Alan Turing runs in various scenes. It's never mentioned in the movie, but he was a world-class distance runner. In 1946 he ran a marathon in 2:46:03.
Winston Churchill stated that the Bletchley Park codebreakers made the single greatest contribution in Britain's war effort.
On November 27, 2014, ahead of the film's US release, The New York Times reprinted the original 1942 crossword puzzle from The Daily Telegraph used to recruiting code breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. Entrants who solved the puzzle could mail in their results for a chance to win a trip for two to London and a tour of the famous Bletchley Park facilities.
In an interview with USA Today, Benedict Cumberbatch said of Turing's Royal Pardon, "The only person who should be pardoning anybody is him (Turing). Hopefully, the film will bring to the fore what an extraordinary human being he was and how appalling (his treatment by the government was). It's a really shameful, disgraceful part of our history."
Benedict Cumberbatch confessed that in one of the final scenes of the film, he couldn't stop crying and had a breakdown. It was, as he said, "Being an actor or a person that had grown incredibly fond of the character and thinking what he had suffered and how that had affected him."
At the interrogatory scene, Turing describes the famous "Turing Test". In the original illustrative example, a human judge engages in natural language conversations with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. The conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so that the result is not dependent on the machine's ability to render words into audio. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give the correct answer to questions; it checks how closely each answer resembles the answer a human would give. The test was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," which he asks, "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?" This question, Turing believed, is one that can actually be answered. More than 50 years later, no computer could pass the test.
Commander Dennison says that he has just "rejected one of our great nation's top linguists, knows German better than Bertolt Brecht." That linguist was likely J.R.R. Tolkien, writer of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books, who learned German from his mother. In January 1939, Tolkien was asked whether, in the event of a national emergency, he would be prepared to work in the cryptographical department of the Foreign Office. He agreed, and apparently attended a four-day course of instruction at the Foreign Office beginning on March 27. In October 1939, he was told that his services would not be required, and never worked as a cryptographer.
The 'bombe' machine 'Christopher' seen in the film, is based on a replica of Alan Turing's original machine, which is housed in the museum at Bletchley Park. Production designer Maria Djurkovic admitted, however, that it was made a little more cinematic by making it larger and having more of its inside mechanisms visible. It is neither a Turing Machine, which is the imaginary subject of his 1937 paper "On Computable Numbers," nor is it a computer. The 'bombes' were not physically built by Turing, or at Bletchely Park. They ran at twenty "clicks" per second, not the much slower rate in the film.
Alex Lawther, who plays the young Turing, and Benedict Cumberbatch have each worn dentures in the film which were exact copies of Alan Turing's own 60-year old set of false teeth.
Despite earlier reservations, Turing's niece Inagh Payne told Allan Beswick of BBC Radio Manchester that "the film really did honour my uncle," after Payne watched the film at the London Film Festival in October 2014. In the same interview, Turing's nephew Dermont Turing stated that Benedict Cumberbatch is "perfect casting. I couldn't think of anyone better." James Turing, a great nephew of the codebreaker, said Cumberbatch "knows things that I never knew before. The amount of knowledge he has about Alan is amazing."
The official film website at theimitationgamemovie.com allows visitors to unlock exclusive content by solving crossword puzzles conceived by Turing in his lifetime.
In 1951, when the police first arrive at Alan Turing's burgled flat, Turing is on the floor scraping up cyanide in powder form, which has spilt on the floor as a result of the break-in. He is also wearing a scarf as a facemask to guard against inhaling the powder. This could be a nod to a theory which has arisen in the 2010s, that Turing's death may not have been suicide, but was caused by accidental inhalation of cyanide which was amongst the chemicals he worked with every day.
Mark Strong's character, Stewart Menzies, is the basis for James Bond's boss "M" (for Menzies). Ian Fleming's WWII espionage work at the very least made him aware of the man who ran MI6.
"If any young person ever felt like they aren't quite sure who they are, or aren't allowed to express themselves the way they'd like to express themselves, if they've ever felt bullied by what they feel is the normal majority or any kind of thing that makes them feel an outsider, then this is definitely a film for them because it's about a hero for them," Cumberbatch stated at the European Premiere of the film at the London Film Festival, October 2014.
Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) falls out severely with Alan Turing because of the effect his actions could have on Hilton's brother, serving in action. In the documentary about Bletchley Park, Station X (1999), the real Peter Hilton (by then a professor of mathematics) pays the following tribute to Alan Turing: "Alan Turing...was a genius...and there's all the difference between a very intelligent person and a genius. With very intelligent people...they come out with an idea, and you say to yourself...'I could have had that idea.' You never had this feeling with Turing at all. He constantly surprised you with the originality of his thinking; it was marvellous."
