Tag Archives: Academy Award

The Imitation Game: Oscar Nominee 2015

Synopsis: Mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, is recruited by the English government, to help crack the Nazi code, Enigma, during WWII. Quad_BC_AW_[26237] Imitation Game, The Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode.

I can’t even begin to comprehend the vast abundance of subtext present in this movie. But, we have to begin somewhere…

Having never read the book myself and being aware of the often dramatised events in movies, I was thoroughly amused at the way Alan Turing was portrayed to have solved the Enigma code. There’s fantastic Christopher, the machine to which at first seems is just the most brilliant piece of technology ever built- until it starts taking weeks or months to even crack one code from millions of possibilities. The solution came to Alan in the most strangest way possible: flirting. Let me explain. From a young age, we can see Turing struggling to make friends and was always pointed out as the odd duck. He wonders how people are able to talk so easily to one other when they never say what they mean, yet, the other person understands what is being said. I never really thought about conversations being codes swapped from one another and then our brains deciphering the meanings behind them. It’s so normal and automated- the deciphering, I mean- that most of us probably aren’t aware that we do it on a daily basis. Because Alan Turing had problems with this, he was able to figure out how to solve Enigma, hence the running theme through The Imitation Game, “Sometimes it is the very people no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine”. Alan, obviously not knowing how flirting worked, watched and listened as his friend, Hugh, showed and explained to him how it worked. This is how Alan solved Enigma:

  1. The woman, Helen, smiled at Hugh and didn’t look back in 15 benedict-cumberbatch-imitation-game-3minutes.
  2. Helen sent a coded a message out to Hugh and Hugh read the coded message
  3. He understood it as he knew what the input the message had been in the first place before coding
  4. She wanted him to come over.
  5. Alan watching this exchange was able to figure out this was exactly the case with Enigma.
  6. Enigma had the same whether words (or “cues” in the case of flirting) when the coded message came through.
  7. He knew then, that he just had to watch out for these words rather than the millions of millions of possibilities beforehand (if we are still going with the flirting comparison, he just had to watch out for the flirting cues, rather than aggressive cues or anxiety cues of conversation).
  8. He also knew someone used the same 5 letters when transmitting because they had a girlfriend hence why he later says, “Love may have cost Germany the war!”

That’s pretty impressive. The reason the Germans got caught in the end was simply because, they were so sure it was impossible to crack Enigma, they became complacent with the coding and used the same words over and over again. Imagine if they had used different words other than whether vocabulary and “Heil, Hitler”? That would have been extremely bad luck for the English.

Now, the morality. Based on a true story and adapted from the book, 2014-12_turing_bookAlan Turing: The Enigma” written by Andrew HodgesThe Imitation Game reveals the government’s actions at winning WWII. Initially, we are faced with the question, “What is he on about?”, as Alan asks to “listen closely” and not to judge. After the amazing feat of solving Enigma, however, they were faced with a dilemma. There was no way they could save everyone or the German’s would become suspicious and change the Enigma’s settings. And now it becomes clear why they asked the audience not to judge in the beginning. How could human’s ever decide who gets to live and who doesn’t? What gives us the right to make that judgement? That sinking feeling hung heavily in the air as they let one of their own cryptographer’s brother die. All these self-righteous thoughts began popping in my head, “How could the government let this happen? How?!” After much deliberation, it became apparent to me that they probably had no choice. Statistics really was the only way to go. They could either use the secret they held to save all the people but then the Germans would change their settings, and they would end up back to square one. And then more people would have died as a result. They had to sacrifice the few for the good of the many. I really hate that saying. It shows just how unforgiving the world can be sometimes. Of course, keeping in mind that this movie is probably in favour of the British Government, it begs the question: Have we just been bombarded with propaganda in the form of a movie so the audience wouldn’t be outraged? Let me know what you think in the comments. At this point, I’m just speculating. 🙂

There is one very unsettling factor, apart from being able to sit and watch mass murder knowing you can prevent it, that becomes quite tumblr_n92l5pLgTP1r1eamko2_500apparent through the movie: the extent of homophobia. I mean, I understand back then it would be pretty bad considering there are still countries today where it is still illegal to be homosexual. But it is still absolutely shocking how people were, and can still be, so blinded by their own self-righteousness, that they fail to see the achievements people have done, the amount of lives they have saved and, instead, judge them for who they are and put them on hormonal therapy?! Whether I agree with homosexuality or not is irrelevant but what I do believe is, if they are not harming or doing any injustice to other humans they should be allowed to be who they want to be without having to live in fear of it and not be driven to suicide. I know this wasn’t explicitly stated, but I felt this was what Alan Turing was trying to tell Detective Robert Nock when he was being interrogated. When Turing asked that just because machines cannot think like humans, does this mean they cannot think at all? and asked the detective to judge him whether he is a human or machine, I think Alan was referring to his difference of sexuality, rather than machine and human. Just because he is different to the majority of humans, does that not make human? After hearing the story Alan Turing had to say, the detective could not judge him. And rightly so.

