The Imitation Game parents guide

The Imitation Game Parent Review

With solid performances and a fine script, this movie portrays the incredible mind and fortitude that drove this genius while also portraying the painful costs this man paid for living in his time.

Overall B+

During World War II, the British government desperately needed to find a way to decipher enemy messages encrypted by the German Enigma machine. So they hired one of the best minds of the time -- Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).

Violence B-
Sexual Content B-
Profanity B
Substance Use C

The Imitation Game is rated PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.

Movie Review

When I was a boy, being a “geek” or a computer “nerd” was akin to putting a bull’s-eye on your bottom. So I can immediately relate to the bullying scene depicted in this movie where a young Alan Turing (Alex Lawther) is shoved under the floorboards of his classroom and held captive by his fellow classmates. Incidents like these may well play into the peculiar person the adult Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) grew up to become.

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When World War II was well under way, Britain was feeling the terror of Hitler’s offensive. Bombs rained from the sky and Londoners put their children on trains and sent them to the far reaches of the country where they were less likely to be targeted. Desperately seeking a strategic solution to combat the Nazis, the government hoped to be able to decrypt the wireless communications sent through their Enigma encoder boxes. The biggest problem with the ambitious plan was the code was so complex it was undecipherable. Still, Turing, with his diminutive yet seemingly pompous nature, claimed he could crack the code. The rest is, literally, history.

The Imitation Game deftly balances its attention between Turing’s dogged determination to solve the puzzle by creating the first mechanical computer and his personal life in which he struggles with his gender identity. Although he befriends his co-worker Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), the relationship is based on his admiration for her brilliant mind, rather than romantic interest. Ultimately it will be his homosexuality that becomes his great undoing, despite the countless lives he saves by infiltrating the Nazi’s communication channels with his incredible machine.

Obviously this film deals with mature themes, yet it contains few of the typical content concerns. Smoking and social drinking are depicted in this period movie. The aforementioned bullying and other moments of verbal anger are also included, and we see brief non-explicit visuals of war violence. However, there are only veiled sexual reference and infrequent vague discussions relating to Turner’s sexual tendencies.

For many years Alan Turing has been credited with the invention of the modern computer, but his major contributions to the war effort have only recently been made public. With solid performances and a fine script, this movie excels at helping us understand the incredible mind and fortitude that drove this mathematical genius, while also portraying the painful costs this man paid during a time when homosexuality was deemed unlawful.

Directed by Morten Tyldum. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong. Running time: 113 minutes. Theatrical release November 28, 2014. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Imitation Game here.

The Imitation Game Parents Guide

This movie is based on the life of Alan Turing—who is now credited as a founder in the field of computer science. Learn more about the German Enigma ciphering machine.

Turning and his co-workers have to make difficult choices about how to use the information they have deciphered. How do you feel about the decisions they made? Would you have done things differently if you were in their position?

Despite his ability to decipher Nazi communications and make a significant contribution to the Allies winning World War II, Alan Turing was later arrested for homosexual behavior and was given the choice of a prison sentence or accepting forced hormonal treatments. While debate about gay and lesbian lifestyles continue in many countries, how do you feel about the way Turing was treated at this time? How would Turing have been received today? What changes in our society have brought about this change?

The character of Joan is also used in the script to show society’s prejudices—in her case towards women. How have attitudes changed about females and their ability to contribute in a man’s world? How has this affected modern society?

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