Top Film “The Imitation Game” vs. “Breaking the Code,” the Best Play, Are About Alan Turing [Berkshire on Stage]
Film Review and Commentary by Larry Murray
The Imitation Game opens this week on Christmas Day across the nation, but in the Berkshires, it will only be seen at the Triplex in Great Barrington. Apparently we will continue to have little reason to venture to the North Adams Multiplex, the Berkshire Mall or the Beacon in Pittsfield. I suspect that once again, films with gay content are being shunned. I hope I am wrong, but the continued drought in films with LGBT content is all too obvious at the big cinema operations. In Williamstown, Images sometimes fills in the gap, and in Pittsfield, the Little Cinema at the Berkshire Museum often screens films with intellectual, political and social depth. The Imitation Game has all three.
This is one of the top films of the year, with Benedict Cumberbatch taking on the role of Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal since the days of Queen Victoria. In fact, some 40,000 Brits underwent chemical castration for being gay in the 20th Century. Turing committed suicide shortly thereafter, the effects of the drugs having also destroyed his intellect, which provided him his reason for living.
Those of us were fortunate enough to see the Barrington Stage Company production of Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore this past summer on its Pittsfield mainstage know his tragic story well. Under the direction of Joe Calarco, and with Mark H. Dold playing Turing, we not only learned of the life of Turing, but, unlike in The Imitation Game, got some deeper insights into his sexual identity. On stage we saw two men embrace and more, in the film we see two schoolboys challenge each other with codes and forbidden messages.