Five weeks before the outbreak of World War II, on 25 July 1939, in Warsaw, the Polish Cipher Bureau revealed its Enigma-decryption techniques and equipment to representatives of French and British military intelligence, which had been unable to make any headway against Enigma. This Polish intelligence-and-technology transfer would give the Allies an unprecedented advantage (Ultra) in their ultimately victorious prosecution of World War II.
TIME magazine ranked Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Turing #1 in its "Best Performances" list of 2014.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Turing are actually related in real life. According to the family history site Ancestry.com, the two are 17th cousins with family relations dating back to the 14th century. Both are said to be related to John Beaufort, the first Earl of Somerset, through Cumberbatch and Turing's respective paternal lines.
The Weinstein Company acquired the film for a record-breaking $7 million, the highest ever amount paid for US distribution rights at the European Film Market.
Framed tortoise shells are seen hanging on the walls of Turing's home. This is an allusion to his later work showing that the patterns on tortoise shells, despite their apparent complexity (and beauty), can come about from a rather simple set of rules or instructions, i.e. the underlying genetic code. This convinced Turing that exceedingly complex biological entities can stem from simple programs, i.e. from simple changes in the DNA. This insight has profound implications for evolution, especially to those arguments asserting that the complexity of life could not have arisen by chance alone.
In its review of the film, The New York Times has indicated a parental warning for "advanced mathematics." The complete notice reads, "'The Imitation Game' is rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned). Illicit sex, cataclysmic violence and advanced math, most of it mentioned rather than shown."
The blue pinstripe suit worn by Mark Strong throughout the film is an authentic suit from the 1940s. It was chosen to set his character apart from his tweedy underlings at Bletchley Park and give him the appearance of a mob boss.
In the movie, the character of Commander Alastair Denniston is depicted as a reluctant participant in the project. The real Commander Denniston was a cryptologist himself. During World War I, he worked for Naval Intelligence, helping to break the Zimmermann Telegram (a secret communication between Germany and Mexico), which contributed to the U.S. joining the war effort. For this, Denniston was made head of the Government Code and Cypher School. He not only understood the importance of code-breaking, he sought out Turing for the Enigma team. Denniston had so much faith in Turing that he even allowed him to take confidential documents home.
In real life, John Cairncross actually never met Alan Turing. Although he really did work at Bletchley, personal consultancies were limited.
The scenes where Turing is waiting overnight for the machine to stop calculating could be a reference to his earlier work on the "Halting Problem." In 1936, Turing had proved that there is no universal way for a computer to determine whether a given program will stop or carry on forever, except by running it to find out.
To play Turing, Benedict Cumberbatch wore dentures, at his own behest. No one else demanded that of him.
The film's screenplay topped the annual Blacklist for best non-Hollywood scripts of 2011.
This is the screenwriting debut of Graham Moore. He had wanted to write a film about Alan Turing since he was 14 as he considers himself a "sort of computer science geek" who used to go to space and programming camps.
There have been numerous articles and books written about the Enigma code breach; however, the role that the Polish cryptologists had played in it was often omitted in earlier works. An example of this was seen in 1974, when F. W. Winterbotham published a book titled "The Ultra Secret," where he claimed that the British were the first to break this cipher. The distinction actually belongs to the Poles, who accomplished that feat, albeit on an earlier version of the Enigma than the one used in WWII, in the 1930s. Their efforts, their transferral of the knowledge they had gained in the cracking, and the later efforts of Turing and the British are, for instance, detailed in Simon Singh's "The Code Book" from 1999. Whereas Britain in pre-WWII times still used linguists to break codes, the Poles had understood that it was necessary to use mathematics to look for patterns. They had then taken a further step by building electro-mechanical machines to search for solutions (known as "bombas," perhaps because of the ticking noise they made). These devices simulated the workings of an Enigma machine and enabled operators to search for the settings of the Enigma, that had encoded the message, by cycling through one possible setting after another. This worked until the Germans increased the sophistication of the machine.
The movie went on general release in the UK on November 14, 2014. Coventry was blitzed by the Luftwaffe on the same day in 1940. It is long rumoured that plans for the attack had been discovered by the Bletchley Park code-breakers but no action was taken to stop it because the British Government was worried that such action would disclose the fact that the Enigma code had already been broken. The idea that the British knew about the pending attack on Coventry is incorrect. They knew there was an attack pending but not where it would be made. The allegation that Churchill purposely withheld information so the Germans would not know their code had been broken is false.
