Film Review and Analysis: The Society-Individual Conflict in the Movie The Imitation Game (by Morten Tyldum, 2014)
The Imitation Game (2014) is a historical drama movie directed by Morten Tyldum based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The film is about life of a famous British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who is famous by the deciphering of the German Enigma coding machine during the World War II.
On the one hand, the movie tells a story of a person with brilliant mind who changed the course of the world history, but on the other hand, this film is a personal drama that depicts complicated relationships between Alan and other people. Alan has lack of communication skills and his perception of the reality differs from others’ ones. Being misunderstood and rejected by people because of the peculiarity during his college years, Turing closes himself from the world, except one friend. At the beginning of the World War II he joins the secret cryptographists’ team, creates a computer-prototype machine and solves the Enigma mystery. The film brightly shows main character’s communication difficulties and his inability to collaborate in a team. After years, being caught by a policeman, executed and suffered from the punishment, the only one person who could understand him, Joan Clarke, visits him and witnesses his mental and health problems - the results of the execution.
I found it very interesting to analyze the development of the relationships between Turing and other people in the movie, how he confronts and deals with life and communication difficulties, and also Turing’s personality. The film’s thread of society’s suppressing on Alan and, eventually, death from it, also shows an inability of the society to accept extraordinary individuals. That is why I chose three themes to analyze and provide examples from the film – perception, identity and relationship maintenance. The purpose of my paper is to show that Alan Turing tries to understand the society, but the society does not want to understand and to admit him.
The first concept I would like to explore is the identity concept. According to Leets (2004), peer group rejection in childhood is significant because it affects self-concept and social skills, and also rejected people have fewer opportunities for social growth, increasing the possibility of further rejection as well as antisocial behavior. The movie proves this – being rejected during school and college years, Alan has no desire to interact and socialize anymore with those who treat him violently instead of admitting him as a unique and different person. He is concentrated on studying and his thoughts only, and grows independently, without attempts to fit common standards.
Moreover, Fearon (1999) suggests that “Identity has a double sense. It refers to social categories and to the sources of an individual’s self-respect.” (p. 2). In his article Fearon also equates the terms of self-concept and identity in terms of how individual sees himself. Applying the principle, suggested in the article, we can consider Alan’s identity in two different aspects – as he sees himself and as others see him. From other people’s perspective, he is a “monster” (as Joan and team members said), and a person that cannot feel and “live normal life”. However, other people do not know what Alan feels, what he thinks about, and what made him closed.
In its turn, Alan thinks out of the box and has broader concept of the world and he does not limit himself by social rules, principles and clichés. He says “Just because something … thinks differently from you, does that mean it is not thinking? Well, we allow for humans to have such divergences from one another”, and this allows him to create impossible for that time mechanism.
Turing sees his difference from others, and he knows – he has to pay a high price for the right to be himself. The movie shows that he defines himself (his identity) as an “another” man: “Am I a machine? Am I a human? Am I a war hero? Or am I a criminal?”; “Sometimes it is the people no-one imagines anything of who do the things no-one can imagine”. At the same time, despite all pressures, he is confident in what he does – his ideas and inventions are the most important things for him. Furthermore, even more important than his own life – he suffers physically and mentally from the execution in order to stay at home and continue his work on the Christopher (his machine), and he is ready to protect his work at any price.