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An Alan Turing expert answers your The Imitation Game questions

imitation game faq

The Imitation Game is the new film starring Sherlock Holmes as Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, and Keira Knightley as Kate Winslet as Joan Clarke. Together they are two mathematicians in World War II trying to build a bombe. The film will soon be available on DVD, blu-ray, and as an animated GIF set on tumblr.

These are the Imitation Game FAQs.

What’s The Imitation Game? Is it some sort of ‘70s gameshow involving Bruce Forsyth and Mike Yarwood?

First of all, no. Second of all, how old are your references, are you like a million years old? Thirdly, The Imitation Game is about the famous mathematician Alan Turing, it cuts between three periods of his life, namely his school days, breaking the Enigma code in World War II, and his arrest in 1951 for gross indecency – i.e. being gay. The title is a reference to a paper Turing wrote about computers, and whether computers can think.

I’ve heard of Alan Turing! Wasn’t there a big thing about him getting a pardon or something a couple of years ago? Did that ever happen?

It did. Turing was arrested for being gay at a time when it was illegal. They put him on hormone treatment to “cure” him, and in the end he was found dead by cyanide poisoning which the coroner concluded was suicide. Yet he saved countless lives during World War II.

This is the breaking the Enigma code thing?

That’s right. The Germans were sending their secret messages using a code machine called Enigma which they thought was unbreakable. If the allies can break those codes they’ll be able to read all those German secrets. That was slightly useful.

So is that what the film is about, breaking Enigma in World War II? That sounds cool.

It is.

Is it a good film?

Oh yeah, it is. It’s beautiful. There’s drama, excitement, code breaking, World War II-ness. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll write a review.

Great! I’ll definitely go to see it then.

You should.

You sound like you know a lot about this Alan Turing person.

I do.

Is it accurate?

No.

Wait, what? You were praising it a moment ago!

Indeed, it is an excellent film. It is also wildly inaccurate.

Oh, but you’re like some sort of expert, this is just going to be complaints about ridiculous things like they drink Ovaltine and that wasn’t a popular brand until 1953. Don’t take it so seriously, things like that don’t make it a bad film.

Oh I agree! Sure I could write a list like that and pick apart all the anachronisms and confused chronology, but to that would be missing the point. By dramatising events not only does that make the story clearer and easier to understand, but it allows you to reach your audience on an emotional level – to make your audience care. And The Imitation Game will make you care. But at the same time, The Imitation Game dramatises events so far that it steps into misinformation.

I’ve just checked Wikipedia, it says Ovaltine was exported to Britain in 1909 so you’re fine there.

Ok, what are these major problems? Do they at least get the stuff about Alan Turing right?

Sure, unless you count things like his personality and motivations.

I do count things like that. I’ve seen the trailer, it looks like Benedict Cumberbatch is really winding up the people he worked with. That’s the problem with being a genius I suppose!

Exactly, in the film it is clear that, as a result of being a genius, Turing is finding it difficult to interact with the people around him, coming off as arrogant and humourless. Pfft! Geniuses eh. Amiright!

But this isn’t quite the Turing I know. By all accounts, he was socially awkward, not in an arrogant way but in a shy way. He was the classic disorganised boffin, with a high pitched voice, a stutter, and was extremely self-effacing. Think more Peter Falk than Benedict Cumberbatch.

I see, well done casting agents.

Khaaan! *shakes fist*

And how would you know anyway?

True, I’ve never met Alan Turing – he died in 1954 so there aren’t many people left who have – but I’ve met some of the people who have and are still around. Like people who used to work with him at Bletchley Park in World War II, so they would know. I’ve also read the excellent biography of Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges on which this film is based. Hodges had some problems with the script as well.

Well I guess it could be worse. They could have made him straight or something, and given him a girlfriend. Imagine that!

….

What?

Yeah, about that.

No! They didn’t! For the love of Pete!

Wait wait wait. That bit was sort of ok. In 1941 Alan Turing did get engaged to one of the girls who worked for him, another mathematician called Joan Clarke. She was a real person. Turing confessed to Joan that he had homosexual tendencies the day after he proposed, apparently she was unfazed by this and they remained engaged for six months or so. That’s just the way posh people in the 1940s operated I guess.

