma-breaking machine “Christopher” after Turing’s childhood friend and suggesting that Turing was the only cryptographer working on it, with others either not helping or outright opposed.
In actuality, this electromechanical machine was called “Victory” and it was a collaborative, not individual, effort. It was a British Bombe machine, which was partly inspired by a design by the Polish cryptanalyst Marian Rejewski. Rejewski designed a machine in 1938 called bomba kryptologiczna which exploited a weakness in German operating procedures that was corrected in 1940. A new machine with a different strategy was designed by Turing (with a major contribution from mathematician Gordon Welchman, who goes unmentioned in the film, with the contribution attributed to Hugh Alexander instead) in 1940.
- Suggesting that only this one machine was built, with Turing playing a large role in its construction.
More than 200 British Bombes were built under the supervision of chief engineer Harold Keen of the British Tabulating Machine Company. None of them were built at Bletchley Park.
- Suggesting that the work at Bletchley Park was the effort of a small group of cryptographers who were stymied for the first few years of the war until a sudden breakthrough that allowed them to break Enigma.
Progress was actually made before the beginning of the war in 1939 and thousands of men and women were working on the project by the time the war ended in 1945. The computing advances did not obviate the need for human labour, as the many teams of largely female operators certainly knew. Throughout the war, there were breakthroughs and setbacks when the design or use of the German Enigma machines was changed and the Bletchley Park code breakers had to adapt.
Moreover, the breakthrough depicted in the film provides the impression that first the Bombe was developed, then only became effective after it was later realised that deciphering could be made easier by looking for known or speculated items contained in an intercepted message, a practice known in cryptanalysis as employing a crib. However, in reality, the opposite is true; the use of cribs was the central attack model upon which the Bombe’s principal design was based, rather than being an afterthought to the design.
- Suggesting that Enigma was the only German cipher broken at Bletchley Park.
The breaking of the Lorenz cipher, codenamed “Tunny”, was arguably just as important as the breaking of Enigma in terms of contributing to the value of Ultra intelligence, and the code-breaking effort was in many ways more difficult. Neither the Tunny effort nor its main contributors, mathematician W. T. “Bill” Tutte and electrical engineer Tommy Flowers, are mentioned in the film. The Colossus computer they built goes unmentioned by name in the film, although there is an implicit suggestion that Turing was responsible for it, which he was not.
- Showing a scene where the Hut 8 team decides not to use broken codes to stop a German raid on a convoy that the brother of one of the code breakers (Peter Hilton) is serving on, to hide the fact they have broken the code.
In reality, Hilton had no such brother, and decisions about when and whether to use data from Ultra intelligence were made at much higher administrative levels.
- Showing Turing writing a letter to Churchill to gain control over Enigma breaking and obtain funding for the decryption machine.
Turing was actually not alone in making a different request with a number of colleagues, including Hugh Alexander, writing a letter to Churchill (who had earlier visited there) in an effort to get more administrative resources sent to Bletchley Park, which Churchill immediately did.
- The depiction of the recruitment of Joan Clarke as a result of an examination after solving a crossword puzzle in a newspaper.
In reality, Joan Clarke was recruited by her former academic supervisor, Gordon Welchman, to the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS).
While a few writers and researchers have tried to assign such a retrospective diagnosis to Turing, and it is true that he had his share of eccentricities, the Asperger’s-like traits portrayed in the film – social awkwardness, difficulty working cooperatively with others, and tendency to take things too literally – bear little relationship to the actual adult Turing, who, despite enjoying working alone, was sociable and had friends, was also viewed as having a sense of humour, and had good working relationships with colleagues.
- Scenes about Turing’s childhood friend, including the manner in which Turing learned of Morcom’s illness and death.
- Portraying Turing’s arrest as happening in 1951 and having a detective suspect him of being a Soviet spy until Turing tells his code-breaking story in an interview with the detective, who then discovers Turing is gay.
Turing’s arrest was in 1952. The detective in the film and the interview as portrayed are fictional. Turing was investigated for his homosexuality after a robbery at his house and was never investigated for espionage.
- Suggesting that the chemical castration that Turing was forced to undergo made him unable to think clearly or do any work.
Despite physical weakness and changes in Turing’s body including gynaecomastia, at that time he was doing innovative work on mathematical biology, inspired by the very changes his body was undergoing due to chemical castration.
- Clarke visiting Turing in his home while he is serving probation.
There is no record of Clarke ever visiting Turing’s residence during his probation, although Turing did stay in touch with her after the war and informed her of his upcoming trial for indecency.
