‘The Imitation Game’: An Outsider in Hollywood Directs the Ultimate Outsider Story

The shockingly obscure and tragic figure at the center of the film is credited with breaking the Nazis' Enigma code and being a forefather of the modern computer.
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Alan Turing is considered one of the forefathers of the modern computer. He’s also credited with being a driving force in breaking the Nazis’ virtually impenetrable Enigma code to help finally bring WWII to a close. Finally, he was a gay man at a time when his lifestyle led to criminal charges and an arrest—which likely contributed to his suicide at the age of 42.

With all of these fascinating aspects of his life, it’s a wonder that his story hasn’t been told before in film and that Turing himself is—in fact—a little-known figure. Norwegian director Morten Tyldum is hoping to change that with his new film, The Imitation Game. “I was just shocked. I felt I knew a lot about history, but this man I knew so little about,” Tyldum tells Film Journal International. “He should be on the front cover of the history books. I became obsessed about him, and felt this was a story I needed to tell. I was an outsider in Hollywood, and this is a movie about outsiders, people who think different and don’t fit in and are outside the norm.”

To tell Turing’s story, Tyldum was determined to approach the film in a very particular way. “I wanted to tell the story as this mystery you unravel throughout the movie,” he explains. “We wanted this to an epic movie that is also entertaining. We didn’t want to make an obscure little biopic. I didn’t want it to be without humor, because he’s an awkward man and there are funny moments. We wanted people to laugh and then be very emotional. This is actually also a thriller—it’s not a historical biopic. This is a man with an awkward reputation who ended up a top spy.”

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