That story is rarely told, and it is fascinating. It’s true that Turing’s biographer thought they overemphasised this relationship, and there were accusations that the film was “straight-washing” the character, but I think they pulled it off.

So it’s clear that Turing was gay?

Yes, in fact he is absolutely gay in the three periods of his life covered by the film. His first crush as a school boy, trying to fit in as an adult, and then the eventual consequences of that including his arrest in 1951.

Phew. At least the story is accurate, people will learn loads about the story of the World War II code breakers.

Weeeell… if someone were to write an essay about Alan Turing and the WWII code breakers based on what they learnt in this film I would probably give it an F.

It’s like the writer had the gist of the facts and then went, ah that’s enough. You might expect to sacrifice some accuracy for the sake of drama, but a lot of the time there was no reason why it couldn’t have been dramatic and accurate.

What did they get wrong about code breaking then? Is this going to be some boring answer involving diagrams and funny maths squiggles?

I can do that if you want, but maybe later. But there is a very dramatic moment in the film when Turing suddenly realises the trick to break the code.

Turing has to fight to get permission to build his code breaking machine. So Turing breaks all the rules and writes a letter to Winston Churchill himself and gets himself put in charge. He angers his superiors and alienates his co-workers with his single minded obsession of building his machine. Tempers flare as it appears the machine is a complete disaster: the machine doesn’t work. Then in a flash of inspiration Turing realises that they need to input some known piece of text from the code, a phrase they can guess – something like “Heil Hitler”. Turing tears out of the pub, runs across town, his co-workers trailing behind. If they input this guess into the machine they can break the code!

The audience gasp!

Wow. That sounds exciting! What’s wrong with that?

Imagine a film about the invention of the train, in which people said “This is all well and good, Stephenson, but it doesn’t work. These wheels are rubbish and it keeps sinking in the mud. What were you thinking!” Followed by a scene of Stephenson later bursting into their office saying “I’ve got it! We’ll put it on tracks!”

That. The code breaking machine was designed to work on known phrases like “Heil Hitler”, that’s what it was built to do. You could still have had a dramatic realisation scene, or a scene when they turn on the machine for the first time, but instead they decided to make the machine out of madeupium.

I do laugh at the scenes of the machine just spinning away with no input.

Still sounds like a technical thing only you would care about.

Maybe, but you remember all that stuff about writing to Churchill to put himself in charge, and alienating his co-workers. These events pretty much dominate the story for the first half of the film. None of that happened.

What, so the majority of the film is about stuff that didn’t happen?

Pretty much. In the film, his superior wants him out, and doesn’t understand how a mathematician can solve a problem where others have failed. Meanwhile his co-workers hate him because he won’t work as a team. He is alone and no one else can see the potential of what he trying to make.

The truth is, Commander Denniston had been in charge of the code breakers for twenty years and knew exactly the sort of person that was needed to break Enigma. Turing was in charge from the beginning and, together with the other academics, they worked on making Turing’s idea a success. There is no record of them punching each other in the face.

So the film makers created a film about a lot of people being antagonistic towards each other for no reason?

Yeah. The jerks.

So, what, was this code breaking machine they were trying to make some kind of early computer? That’s pretty cool!

The code breaking machine Turing designed was called The Bombe, and that’s definitely how it comes across in the film, as a kind of computer.

Was it then?

No.

As a young man Turing had conceived of a hypothetical machine, called a Universal Machine, which could run any computation. All it needed was a set of instructions – if you give it a different set of instructions and it would perform a different job – that’s what a computer does, like apps on a smartphone.

But the Bombe machines were definitely not Universal Machines, they were made to do one job – find Enigma settings. It could no more change its purpose than a speaker can turn into a hairdryer. You can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Oh, and I might as well point out that the first Bombe machine was called Victory. Isn’t that a cool name. It wasn’t called Christopher, that’s just something they changed to add a significance to the name that wasn’t really there.

Eh? Why is Christopher significant?

Because that was the name of Turing’s boyhood crush. They used to do science together, and both wanted to go to Cambridge. The love was quite possibly unrequited, nothing was acted upon. When Christopher died young, Turing was devastated. It’s really sad.

Aww. So he called his machine Christopher! That’s so sweet.

Yeah, just to repeat, the machine was called Victory. And they ended up building 200 Bombe machines.