I enjoyed the way the movie swapped between flashbacks and o-the-imitation-game-facebookpresent day rather than a linear timeline. It allows the audience to develop questions and stay compelled, which is definitely what The Imitation Game did. Fantastic performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as always and was delighted to see him be nominated for an Oscar. He was very well practised for the role considering the character of Alan Turing and Sherlock Holmes are both very similar. Keira Knightley was wonderful as well and her talent as an actress truly shone in the film.

The Imitation Game, being the complex film that it is, rightly deserves to be nominated for an Oscar. Whether the movie is propaganda or not we can never really be sure, but one thing is for certain, is that it gives a shout out to those of us in this world who are different to fight to be themselves and that, hopefully, we can reach a time, that they do not have to fight any more.

Verdict: 10 of 10 kicks

Philomena

Synopsis: Exhausted from the politics of the world, a journalist follows a woman on her search for her long-lost son, who was forced to live in a church, only to have her son taken away from her.

judi-dench-philomena

Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford.

Just…wow. I am in awe-struck. The story definitely pulled some heart-strings as I thought of how realistically close the movie must come home to some people.

The most striking message of the film: forgiveness and faith.  After everything the church traumatized Philomena, she still respects them, so much so, as to try to sugar coat the horrendous events that occurred. Even when Martin Sixsmith called the church “evil”, she despised him for it. Her faith in god and the church were extremely passionate- I feel like using “brainwashed” might come off as a bit harsher then I mean it to but it is my opinion. Nothing wrong with god. Or the church, for that matter. In fact, it seems that having some belief does help people to be the best they can (when she forgives Sister Hildgarde for keeping her and her son separate- even when Anthony was on the brink of death).

It doesn’t always have to be in a divine higher power; even the hope that her little boy was out there, being fed and loved and the possibility of him thinking about her, was enough for her to live 50 years without him. What I found devastatingly moving was, when it seemed that Anthony didn’t think about his birth mother, Philomena was ready to accept that. But not him. When the church told Anthony that his mother hadn’t come looking for him, he didn’t take the rejection; he still wanted to be buried there because he trusted his mother, a stranger he never met before but hoped regardless. That is the epitome of belief.

It was heart-warming to see the spiritual journey of Martin Sixsmith; how he went from philomena-image01heartless journalist to tender friend to Philomena. He was so heartless that, in the beginning, he calls human interests section of the paper “weak-minded, for and read by ignorant people”. In the end, he becomes empathic but certainly not any of the adjectives he used to describe such people. He started to genuinely care about Philomena; when his boss at the newspaper told him to keep her there no matter, it broke him to deceive her so he let her make her own decision to stay; when he offered not to publish the story, knowing he was putting his career on the line. This is a prime example of how a person can change; different things will change different people. For Sixsmith, it was observing someone else’s life change, to change himself.

Even if Philomena disliked the anger with which Martin was threatening Sister Hildegarde, you can glimpse the purity of his intent: to bring justice to those who have been wronged. I believe that kind of passion to do what is morally right is appreciated, even if the way he went about to bring it was aggressive. It’s hard- exceptionally difficult– to forgive and forget. Sixsmith was exasperated and it wasn’t even his child that was taken away from him! Again, I’m marvelling at the strength with which Philomena just turned away…an inspiration to all of us to get over the petty little things in life, I’d like to hope.

It nearly killed me to hear that her dad had told everyone she was dead because he was so embarrassed by his daughter. I’m not promoting promiscuous sex- don’t do it- but something like that is utterly destructive to a person’s sense of self. There are worst things in life people have done. There is a difference between hurting yourself and hurting others. If you aggrieve yourself by having promiscuous sex, fine, it doesn’t really affect anyone else but yourself. And possibly your parents. But if you lie to others, treat them badly or injustify people, that is worse than hurting yourself. Maybe this belief is inherent in people and, so, without realising it, most people would side with Philomena than the church, because the church was causing sorrow in others.

On a different note, when the church told Philomena that her son’s records had been destroyed in the great fire, but only the contract that she couldn’t go after him remained

Judy Dench and Philomena Lee
Judi Dench and Philomena Lee

(how convenient)- the reason they gave for this was because the church was ashamed foe having sold babies to Americans. Keeping in my mind this is a true story, does anyone else think , say for example, if a person does something wrong and feels ashamed about, wouldn’t the next instinct be to try to help what or who you have wronged, however possible? It took me by surprise when the church was still trying to hide the babies from their mothers if they were sorry…maybe their true intention was to burn all those documents so there was no written proof that they ever did sell the babies. Maybe that’s just my crazy conspiracy theory. Anyone has any extra information on this topic, I would appreciate it greatly 🙂

One aspect I have to really hand to the cinematography team is when they ran clips of Anthony’s life throughout Philomena. It’s a very brief, but sure-fire way, of helping the audience discover him as his mother does. Very clever.

Overall, an emotional-roller-coaster of a movie. A part of me had wished that this movie had won in the Oscar awards; but then again I have a soft spot with anything with kids in it. Brilliant performance by the main actress and deserves the recognition that she got from the Oscars. I hope for all the separated mothers and children that they shall find each other one gloriously beautiful day.

Verdict: 10 of 10 kicks

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