The Imitation Game is a 2014 American feature film based on the life and times of British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing. Turing is credited with the invention of a computational machine that successfully cracked the German Enigma code, during the Second World War.
Turing’s life, as depicted by The Imitation Game, can be viewed through two of Saint Leo University’s core values of Community and Integrity.
“Community” doesn’t fit high in the life of an introvert, especially one as eccentric and work-absorbed as Turing, who, perhaps like most introverts, lived his life mainly in his head. However, in the microcosm of society that was Hut 8, the value and the necessity of “Community” was effectively highlighted.
Having no social skills, natural empathy, or commonplace niceties, and approaching all things, including human interactions, in a purely analytical and a cold clinical manner, Turing was extremely unpopular and was resented by his colleagues. Things take a turn for the better, however, when Joan Clarke, joins the group of men in Hut 8 on their project, as the only woman cryptanalyst.
She takes a liking for Turing and helps him understand that if he “really wants to solve the puzzle” of Enigma, then he is going to need “all the help he can get” and his colleagues are “not going to help” him if “they do not like” him. It makes an impact on Turing and in a comical scene, we see him trying to offer the olive branch by taking some apples to work for his colleagues and attempting to crack a joke with them.
However unintentionally funny Turing was in that scene, it does serve as a turning point in the story, as from that point on, the team works as a unit, with mutual respect, companionship, and even camaraderie, and focus their energies in unison to breaking the Enigma.
The spirit of Community builds so strongly in them that we see his erstwhile rival Hugh Alexander pitching in to help build the Turning machine, and in a touching scene standing up against authority, along with the rest of the team, when the directors of the project try to tear down Turing’s machine and give him the sack.
Integrity is the virtue of being true. To yourself, to your God (or the Ideal that enables you to constantly grow towards your higher self), and to others. Turing has been depicted, in his early years, to be a lonely boy who loses his only friend and is brutally bullied in his adolescent years. He, however, makes no attempt to change himself to try and fit it in.
He remains true to his strange, and perhaps, queer, individual self, even if it meant being unpopular. Later, when he is working on designing his machine, he lets no one – no peers, no directors, or people in authority convince him that his ideas are useless or a waste of time. In fact, he doesn’t think twice before approaching the Prime Minister personally to gain permission and sanction to continue his work. He remains true to Science, which in all essence may have been his source of the spiritual.
Further, towards the end of the film when he is prosecuted for his homosexuality he is given an excruciating choice of either being true to his sexual identity or to his work. If he refused the chemical castration that was decreed on him, he would have to spend time in prison, away from his labs and scientific work.
In a heartbreaking scene, we see that he chooses to be true to his work, even over his essential identity and accepts the medical “treatment” just to be free and to be allowed to work. This forceful pressure to suppress his true self leads to the tragedy of his suicide.
It could perhaps be said that when people lose their integrity they lose a bit of their soul. In Turning’s case, forcing him to be untrue to his sexuality, cost him his spirit and his life.
The Imitation Game. Dir. Morten Tyldum. 2014. Film.