Ah, now I saw this in the trailer! They used a crossword competition to recruit people. That’s how they recruited Joan Clarke, they would never have recruited her otherwise, the sexists!

There was a crossword competition, that’s a great story, but it’s not how Joan Clarke was recruited. She was recommended by one of her lecturers from Cambridge because she was a very talented mathematician.

There was sexism in that Joan was paid less to do the same job as a man, but the film basically boils that down to “Haha! Women can’t be mathematicians!” It’s about as subtle as a brick in the face.

So the made up stuff is just characters’ personalities, motivations, how the characters worked together and what they did. Is that everything?

Yeah, just the majority of events in the film. And the spy stuff.

Not the spy stuff too! Spy stuff is cool!

You bet! And you’ll love this spy. He is horrible. And there’s one moment when he gives Turing a terrible ultimatum. When you watch it in the cinema you should boo him. Boo! BOO!!

What is true is that there was someone passing information onto the Soviets, but he worked in translation, not code breaking, and wasn’t discovered till after the war. He would have had no contact with Alan Turing. Your tolerance for that plot line depends on how far you are happy to stretch the phrase “based on a true story”.

In a bizarre twist, the need for total secrecy ends in them hiding the fact they have successfully broken Enigma from everyone, including Commander Denniston.

Hang on, I thought Denniston was the guy in charge?

He was.

Isn’t it important for the guy in charge to know the code had been broken?

You would think so, yes.

I think you just don’t like films. Go watch a documentary.

Not at all! I just think it could have easily been accurate and dramatic. As a film it is excellent. And if you know absolutely nothing about Turing you will learn that he was a mathematician, a World War II code breaker, and did something important with computers. You’ll learn about his arrest in 1951. And you will feel the drama of breaking those secret messages.

One scene where the dramatisation really does work is the moment they realise one of their ships in the Atlantic is about to be attacked, and they can’t act on this information without revealing the code had been broken. One of the team is particularly distraught because he has a brother on that ship, yet Turing has to be the heartless one and insist they cannot act. That is a perfect dramatisation of the dilemma faced by code breakers every day.

I hope people will see the film and be inspired to find out more! But be warned, it’s about as accurate as I am popular at parties.

Right, fine. I’ll watch it, and then I’ll go watch a documentary or read that biography to find out what really happened. How about that?

You do that.

And which documentaries or books do you recommend?

There’s Andrew Hodges’ biography of Alan Turing on which this film is based. It’s a bit of a tome, but thoroughly readable. This book more about the man than the maths, but when he gives you the gist of the idea, you know it’s an accurate gist.

If you want an introduction to Enigma including rotors and all that stuff, get The Code Book by Simon Singh. It’s a brilliant history of codes, with details explained in an understandable way when you want them.

If you want some details of how Enigma was broken by someone who was actually there, read The Hut Six Story by Gordon Welchman – a man whose contribution is criminally cut out of The Imitation Game and attributed wholesale to Hugh Alexander who wasn’t even present at that time. Figure that one out, I can’t.

If you want a documentary the definitive one is Station X, a documentary series made by Channel 4 in the late 90s, it’s worth seeking out.

Breaking the Code is another movie based on the life of Alan Turing, this time with Derek Jacobi. That concentrates more on the gay issues, but includes some Enigma stuff too.

There’s also the film Enigma with Kate Winslet, remember that? I have no issues with the accuracy in that film. Also, a lot of people think it’s slightly dull. Make of that what you will.

You don’t want to see my FAQs for the film U-571.

What was your favourite nit-picking inaccuracy?

When Hugh Alexander is introduced as a British chess champion, which Alexander corrects with “twice”. It’s true, Hugh Alexander was British chess champion twice. The second time in 1956.

Hugh Alexander will correct mistakes you make about things that are going to happen IN THE FUTURE!

60 Responses to “An Alan Turing expert answers your The Imitation Game questions”

  1. Liz Hind

    Thanks James. I think I’ll just stay at home with a book. I really don’t need people making stuff up to get me interested in a story about how we won the war.

    Reply
    • Christian Perfect

      But it’s a really good film! I was pleasantly surprised by how little I minded the historical inaccuracies. See it for the many many zingers in the script if nothing else.