- Stating outright that Turing committed suicide after a year of hormone treatment.
In reality, the nature of Turing’s death is a matter of considerable debate. The chemical castration period ended fourteen months before his death. The official inquest into his death ruled that he had committed suicide by consuming a cyanide-laced apple. Turing biographer Andrew Hodges believes the death was indeed a suicide, re-enacting the poisoned apple from Snow White, Turing’s favourite fairy tale, with some deliberate ambiguity included to permit Turing’s mother to interpret it as an accident. However, Jack Copeland, an editor of volumes of Turing’s work and Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing, has suggested that Turing’s death may have been accidental, caused by the cyanide fumes produced by an experiment in his spare room, and that the investigation was poorly conducted.
Denniston’s grandchildren stated that the film takes an “unwarranted sideswipe” at their grandfather’s memory, showing him to be a “baddy” and a “hectoring character” who hinders the work of Turing. They said their grandfather had a completely different temperament from the one portrayed in the film and was entirely supportive of the work done by cryptographers under his command. There is no record of the film’s depicted interactions between Turing and Denniston. Indeed, before the war, Denniston recruited lecturers at Oxford and Cambridge, and Turing, Welchman, and others began working part-time for him then. Turing was always respected and considered one of the best code-breakers at Bletchley Park and in short order took on the role of a leader there.
Many interviews conducted with many of the people who worked at Bletchley Park have said many times that they had been instructed not to ask about activities in other huts. There’s several scenes where other characters do just that, such as when the code breakers are celebrating in the pub and ask Helen about her work in her hut and also when Joan mentions about how the girls in one hut had been in a row over events in another hut.
Joan was not hired after solving a crossword puzzle in the newspaper. She was at Bletchley Park already when she was promoted to work with Turing’s group. Turing, however, did publish a crossword puzzle in the January 13, 1942 London Daily Telegraph in an effort to recruit more code-breakers.
While the group is trying to decipher the daily Enigma code, the wall clock strikes midnight setting off an alarm. In frustration, Hugh throws all of the days work to the floor because the German military change the Enigma code daily at midnight (German time) rendering the work useless. However, the work done could be completed (as was often done) in the early hours of the morning or at a later date – the information would not be as timely, but the intercepts and any work would be saved, not discarded.
In the opening scene, the police sergeant describes Turing as a ‘professor at King’s’ and he is then addressed as ‘Professor Turing’. At this time Turing had been at Manchester University for several years where he was a Reader, not a Professor. In any case, it is most unlikely that King’s College Cambridge would have been referred to simply as ‘King’s’ outside that town, there being other notable colleges of that name such as King’s College London.
At the end, Turing is portrayed as working on his own computer in Manchester. In reality, while he had such a project called ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory, he abandoned this due to lack of progress. He moved to the University of Manchester after they demonstrated the first stored program computer, as he was primarily interested in programming the machines rather than building them.
The narrative conceit of the film is that Alan Turing explains his curiously empty military record by describing all his wartime codebreaking activities to a police detective in 1951. But there is no evidence that a single one of the workers at Bletchley Park ever breathed a word about what they had done during the War to anybody – even their own families – prior to the late 1970s. It is safe to assume that Alan Turing certainly never did.
“If any young person’s ever felt like they aren’t quite sure who they are, or aren’t allowed to express themselves the way they’d like to express themselves, if they’ve ever felt bullied by what they feel is the normal majority or any kind of thing that makes them feel an outsider, then this is definitely a film for them because it’s about a hero for them,” Cumberbatch stated at the European Premiere of the film at the London Film Festival, October 2014
Christopher Morcom: Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.
Alan Turing: Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying. But remove the satisfaction, and the act becomes… hollow.
Final quotes: His machine was never perfected, though it generated a whole field of research into what became known as “Turing Machines”. Today we call them “computers”.
Joan Clarke: I know it’s not ordinary. But who ever loved ordinary?
Alan Turing: When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean. [pause] They say something else and you’re expected to just know what they mean.
Alan Turing: Are you paying attention? Good. If you are not listening carefully, you will miss things. Important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself, and you will not interrupt me. You think that because you’re sitting where you are, and I am sitting where I am, that you are in control of what is about to happen. You’re mistaken. I am in control, because I know things that you do not know. [pause] hat I will need from you now is a commitment. You will listen closely, and you will not judge me until I am finished. If you cannot commit to this, then please leave the room. But if you choose to stay, remember you chose to be here. What happens from this moment forward is not my responsibility. It’s yours. Pay attention.
John Cairncross: The boys, we’re going to get some lunch. [no response] Alan?
