Cambridge University-educated Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a titanic figure in the development of computers, has a claim on our attention that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates do not. His work in breaking the Enigma code used by the German military indisputably helped to defeat Hitler and shorten history's most devastating conflict.
Turing also occupies a prominent place in the annals of the legal prosecution of homosexuality. Arrested in 1952 for “gross indecency,” Turing agreed to undergo hormonal treatments that amounted to chemical castration to avoid imprisonment. His death two years later was ruled a suicide.
Here, director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore jump between Turing’s arrest and scenes of the mathematician’s boarding school days (during which he developed discreet romantic feelings for fellow student Christopher Morcom, played by Jack Bannon) and his heroic wartime service.
From a moral perspective, any story of Turing's career consists of opening a series of secretive thematic nesting dolls. The making and breaking of codes for both Allied and Axis forces was a secret; so was the knowledge that Enigma had been “solved.” Similarly, on a personal level, Turing's attraction to his own sex had to be deeply shrouded.
The film’s big lesson is summarized by Turing in conversation with colleague Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley): “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Thus Turing’s success is depicted as dependent on an odd combination of mathematical brilliance, arrogance and a complete lack of interpersonal skills.
As for his sexual secrets, he masks those, at one stage, by proposing to Joan.
Viewers need not buy into a contemporary agenda contrary to Judeo-Christian morality to recognize the tragedy resulting from laws that deprived individuals of their freedom based on private, consensual sexual activity. Unwise at best, such legislation compelled furtiveness and dishonesty rather than cultivating chastity.
The film contains mature themes, including homosexuality, and brief coarse language. (A-III, PG-13)