I originally wanted to watch "Blackhat" this month, but since none of the theaters in my city will be releasing it until February, I instead elected to watch another computer-related film that actually came out a little while ago.
The Imitation Game is a semi-accurate biopic of Alan Turing, a man considered to be the father of modern computing by having developed pioneering work on computing theory, artificial intelligence and cryptography. The film explores both his genius and his personal struggles through his participation in program ran by Britain during World War II to crack Nazi Germany's Enigma machine.
This is a very sensitive movie to create in many respects. It explores top secret, the arguable 'wrongs' done by Britain during and after the war. It depicts Turing as both a victim to prejudice as well as a difficult personality to deal with, and for the increasingly educated and aware movie going public with regards technology, poor representation of the historical figures and events would have been insulting and may dissuade future filmmakers from taking on similar projects.
But it turns out they did their homework this time, and for as many liberties as they took with the details of what actually happened, The Imitation Game is a masterpiece of historical drama with both technical and emotional depth on par with the likes of A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting. There are so many game-changing moments and ethical dilemmas about technology addressed in this film, especially on the devastation a powerful machine can indirectly cause in a real setting. They are things that have been done so many times in other movies, yet here the revelations here are incidental and very natural, with no sense of falsehood or fabrication.
Benedict Cumberbatch was a perfect casting choice since he doesn't have to stretch his acting muscles too much to portray all the eccentricities and mannerisms Turing had. He also portrayed Julian Assange not too long ago so I'd imagine he's on a roll with character studies. And as a cherry on top, he came with a stellar cast of support characters including the best Keira Knightley performance I've seen in 12 years.
Another very delicate topic this film addresses in overtones is the mistreatment of homosexuals and women in our not-too-distant past. While it doesn't really stir conversations, since most of the viewing audience are perhaps already sympathetic to both 'minorities', it does serve as another retroactive apology for Turing, which leave me to have nothing against this film.
All things considered, The Imitation Game is a great film that should be on any film fanatic's to-watch list. It would have easily made my top 10 list last year had I watched it then (again, thanks movie distributors for almost always making Australia a month behind the rest of the world).
I think that this film, along with Her (2013), The Social Network (2010), Hackers (1995), and War Games (1983), are must-watch films for all Computer Science students; perhaps not in their freshman year but towards the end once they develop deeper technical know-how and appreciation of the field. It is a bittersweet story of the human behind the machine.