Alan Mathison Turing:
23 June 1912 - 7 June 1954
Mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist, philosopher and hero
Mr. P.J. Evans wrote a BLOG piece 'The Imitation Game: Fact and Fiction'. And I love what he has to say and in lots of ways feel that I haven't got anything to say, as he has said it all for me. It really is well worth a read.
The Imitation Game is a film made in 2014 about the World of the 1940s. This was a very different World. A World that we can hardly understand today. This was a World without Computers, a world where if a girl was 25 and unmarried there was serious concern. They were 'left on the shelf'. The Horror. The Shame. I am 41 and am unmarried. I am convinced Papa would sell me on eBay if only he knew how to access eBay. Although I am getting a little worried as he can now text without sticking his tongue out. This is technological progress.
Keira KNIGHTLY is beautifully cast as Joan CLARKE and her warmth and frank intelligence shines as a woman inhabiting a man's world, and you see why Alan TURING obviously respected her intelligence. The role of Joan CLARKE is perhaps glorified and exaggerated to make more of a role for Keira KNIGHTLEY. But, it is a film, it is a story, it is as many people have said a 'film' not a 'documentary'. It doesn't claim to be the 'real' and 'definitive' story. It aims to entertain, and it does. It entertains and it educates. It is a story based upon facts, and if you want to know the real story, read the books and go to Bletchley Park. Please Please Please visit Bletchley Park.
Dr. Sue BLACK was instrumental in 2008 in setting up a website and starting a campaign to save Bletchley Park, trying to raise public awareness of Bletchley Park and the importance of the role of the people who worked there:
Dr. Black was also instrumental in the campaign to put Alan Turing on the back of the £10 Bank Note, which became a e-petition:
Yes, the film was an oversimplification of events. In reality more than ten thousand people worked at Bletchley Park, more than eight thousand of them were women. The Bombe prototype is fondly referred to as 'Christopher' in the film, a reference to 'Christopher MORCOMB' Turing's School friend at Sherborne, who like Turing excelled at Maths and Science. They were 16 when they met. Christopher suddenly and tragically died two years later on Valentine's Day 1930 from complications of bovine tuberculosis contracted after drinking infected cow's milk some years previously. Turing didn't build the Bombe himself and didn't refer to it as Christopher; but this is a story.
This is not only a World where a single girl of 25 is a concern; and cannot become a fellow of Cambridge University because she is female; this is a wicked, judgemental and intolerant World, a World where it was illegal to be Homosexual. The persecution of Alan TURING for being gay and his subsequent 'Chemical Castration' really is unspeakably shameful. That a society so lacked understanding is unbelievable and is embarrassing. That this punishment was in any way considered fair and just is unthinkable. In a Society today, which is, thankfully more educated, and more tolerant it is just sickening and shaming to look back upon. Political Changes have thankfully been brought about ensuring that Society is more tolerant and follows more robust principles of equality.
We cannot change the past. We can only learn from it. Gordon Brown as Prime Minister may well have apologised and pardoned Alan TURING but I agree with Mr. P.J. EVANS that until everyone so barbarically treated receives an apology the matter is not closed.
I think that an apology is somehow not enough. Alan TURING did break the law of the land, regardless of the fact that it is shameful that such a law ever existed, and he was punished. But the punishment was unthinkable and inexcusable and marks a very sad period in our history and evolution. It is Society who should be begging for a pardon from Alan TURING for subjecting him to such a barbaric and heinous punishment.
A celebration of the life of Alan TURING is certainly not before time. Benedict CUMBERBATCH is, and I am biased, as I think he is splendid; but he is SPLENDID. Simply Splendid. He really is as Alan TURING was, or as I like to think he was; a little bit different, a little bit clever, a little bit impatient, a little bit at odds with the world around him, an 'odd duck' as his mother used to refer to him so we are told. Alan TURING was an outsider that didn't fit in and somehow doesn't belong. Benedict CUMBERBATCH does somehow capture the essence of what I believe, or what I want to believe Alan Turing was like. Yes, there is something of the cliché about him, the 'absent minded Professor' but having worked in Higher Education Institutions and not wishing to be rude, but, there are some qualities that are almost expected intrinsic qualities of academic personalities. Academics who are completely oblivious to the fact that they are wearing their shirt inside out and, with a childlike-innocence are completely unaware that to other this may be regarded an unusual behaviour.
Personally I adore absurdity; I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Intelligence and absurdity.
Alan TURING wasn't a superhero but he did, with the help of many other exceptional characters achieve the unachievable and break the unbreakable. He should be celebrated, my goodness he should be celebrated and I have not even mentioned the work he did to establish Computer Science; and his Mathematical Papers 'Computing Machinery & Intelligence' which considered the question can machines think, the devised the Turing Test, or 'The Imitation Game' from which the film takes its name, all of which slightly confuses me if I am brutally honest.
As the quote that runs throughout the film promotes:
"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."