Alan Turing: Yes?
John Cairncross: I said we’re going to get some lunch. [no response] Alan?
Alan Turing: Yes?
John Cairncross: Can you hear me?
Alan Turing: Yes.
John Cairncross: I said we’re off to get some lu-… [disrupts himself]
John Cairncross: This is starting to get a little bit repetitive.
Alan Turing: What is?
John Cairncross: I had asked, if you wanted to come have lunch with us.
Alan Turing: No, you didn’t, you said you were going to get some lunch.
John Cairncross: Have I offended you in some way?
Alan Turing: Why would you think that?
John Cairncross: Would you like to come to lunch with us?
Alan Turing: What time’s lunch time?
Hugh Alexander: [Frustrated] Christ, Alan, it’s a bleeding sandwich.
Alan Turing: What is?
Hugh Alexander: Lunch.
Alan Turing: Oh, I don’t like sandwiches.
John Cairncross: Nevermind.
Alan Turing: I like solving problems, Commander. And Enigma is the most difficult problem in the world.
Commander Denniston: Enigma isn’t difficult, it’s impossible. The Americans, the Russians, the French, the Germans, everyone thinks Enigma is unbreakable.
Alan Turing: Good. Let me try and we’ll know for sure, won’t we?
Alan Turing: Of course machines can’t think as people do. A machine is different from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something, uh… thinks differently from you, does that mean it’s not thinking? Well, we allow for humans to have such divergences from one another. You like strawberries, I hate ice-skating, you cry at sad films, I am allergic to pollen. What is the point of… different tastes, different… preferences, if not, to say that our brains work differently, that we think differently? And if we can say that about one another, then why can’t we say the same thing for brains… built of copper and wire, steel?
Joan Clarke: Alan, what’s happened?
Alan Turing: [pause] We can’t be engaged anymore. Your parents need to take you back. Find you a husband elsewhere.
Joan Clarke: What’s wrong with you?
Alan Turing: I have something to tell you. I’m… I’m a homosexual.
Joan Clarke: Alright.
Alan Turing: No, no, men, Joan. Not women.
Joan Clarke: So what?
Alan Turing: I just told you…
Joan Clarke: So what? I had my suspicions. I always did. But we’re not like other people. We love each other in our own way, and we can have the life together that we want. You won’t be the perfect husband? I can promise you I harboured no intention of being the perfect wife. I’ll not be fixing your lamb all day, while you come home from the office, will I? I’ll work. You’ll work. And we’ll have each other’s company. We’ll have each other’s minds. Sounds like a better marriage than most. Because I care for you. And you care for me. And we understand one another more than anyone else ever has.
Alan Turing: I don’t.
Joan Clarke: What?
Alan Turing: Care for you. I never did. I just needed you to break Enigma. I’ve done that now, so you can go.
Joan Clarke: [slaps him] I am not going anywhere. I have spent entirely too much of my life worried about what you think of me, or what my parents think of me, or what the boys in Hut 8 or the girls in Hut 3 think, and you know I am done. This work is the most important thing I will ever do. And no one will stop me. Least of all you. [pause] You know what? They were right. Peter. Hugh. John. You really are a monster.
[last lines] Alan Turing: You got what you wanted. A husband, a job… a normal life.
Joan Clarke: No one normal could have done that. Do you know, this morning… I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn’t for you. I read up on my work… a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. And while you wish you could have been normal… I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren’t.
Alan Turing: You really think that?
Joan Clarke: I think, that sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one… can imagine.
[first lines] Alan Turing: Are you paying attention? Good. If you’re not listening carefully you will miss things. Important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself, and you will not interrupt me. If you think that because you’re sitting where you are and I am sitting where I am that you are in control of what is about to happen, you ‘re mistaken. I am in control, because I know things that you do not know.
Hugh Alexander: If you run the wires across the plugboard matrix diagonally, you’ll eliminate rotor positions 500 times faster.
Alan Turing: This is actually not an entirely terrible idea.
Joan Clarke: That’s Alan for “thank you.”
Alan Turing: Hardest time to lie to somebody is when they’re expecting to be lied to.
Alan Turing: Was I God? No. Because God didn’t win the war. We did.
Alan Turing: Advice about keeping secrets: it’s a lot easier if you don’t know them in the first place.
Stewart Menzies: [candidates are taking a timed test] Six minutes… is that even possible?
Alan Turing: No, it takes me eight.
Joan Clarke: [raises her hand]
Alan Turing: You’re finished?… Five minutes thirty four seconds.
Joan Clarke: You said to finish under six minutes.
