Have you seen The Imitation Game starring Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch? Have you wondered what is historically accurate in the film, what is true and what false? Is Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Alan Turing accurate? Does Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Joan Clarke get over her true character?
This blog post is a collection of links to information that is related to The Imitation Game and will hopefully go some way towards answering questions that you may have about Turing, The Imitation Game and Bletchley Park.
I have been involved with Bletchley Park and known about Alan Turing for over 10 years. I spearheaded a campaign to save Bletchley Park in 2008 which I write about in detail in my forthcoming book Saving Bletchley Park: the story of Bletchley Park and the campaigns to save it. Bletchley Park is now a museum open to the public, do visit if you can and don’t forget The National Museum of Computing next door.
REVIEWS OF THE IMITATION GAME
I wrote a review of The Imitation Game that @pubstrat on Twitter said is
“One of the most thought provoking film reviews I have ever read.”
Here’s my review written after seeing the film and being on a panel afterwards at the Phoenix Cinema in London: The Imitation Game: Art Imitating Real Life?
There are many other reviews including:
“Broken codes, both strategic and social” The New York Times
“Why you should watch The Imitation Game and why you might want to skip it” Tech Republic
“An engrossing and poignant thriller” The Guardian
What’s the best review that you have read and why? Do post a comment below and I’ll add it to the list :)
Veteran Ruth Bourne, 2 Turing experts and me on stage after a screening of The Imitation Game in London
BOOKS ABOUT ALAN TURING + JOAN CLARKE
The book that inspired the film is Andrew Hodges Alan Turing: The Enigma a definitive biography of Turing. Very few of us would have heard of Alan Turing if it were not for Andrew.
Alan Turing: his work and impact by Barry Cooper who relentlessly promoted and campaigned for more recognition for Turing and his work by organising the Turing Centenary celebrations in 2012.
Alan M. Turing written by Turing’s mother Sara Turing.
There’s also Alan Turing e l’intelligenza delle macchine by Teresa Numerico in Italian.
I’m eagerly awaiting a book by Kerry Howard “Women Codebreakers at Bletchley Park” the story of three female codebreakers: Mavis Batey, Joan Clarke and Margaret Rock. Kerry has recently had contact with Joan Clarke’s relatives which is very exciting news. The book will be out later this month (January 2015). There’s also lots of info on Kerry’s “Bletchley Park Research” website.
FACT OR FICTION? WHAT IS TRUE AND WHAT IS FALSE?
Steve Colgan and I put together
“10 things you need to know about The Imitation Game“, which looks at what was true and false in the film.
We also did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session which is a public Q and A about The Imitation Game and Bletchley Park: “IamA Dr Sue Black, I started a campaign to save Bletchley Park as featured in The Imitation Game. I am joined by co-author of my book Saving Bletchley Park and QI Elf Steve Colgan and we are experts on the history of Bletchley Park and Alan Turning AMA!”
FIRST HAND STORIES ABOUT ALAN TURING
I, of course, have not met Alan Turing, but have met several people who did over the years of my involvement with Bletchley Park. Turing’s mentor at Bletchley was the codebreaker Max Newman. Newman also testified for Turing when he was sentenced and prosecuted. I’ve spoken several times to William Newman, Max Newman’s son about Alan Turing and what he remembers of him. William told me stories of when he was a child and Turing used to visit. I relate two of these in Robert Lewellyn’s Carpool interview with me from a few years ago about Turing and Bletchley Park and it’s significance.
CAN YOU HELP? WHAT’S THE BEST LINK YOU HAVE FOUND?
I will be updating this page regularly, this is just a start with information that I know of. Please do add useful links in the comments below and I’ll add them to the page as we go.