      Reply
      • Liz Hind

        If I want an exciting film then I could watch Godzilla, or Conan The Barbarian, or something that isn’t dishonestly pretending it has something to do with real life. I’m not going to learn anything from it. I could spend the time and money better.

        Reply
        • Christina

          While you feel you may not learn anything from the film, it’s still money well spent if you go to see it. When you purchase tickets for a movie about mathematics, science, and complex, heroic characters who work in STEM fields, you’re telling movie executives that you’d like to see more of those types of films. Supporting films with these qualities is money well-spent, I think!

          Reply
          • Christopher

            With all of these Chrises vouching for the movie, how can I say no?

            Also, that’s a great point. I’m grateful that we’re at a place where we even have popular STEM movies to nitpick over.

    • Jim

      You should watch it for the feeling the movie gives you and especially the amazing soundtrack!

      Reply
  2. D Spence

    James, you have a bad case of talking to yourself.

    But seriously, good article. Do a commentary when the DVD comes out.

    Reply
  3. Patrick Willliams

    Is there anything known about the invention of the Enigma machine? From what little I know it seems an incredibly impressive machine, and yet I have never heard even passing mention of the work that went into its development. Obviously, it was part of the Nazi war effort and hence we probably shouldn’t posthumously decorate its inventors, but surely their work would at least be interesting to study

    Reply
    • Mike Ledermueller

      It wasn’t part of the Nazi war effort. Its origins are well known. In fact, it was available commercially, sans plugboard, long before the war and the allied countries had copies. Eventually the German navy chose it as their primary cypher method.

      Reply
  4. LP

    “But be warned, it’s about as accurate as I am popular at parties.”

    Awwww. You’d be popular with me, at least!

    Reply
  5. Kerry

    This is my favourite & unique review of the film. I didn’t mind the factual errors too much as I have so far watched it with my entertainment head on (mostly) and I am starry eyed over the impact it is having at driving the frenzy of extra public interest in Turing, Joan & Bletchley Park. I do mind that Bletchley Park isn’t actually Bletchley Park. I don’t think the phrase ‘true story’ should be used. Remove that and it’s not pretending to be true. I loved the interpretation of the reasons for Joan Clarke and Alan Turing’s engagement. It made me feel a bit gooey inside. I think the film captured the inner warmth of the characters (scene with apple) and the intellectual companionship (codebreaking and botany). In real life there was probably lot of happy, comfortable silences, games of chess and knitting going on between them. Apparently. The film definitely gets Joan’s recruitment and her place in the Hut 8 Scooby Gang from the beginning wrong. But that’s another story. I say watch it and enjoy it with your entertainment head on, then watch it and enjoy picking it apart. Then go to Bletchley and coo over the props and sleep soundly knowing that the entire world now knows the name ‘Turing’.

    Reply
    • Christopher League

      Thank you Kerry, I think your perspective is bang on. I loved the film for exactly the reasons you specified. It’s interesting to pick apart the inaccuracies, but the bottom line is that it’s a great story, and the characters deserve far wider recognition than anyone has achieved so far via biographies and documentaries.

      Reply
  6. Mark Bryan

    I thought the opening scene of the newspaper seller shouting ‘war is declared, millions to be evacuated’ as AT promptly headed for Bletchley hugely crude and unpromising, but it picked up from there. As someone who knows the story vaguely, I felt short changed with the sense that the solution was just recognising that all messages ended Heil Hitler, and would have stood having my mind blown by more explanation and emphasis of the 159×10^18 (or whatever) aspects. Something about regular key changes? Also, the spy in the camp bit was news to me – thanks for clearing that up. It’s a tad scandalous that they spiced it up with something as diametrically opposite as that. I enjoyed it, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed the accurate story even more.

    Reply
  7. John Miller

    Have just seen the film. I loved it. Yes there are historical inaccuracies but it is a “Hollywood” film – not a documentary. At the beginning it states “Based on a True Story”. Jut go and see it for what it is,,,a damned fine film.