Alan Turing: [after telling the story] Now you decide: Am I a machine? Am I a human? Am I a war hero? Or am I a criminal?
Detective Robert Nock: I can’t judge you.
Alan Turing: Well, then. You were of no help to me at all.
Alan Turing: Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Alan Turing: Uh, that’s my sandwich.
Hugh Alexander: You don’t like sandwiches.
Alan Turing: Think of it. A digital computer. Electrical brain.
Alan Turing: [Explaining the Turing Test] “The Imitation Game.”
Detective Robert Nock: Right, that’s… that’s what it’s about?
Alan Turing: Would you like to play?
Detective Robert Nock: Play?
Alan Turing: It’s a game. A test of sorts. For determining whether something is a… a machine or a human being.
Detective Robert Nock: How do I play?
Alan Turing: Well, there’s a judge and a subject, and… the judge asks questions and, depending on the subject’s answers, determines who he is talking with… what he is talking with, and, um… All you have to do is ask me a question.
Stewart Menzies: Mr Turing, do you know how many people have died because of Enigma?
Alan Turing: No, I don’t.
Stewart Menzies: Three.
Alan Turing: Three?
Stewart Menzies: While we’ve been having this conversation.
Stewart Menzies: [he looks at his watch] Oh look, there’s another. I rather hope he didn’t have a family.
Alan Turing: You will never understand the importance of what I am creating here!
Stewart Menzies: Oh, Alan… we’re gonna have such a wonderful war together.
Commander Denniston: This is Stewart Menzies. MI6.
Charles Richards: There are only five divisions of military intelligence. There is no MI6.
Stewart Menzies: Exactly. That’s the spirit.
Alan Turing: He likes you.
Joan Clarke: Yes.
Alan Turing: You – you got him to like you.
Joan Clarke: Yes.
Alan Turing: Why?
Joan Clarke: Because I’m a woman in a man’s job, and I don’t have the luxury of being an ass.
Alan Turing: It wasn’t just programmable, it was reprogrammable.
Hugh Alexander: Damn you, you and your machine.
John Cairncross: What’s wrong?
Alan Turing: What if… what if I don’t fancy being with Joan in that way?
John Cairncross: Because you’re a homosexual? I suspected.
Alan Turing: Sh- should I tell her that I’ve had affairs with men?
John Cairncross: You know, in my admittedly limited experience, women tend to be a bit touchy about accidentally marrying homosexuals. Perhaps not spreading this information about might be in your best interest.
Alan Turing: I care for her, I truly do, but… I-I just don’t know if I can pretend…
John Cairncross: You can’t tell anyone, Alan. It’s illegal. And Denniston is looking for any excuse he can to put you away.
Alan Turing: I know.
John Cairncross: This has to stay a secret.
Alan Turing: Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game.
Peter Hilton: You’re not God, Alan. You don’t get to decide who lives and who dies.
Alan Turing: Yes, yes we do.
Peter Hilton: Why? Why?
Alan Turing: Because we’re the only ones who can.
Detective Robert Nock: Mr Turing, can I tell you a secret?
Alan Turing: I’m quite good with those.
Detective Robert Nock: I’m here to help you.
Alan Turing: Oh, clearly!
Detective Robert Nock: Can machines think?
Alan Turing: Oh, so you’ve read some of my published works?
Detective Robert Nock: What makes you say that?
Alan Turing: Oh, because I’m sitting in a police station, accused of entreating a young man to touch my penis, and you’ve just asked me if machines can think.
Detective Robert Nock: Well, can they? Could machines ever think as human beings do?
Alan Turing: Most people say not.
Detective Robert Nock: You’re not most people.
Stewart Menzies: Why are you telling me this ?
Alan Turing: We need your help, to keep this a secret from Admiralty, Army, RAF. Ah… as no one can know, that we’ve broken enigma, not even
Alan Turing: Dennison
Stewart Menzies: Who’s in the process of having you fired ?
Joan Clarke: You can take care of that.
Alan Turing: While we develop a system to help you determine how much intelligence to act on. Which ahh attacks to stop, which to let through. Statistical analysis, the minimum number of actions it will take, for us to win the war – but the maximum number we can take, before the Germans get suspicious
Stewart Menzies: And you’re going to trust of this all to statistics ? To maths ?
Alan Turing: Correct.
Joan Clarke: And then MI6 can come up with the lies we will tell everyone else
Alan Turing: You’ll need a believable alternative source for all the pieces of information that you use
Joan Clarke: A false story, so that we can explain how we got our information, that has nothing to do with Enigma, and then you can leak those stories to the Germans
Alan Turing: And then to our own military
Stewart Menzies: Maintain a conspiracy of lies at the very highest levels of govt ?… Sounds right up my alley.