The scenes of young Alan during his schooldays were filmed at Sherborne School, where Alan was educated between 1926 and 1931. Many of the extras who played school boys were pupils at Sherborne School at the time of filming.
Joan and Alan sit on the grass, and Joan says "... but Euler's Theorem gives you that immediately", and there is a very brief shot of some mathematics in a notebook. The notebook sets out some equations involving prime numbers and modulus arithmetic which would in later decades become the basis for public key cryptography, the system which keeps everybody's personal details secure over the Internet. This is of course not an anachronistic "invention" of the RSA algorithm in 1941, but rather a clever in-joke on the part of the filmmakers.
Though Turing's surviving niece, Inagh Payne, agreed that Benedict Cumberbatch's casting as Alan Turing was very well suited, she disagreed with Keira Knightley's casting as Joan Clarke, stating that the real Joan was "rather plain."
Some information on the decryption work done at Bletchley Park was declassified by the British Government in 1996. A 500-page book titled "The General Report on Tunny," written by three of the Bletchley codebreakers in 1945, was declassified in June 2000.
Unlike his well-groomed appearance in the film, the real Turing was known to be careless with his personal appearance.
Alexandre Desplat composed the score of the film in just two and a half weeks. He recorded and orchestrated the soundtrack with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.
Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing) are close friends in real life. In addition, Matthew Goode (Hugh Alexander) has been friends with Cumberbatch since 2000.
The bombe machine re-created by the filmmakers has been on display in a special "The Imitation Game" exhibition at Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom since 10 November 2014. The year-long exhibit also features clothes worn by the actors and props used in the film.
Production designer Maria Djurkovic intended for the wallpapers in Alan Turing's house to be codes, with dots and lines. "It's very subtle, but she's trying to define him," says director Morten Tyldum.
"Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges served as the main inspiration of this film's script. The book had previously served as source material for two made-for-television movies based on the life of Alan Turing in the 1990s.
Benedict Cumberbatch obtained his baccalaureate degree in Drama at the University of Manchester, the same university where Alan Turing continued his work on computing after the war.
In 1932, a group of cryptologists from the Polish Cipher Bureau (Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski), discovered three ways of deciphering Enigma readings.
Joyce Grove, the house used as Bletchley Park in the movie, was the childhood home of James Bond author Ian Fleming.
The National Cryptologic Museum next to the NSA headquarters in Maryland has a US Navy Bombe that was used to break the 4-rotor Enigma, and also a working Enigma machine accessible to visitors. There are seven machines on display including Heer, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine versions. Two are connected to each other so that visitors can send and receive coded messages.
One scene showing the London Blitz had to be filmed on a Sunday, due to London's limited road-closure laws that govern filmmaking in the UK. The art department had to scramble to find rubble at the last minute because they realized nobody had ordered any.
Benedict Cumberbatch landed his second TIME cover, this time for "The Genius Issue" of the magazine, to promote the film. The cover also featured one of the last remaining Enigma machines in the US from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
TIME magazine's chief film critic Richard Corliss titled his review of the film "Dancing with Doctor Strange (2016)," a month before Benedict Cumberbatch was officially announced to play the Marvel superhero. Corliss also called Cumberbatch's performance as Turing "the actor's oddest, fullest, most Cumberbatchian character yet."
Benedict Cumberbatch played another famous English intellectual, Stephen Hawking, in the movie Hawking (2004).
A montage of German newsreel footage shows a brief clip of a tall man wearing civilian clothes and standing with arms akimbo. This is Wernher von Braun, the world's greatest rocket scientist. Among his designs are the V-2 ballistic missile used by Germany during WWII, and the Saturn V rocket used by NASA on the Apollo moon missions.
Google, which also sponsored the New York Premiere of the film, launched a competition called "The Code-Cracking Challenge" on 23 November 2014. It was a skill contest where entrants must crack a code provided by Google. The prizes would be awarded to entrants who crack the code and submit their entry the fastest.
The film and its cast and crew were honored by Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organisation in the United States, in a special gala at Waldorf Astoria in New York City. "We are proud to honor the stars and filmmakers of 'The Imitation Game' for bringing the captivating yet tragic story of Alan Turing to the big screen," HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement.
The concept of the Enigma machine, a rotor based stream cipher device, was originally devised by two Dutch naval officers in 1915 for shore to squadron communications in the Indonesian archipelago (then a Dutch colony). After the ending of the First World War removed military interest and some struggles over patent ownership, it was further developed in Germany for commercial use.