    Reply
  8. Matías Braun

    This is EXACTLY what I needed. Watch the movie being aware of the inaccuracies. If you of all people enjoyed it, I should too, though I’m very sensitive about inaccuracy in biographic stories. As long as he’s gay, I’m cool with it. Homophobic people who hate through the internet will be sooo pissed… :D

    Reply
  9. Marina

    I want more film reviews of this format! :) I’d recommend that Horizon documentary The Strange Life and Death of Dr Turing. The Derek Jacobi film sounds good and I just found it on YouTube. But I think I’ll give The Imitation Game a miss…

    Reply
  10. Kaci

    If they had not made this film, how many reviewers on this board would have ever heard or cared about Alan Turing? Not many. The film producers have said over and over this is a movie, not a documentary. If left up to writers like in this article, would you haved cared that Turing died at such a young age of 41 because they made him take estrogen shots? Really shots like that on a man, would destroy you. In the 50’s I can’t even imagine what medicine was used.

    It’s all fine you say to tear apart a film, that is hoping you see how Turing should be redeemed. The movie is very good, I saw it a film festival….perfect no, but you leave the theater feeling it’s just a bit better out there as long as their are men like Turing, who saved so many lives.

    Reply
  11. fiona

    In 1930s/40s/50s England :
    “smart” meant well-dressed – “clever/bright/brilliant” could have been used
    “sick” meant “vomit” – “ill” should have been used.
    And why was someone bound by the Official Secrets Act blabbing all to some random policeman?

    Reply
  12. Chris

    Some good book recommendations there there, thanks. Visited Bletchley last week and watched the film this evening, enjoyed it but felt Denniston got a rough deal, allong with the 9000 other people left out of the film.

    Reply
  13. Jake

    Whilst I agree Denniston has been short-changed by the film I was under the impression
    that Turing and his co-workers wrote to the highest level complaining about lack of funding for more staff and praising the efforts of another administrator. This then led to Denniston and his deputy being replaced by the recommended character (not by Turing). Denniston was given a completely different job elsewhere on reduced pay leading to inability to pay his daughters private school fees. However Denniston was quite old and had already had a very long and distinguished career prior to WW2 so this seems a little surprising.

    Reply
  14. paul hughes

    I’m not a frequent viewer of this site but I am surprised at the number of people who are willing to accept lies about real people (which in a legal sense would have to deemed as being told with malice) as entertainment.

    Reply
  15. Dan Beeston

    I loved the film and I felt that it told the story extremely well. Of course the “big reveal” of the trick that gets it working is simple enough for the average punter to understand but I’ll wager that the exact same moment came to Turing at some point, but that it actually involved some serious maths that was hard to convey to the lowest common denominator.

    This is an exciting film that tells the story. Watch the film, read this great writeup that you just read, and you’re golden.

    Reply
  16. Mike Ledermueller

    James, thanks first to Simon Singh’s Codebook then to your Numberphile videos on Enigma(thanks also to Brady!), I have been on and Enigma and Ultra bender this past year. It started with this project: http://cryptomuseum.com/kits/enigma/support/cases/0020/index.htm and continues with my pile of books I continue to work through on all things Ultra. I saw The Imitation Game this past summer at the Toronto Film Festival and when I read this article today, every one of your thoughts were the same things I as feeling as I watched the movie this summer. When I finished the article and saw YOU wrote it, I almost died, of course it was yours. Thanks so much for getting me hooked!

    Reply
  17. Harold Somers

    I enjoyed the film. There are always linguistic anachronisms in these films, starting with people’s accents. I thought I might mention that Tippex, on which a minor plot line depended, had only just been invented in 1951, and wasnt commercially available until the mid 1960s.

    Reply
  18. Ken Davies

    A german signaller who sent a message was asked to send it again as there had been some corruption in the initial message. He had almost come to the end of a long shift and did not bother to reset the initialisation codes which began all messages. As a consequence it was realised at Bletchley that the first two and final two blocks in the message were a part of the setup of the Enigma machines…. it was nothing to do with Heil Hitler endings. How do I justify this claim, well I was an operative for one of the Y stations that fed Station X, I was also involved in code breaking and as a final marker I was also involved in transmitting and receiving morse code transmissions of the code groups and had personal experience of being asked to repeat long messages because of poor reception conditions, or ill experienced operators at the other end, especially as I was coming to the end of a long shift, so I can empathise , though not sympathise with the operator who could not be bothered to reset his code groups.

    Reply
    • Marius Cirsta

      That’s very good to know. I was really wondering about that as it did sound a bit made up so that the movie would be more interesting.
      What you’re saying is more complicated for people to understand and not as cool as Heil Hitler but if it is the truth it’s good to know.