Commander Denniston: Well, you realize that six hundred miles away from London there’s this nasty little chap called Hitler who wants to engulf Europe in tyranny.
Alan Turing: Politics isn’t really my area of expertise.
Hugh Alexander: Love will make a man do strange things, I suppose.
Alan Turing: In this case, love just lost Germany the whole bloody war!
Hugh Alexander: You know to pull off this irascible genius routine, one has to actually be a genius.
Hugh Alexander: Because there’s nothing like a friend’s engagement to make a woman want to do something that she’ll later regret with the fiancé’s better looking chum.
Headmaster: [grilling young Alan about note-passing] You and your friend solve maths problems during maths class because the maths class is too dull?
Title Card: After a year of government-mandated hormonal therapy, Alan Turing committed suicide on June 7th, 1954.He was 41 years old. Between 1995 and 1967, approximately 49,000 homosexual men were convicted of gross indecency under British law. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous royal pardon, honoring his unprecedented achievements.
Title Card: Historians estimate that breaking Enigma shortened the war by more than two years, saving over 14 million lives. It remained a government-held secret for more than 50 years. Turing’s work inspired generations of research into what scientists called “Turing Machines.” Today, we call them computers.
Alan Turing: Some people thought we were at war with the Germans. Incorrect. We were at war with the clock.
Hugh Alexander: [reading a decrypted message] “… is directed to 53 degrees 24 minutes north and aufpunkt one degree west.”
Hugh Alexander: “Heil Hitler.”
Alan Turing: Turns out that’s the only German you need to know to break Enigma.
Stewart Menzies: Burn everything.
Hugh Alexander: Burn? Why?
Stewart Menzies: You were told when you started this was a Top Secret program. Did you think we were joking?
Hugh Alexander: But the war is over.
Stewart Menzies: *This* war is. But there’Il be others.
Alan Turing: And we know how to break a code that everybody else believes is unbreakable.
Stewart Menzies: Precisely. Tear it down, light it up. Sweep away the ashes. None of you have ever met before. None of you have ever even heard the word “Enigma.” Have a safe trip home.
Stewart Menzies: [as they rise to go] Behave. With a bit of luck, you’ll never have to see me or one another again for the rest of your lives…
John Cairncross: If you tell them my secret, I’ll tell them yours.
Young Alan Turing: What’s that you’re reading?
Christopher Morcom: It’s about cryptography.
Young Alan Turing: Like secret messages?
Christopher Morcom: Not secret. That’s the brilliant part. Messages that anyone can see but no one knows what they mean, unless you have the key.
Young Alan Turing: How’s that different from talking?
Christopher Morcom: Talking?
Young Alan Turing: When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean, they say something else. And you’re expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do. So… How’s that different?
Christopher Morcom: Alan, I have a funny feeling you’re going to be very good at this.
Alan Turing: You can’t leave, I won’t let you.
Joan Clarke: I’ll miss you. That’s what a normal person would say in this situation.
Alan Turing: I-I don’t care what is normal!
Joan Clarke: What am I supposed to do, Alan? I will not give up my parents.
Alan Turing: You have an opportunity here to make some actual use of your life!
Joan Clarke: [offended] And end up like you? No thanks. I’m sorry you’re lonely. But Enigma will not save you. Can you decipher that, you fragile narcissist? Or would you like me to fetch your beloved Christopher to help?
Commander Denniston: Have you ever won a war, Turing? I have. You know how it’s done? Discipline, order, chain of command. You’re not at university any more, you’re a very small cog in a very large system. And you will do as your commanding officer instructs.
Alan Turing: Who – who is your commanding officer?
Commander Denniston: Winston Churchill. Number 10 Downing Street, London SWI. You have a problem with my decision, you can take it up with him.
Peter Hilton: All my friends, they’re making a difference while we just wile away our days, producing nothing! Because of you.
Alan Turing: My machine… will work.
Alan Turing: I’m not a spy. I’m… I’m just a mathematician.
Stewart Menzies: I know a lot of spies, Alan. You’ve got more secrets than the best of them.
Joan Clarke: [to a convalescing Alan] Why don’t we do a crossword puzzle? It’ll only take us five minutes. Or in your case, six.
Joan Clarke: Are you trying to build your universal machine? [Alan looks puzzled] I read your paper at university.
Alan Turing: Is it already being taught?
Joan Clarke: Oh no! I was precocious.