At the beginning of the film, as Turing is travelling to Bletchley, a clip of then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's radio speech is heard announcing the war with Germany, as well as a clip of King George VI's radio speech also announcing the war. Both speeches were also featured in The King's Speech (2010), and Alexandre Desplat composed both scores.
One of the dancers at the Engagement Party is a distant relative of the real Alan Turing.
Benedict Cumberbatch's actor father, Timothy Carlton, was also a student at Alan Turing's old school, Sherborne School, from 1953-1958.
The scenes from Turing's childhood at the boarding school clearly indicate that he was somewhere on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sorting his peas from his carrots is one indicator, as well as his panic when the other boys toss their leftovers on his head and plate is a second indicator. The third is his inability to make jokes or understand jokes. The fourth indicator is his inability to socialize comfortably. There are likely other signs throughout the movie which would go with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.
At the time, 'computer' was the name or designation given to a person who was very good at working with numbers or 'computing' them. Turing calls his invention a 'digital computer', meaning that it is a machine that functions like a human computer.
Matthew Beard, who plays Peter Hilton, considered the Hut 8 Team as "The Avengers in Tweed".
Some of the clothes worn by Alan have linear geometric patterns on them, hinting at his future work in computer engineering.
Catherine Duchess of Cambridge's maternal grandmother used to work at Bletchley Park, just like Alan Turing and his team of codebreakers.
The railway station shown in the movie is King's Cross railway station, London. The same station was shown in Harry Potter where Harry boards the train to Hogwarts.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley had personal milestones during the theatrical release of the film. Cumberbatch announced his engagement to theatre director Sophie Hunter in November 2014 and Knightley announced that she is expecting her first child with musician husband James Righton the following month.
Principal photography finished on November 11, 2013, which coincided with Remembrance Day.
At several points in the film, the correct prewar BS 546 electrical sockets (round pins) were shown. In 1947, the modern BS 1363 sockets and plugs with rectangular blades was introduced in all reconstruction and new construction.
Matthew Goode and Allen Leech play co-workers in this movie working with Alan Turing. They also appear in Downton Abbey (2010) together as well, playing brothers-in-law (married to sisters).
Before playing Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (2014), Benedict Cumberbatch also starred in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) as Peter Guillam. Both characters work in top secret government departments while also trying to hide their homosexual private lives from their superiors.
While being interrogated about indecent behavior, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) explains everything to the investigator with a monologue about "thinking differently". In Steve Jobs (2015), the title character (Michael Fassbender) mentions Turing as an inspiration for Apple products. In that same sequence, the Apple slogan is noted as "Think Different".
About fifteen cast and crew worked on both the spy film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and the later espionage movie The Imitation Game (2014), which was made and released about three years later. This included actors Vera Horton, Denis Khoroshko, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Prior to acquiring the rights for Andrew Hodges' biography, the film was based on the efforts of first-time producers Ido Ostrowsky and Nora Grossman, who were in-between jobs, having previously worked for television networks.
One of two espionage films that actress Keira Knightley appeared in during 2014, the other being Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014).
On 8 November 2014, The Weinstein Company co-hosted a private screening of the film with Digital Sky Technologies billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Attendees of the screening at Los Altos Hills, California, included Silicon Valley's top executives like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Linkedin's Reid Hoffman, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Airbnb's Nathan Blecharczyk and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, to name a few.
Actress Keira Knightley and actor Benedict Cumberbatch previously both appeared in Atonement (2007), which had been made and released around seven years earlier.
This movie was first released in cinemas predominantly in both 2014 and 2015, with the latter year featuring a number of other spy, espionage, intelligence, and secret agent movies, a couple of them also comedies. The movies include: Spy (2015), a Bond spoof, Spectre (2015), Sicario (2015), an FBI film, which has a title that is almost an anagram of Ian Fleming's "Risico" (1960), a James Bond short-story barring the letter "A", Survivor (2015), Black Mass (2015), another FBI film, Mortdecai (2015), which has an MI5 agent lead character, Queen of the Desert (2015), whose central character was a WWI attaché to the British Secret Service, the Bondian Furious 7 (2015), Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015), Bridge of Spies (2015), a Cold War espionage thriller, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), in which Ian Fleming was an original co-creator of, MI-5 (2015), and even Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), a Bondesque homage which was a 2014 film but was mostly widely theatrically released in 2015 and also featured Mark Strong. Also in theaters in 2015 from 2014 was The November Man (2014) and this film. First released in 2014 were 3 Days to Kill (2014) and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014), which also starred Keira Knightley.