      Reply
    • Håkan Bergman

      I believe that story is about how BP made the first breake into the Lorenz machine, as James describes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBsfWSQVtYA
      The Lorenz and Siemens machines were teletype machines with an encryption addon and so were very vulnerable to what the crypt analysers called depths, i.e. two or more texts sent with the same key settings. The enigma on the other hand could only encrypt and decrypt, the encrypted message was sent in morse, if the receiver didn’t get it the sender just sent it again. It’s true however that cribs like ‘Heil Hitler’ couldn’t be used for the naval Enigma, which was the system Turing and the rest of Hut 4 was working on. The naval system was much more sofisticated and used codes for words, sentences, phrases, letters and very important numbers. When the message had been transformed into code it was encrypted on the Enigma and sent in morse. So the codebreakers had to get their hands on the German naval codebooks to be able to use cribs.
      Had someone actually ended a message with ‘Heil Hitler’ Dönitz would probably have had him executed, not because he was antinazi, but because it would have been against security rules.

      Reply
  19. Brian Matthewson

    My favorite anachronism was in a scene in Britain in the 40’s when one character says to another character “Thank you”. The second character replies “You’re welcome”. People in Britain in the 40’s never said “You’re welcome”. It’s a North American phrase that both my wife & I found interesting when we migrated to Canada in the early 50’s.

    Reply
  20. CalebD

    Nice review. I had some suspicions that things were altered for dramatic effect, especially when the word “computer” was used in the film and later it appeared that they’d created one– I don’t know a lot about computer history but I was under the impression that it was a long, spread out affair with a number of major players. Anyway, this review does a nice job of clearing things up.

    Oh, and Hugh Alexander was just that confident in his game ;)

    Reply
  21. Harvey Black

    I would also recommend Bodyguard of Lies by Anthony Cave Brown
    and The Ultra Secret.
    Both books deal with breaking the Enigma code. Brown’s book goes into quite a bit of background and notes the important role of Polish mathematicians in understanding Enigma.

    Reply
    • Patrick Smythe

      Both Bodyguard of Lies and The Ultra Secret are hoplelessly obsolete – they’re forty years old, and both have all sorts of inaccuracies. Read Ralph Bennett’s Ultra in the West, Ultra and Mediterranean Strategy, and Intelligence Investigations to have something backed by accepted scholarship.

      Reply
  22. Chuck N

    How did Turing figure out who was the Russian Spy in the film? I missed understanding what the Bible had to do with anything.

    Reply
    • Fish Grizowski

      He had come to realize that the intercepted message was encoded with a simple cipher that relied on the key phrase “seek and ye shall find”. He noticed that the Bible was dog-eared at the very page that contains that phrase. He then put 2 and 2 together. A bit silly, but no more so than a lot of the things that James has pointed out here.

      Reply
  23. Andrea

    Hello! My name is Andrea and I wanted to ask you if there is any way to contact you by email to find out more about the subject, because this year I will begin with what in Spain we call “treball de recerca” (is like a thesis in high school), and I would like to make it of something interesting like Enigma and The Bomb, especially getting info from someone who knows a lot about it.

    Reply
  24. Dave

    Please tell me more about U571. From the imdb page, it appears to be a fascinating story of the Americans winning WWII by finding an Enigma machine…

    How could that be wrong?

    Reply
  25. karl fegert

    I think this is an absolutely brilliant film.
    What is the real story of it?
    Recall the title “The imitation game”:
    For the whole film you have one situation after another “Person A talks to person B, but Person B does not understand what Person A means, because Person A is lying / uses encrypted language / is telling the truth (when Alan Turing confesses beeing gay he does it not in order to get rid of his fiancee but in order to protect her / etc. – a really brilliant collection of such situations – included in a sort of thriller which makes enough people pay for it.
    Like a shakespeare drama: Use a historic background to tell about human beeings and their conflicts, but not to tell history.

    Reply
    • Chris Gorman

      The historical fact is very clear – that Polish code breakers broke the German Enigma code in the early 1930’s and were intercepting German military messages for years. When Poland was invaded by the Germans in 1939 these code breakers escaped to France and then England, bringing the “bombe” device with the code-breaking formula with them. Turing and the Bletchley Park code breakers built upon this breakthrough and further refined it as the Germans changed the codes frequently through the war.

