Tonight I finally got to see The Imitation Game. I’ve looked forward to it ever since I saw the trailer, for a few reasons. Obviously as a History teacher the story seemed fascinating, and as a Sherlock fan, Cumberbatch in the lead roll…need I say more? 😉 And I’m happy to report that I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The story is gripping, flipping from a plotline in the 1950s, back to the main drama in WWII, as the life of Alan Turing, the genius who developed what will eventually lead to the modern computer, is laid out. Superb acting from the cast, several surprisingly humorous moments, and unexpected moral dilemmas that arise from the breaking of the complex German code make it a worthwhile film. However, I think what intrigued me the most was the elephant-in-the-room subplot revolving around Turing’s homosexuality.
Going into the movie, I knew this would be a key part of the drama, but I was interested in how they developed this part of the story. Even with all his quirks and occasionally rude mannerisms, the audience is not left with any other option than to feel completely sympathetic with Turing. Basically, this film hits you right in the feels. Through scenes portraying Turing’s adolescence at a boy’s boarding school, we witness him being mercilessly bullied, and only eventually finding comfort in the close friendship of another young boy. This friendship eventually takes a tragic turn, but is one that impacts the rest of Turing’s life, as we learn later on. The real tragedy, though, comes at the end, when the British government convicts him of “gross indecency” and sentences him to chemical castration (sorry for the spoilers, but he is a historical person). It’s not depicted in the film, but it’s within this period (which certainly caused him great despair), that he commits suicide.
Here was a war-hero, literally a man who played an undeniably key role in the success of the Allies in WWII, and he is essentially driven to physical and mental devastation by the government he saved. Not only that, but his entire life was spent being the victim of the attitudes and actions of those around him. As a Christian, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s a hard discussion whenever homosexuality is involved, because there is such a legacy of abuse of Christians toward homosexuals. We live by certain convictions, but sometimes those convictions have caused inexcusable behavior. I think it emphasizes the reason why governmental “moral laws” are not typically the way hearts are won, and points toward the eventual abandonment of these laws in the West today
But more than this, I think what caught me the most is not the end of Turing’s life, but the earlier stages. How would he have been different if he hadn’t been bullied by his peers at a young age? Sure, he was a genius, and often that creates mannerisms in people that make them socially awkward, or obviously different. But what if Christians took the opportunity to see the tragedy of this one man’s life, who is mirrored in the lives of so many people today, and choose to respond differently? The problem really lies in the upholding of certain parts of Scripture at the expense of others. It’s easier to be against sin than to show love. And I’m preaching to myself on this one. Relationships (in whatever nature they may be) are difficult. By our actions, or our response to actions, we put up walls between ourselves and others that grow taller and stronger as time goes on. But could it be that as love is shown, imperfectly though we may show it, those walls would be weakened, until they are nothing more than piles of rock at our feet? We may not be able to change entire societies or governments, but we can certainly impact the people we come in contact with throughout our lives. We never know who they could be, and what our actions toward them may produce.
For a complex, brilliant, genius-of-a-man as Turing was, these are certainly simplistic statements. Being such a logical, mathematical thinker, he would probably not have accepted these sort of sentiments. But I think that’s where art, such as this film, comes in. The script, performances, music, every part of the movie makes you feel, which then causes us to think through our beliefs and how we live them out. And as much of a thinker as Turing was, maybe he would appreciate that.