      The fact that the Poles made the initial breakthrough is documented in numerous books and articles and was recently confirmed by the BBC. The film The Imitation Game distorts history. It is not a documentary, but a fictional drama that fails to acknowledge the primary role of the Polish code breakers.

      To verify this, simply google Poland/Enigma.

      Reply
  26. Terence Layzell

    What’s the connection between the entscheitsdung problem and solving the enigma code?

    Reply
  27. Marion

    I live in Mexico, what would the title be Spanish?
    Some seem to have a problem with the English titel.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  28. wladimir

    Churchill was still alive when Turing was sentenced. Why didn’t he do anything knowing the role of Turing during the war ?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Very good question! I have often wondered why he and other high ranking government officials didn’t step in to protect Alan from this atrocity.

      Reply
    • Julia M. Turing

      I would like to know why Churchill and other high ranking government officials, who knew the great contributions Alan Turing made to saving his country, did not come to Alan’s defense and protected him from the atrocious actions taken against him when he was arrested and had to appear in court. Of all the books that have been written about Alan, none have answered this and other glaring questions…..why everyone believes that Alan committed suicide by taking a single bite from a poisoned apple. But in reality, there was several bites taken from a 1/2 slice of a red apple found next to his body. Eating a slice of apple was a habit that Alan always did before going to bed. But the police never took the apple as evidence to perform analysis for evidence of ciyanide poison. So no one knows that Alan committed suicide by “eating a poisoned apple” no apple parts were found in the autopsy.

      Reply
  29. MaryClare Rovere

    Thank you for making this and it is really helpful for a report I am writing about Alan Turing and now my misconceptions have been corrected and if you were to grade it you wouldn’t give me an F

    Reply
  30. Håkan Bergman

    At 38 minutes into the film, after the scene where Joan arrives at Bletchley, there’s a b/w clip showing starving people, an old lady is scraping something to eat from the bottom of a waste bin, or so. In the background you here Turing’s voice “Britain was litteraly starving to death”.
    That’s not true, it was never that bad in England, the clip is from somewhere on the continent, eastern Europe probably.

    Reply
  31. Julia M. Turing

    I was concerned about this movie and all the fictitious scenes that was being written in the script and wrote an article in 2013 about the terrible innacuracies? James Grimes cites some of the innacuracies but didn’t mention some of the most aggregious fictitious scenes that really upset me, ex: the scene where Alan Turing’s character is demonized by adding a fictitious scene where Alan allows a Russian spy to get away with stealing secret documents from Bletchly Park in order to keep his homosexuality quiet; building a computer inside his home; j. Clark visiting Alan at his home alone while she was married to another man. I was offended that Alan’s character was depicted in the movie as an arrogant, narcissistic, rude, apsbuergers disfunctional. Alan, in reality, was just the opposite.
    James is incorrect when he states that Alan was engaged to Joan Clarke for 6 months. The engagement was very short lived only about 2 months in 1941.

    Reply
  32. chris

    no mention is made of messers fasson, grazier and brown, the true heroes of the piece, the 1st 2 of whom gave their lives retrieving code books from the scuttled u-559, without which enigma would likely never have been cracked.

    Reply
  33. Ariel

    So the thing about them hiding the fact that they had broken the code was accurate? Even from their superiors? When did they build the 200 machines then? I thought that was the most ridiculous part of the movie..

    Reply
  34. Cya943

    Well, I’ve just watched the movie…
    And I’ve decided to study on the Enigma Code and do a whole oral presentation on it, in History (studying WW2)
    The Enigma machine… No one will see it coming!! :)
    Yeah the movie wasn’t all that accurate, but it sure got me into it, and researching the topic.
    If that’s what the director wanted, i think he’s done a damn good job.
    The film inspired me, to get off my ass and learn something…

    Reply
  35. Dana Reynolds

    Sorry I’m so late to the conversation, but I need some help: Does anyone know anything about the pocket watch that was stolen from Alan Turing? I’m looking for all the detail about the watch I can find. This is research for a young adult novel I’m writing. Thanks in advance to anyone who can point me in the right direction.

    Reply

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