With all the talk that Benedict Cumberbatch had a major career slip-up taking the Julian Assange role in “The Fifth Estate”, it can probably be quickly tucked under the rug when you consider he has more than enough other film projects in the can. And while he’ll be both Smaug and The Necromancer in the upcoming “The Hobbit” sequels, he has yet another biopic on the horizon called “The Imitation Game” that could potentially be much more relatable than Assange ever will be. When you play a homosexual mathematician who’s considered the earliest pioneer of artificial intelligence, you have a significantly more interesting mix of situations than an itinerant man leaking government secrets.
It seems Hollywood is on to making biopics about famous scientists now who made significant contributions to technology most people don’t know about. It’s amazing there hasn’t been a movie already made about the above-mentioned subject of Alan Turing. After all, this British cryptographer created early computer science that eventually led to where we are now in the evolution of artificial intelligence. He also delved into the world of code breaking and was employed by the Government Code and Cypher School to decipher Navy codes from Germany during World War II.
While that might be fascinating enough, it’s the dark ending Turing had in 1954 due to being a closeted homosexual that makes this film one fitting in with the times. It’s ironic that the tale of Turing probably fits in better with what’s happening now than Assange’s tale of leaking U.S. government documents. Even if a biopic was inevitable about Assange, seeing real footage of the man is enough to get the essence of his revolutionary media tactics.
With Turing, it’s been nearly 60 years since he died of cyanide poisoning. Some say it was an early form of suicide by bullying considering he had to be prosecuted criminally for his homosexuality in 1952. Whatever really happened, the film won’t necessarily be a campaign to clear his name since it already happened through Prime Minister Gordon Brown this last summer.
What this film will do is show a man who had the makings of a story ready made for the big screen. However, it’s safe to say that had there not been a dramatic tale of homosexuality being illegal in United Kingdom of the time, the science angle might not have been as adaptable into a compelling screenplay. The fact that such a man existed who took us to where we are today in computing will likely wake up a new generation to making Turing as much of a household name as Stephen Hawking.
“The Imitation Game” also has one other advantage over “The Fifth Estate”: The subject has been gone for a considerable amount of time. There has to be a case made that biopics need at least a decade or more before a notable person has a Hollywood take made on their life. It gives some time for certain life stories to settle and perhaps turn more into legend. In the case of Turing, having 60 years pass creates a much more compelling tale based on the very case that it wasn’t mainstream knowledge in the U.S. for decades.
The Assange story is still developing and a process that won’t have an end result for possibly decades. With “The Fifth Estate” being a major flop, perhaps Hollywood has finally learned its lesson to instead mine significant stories from years ago that show circumstance having a much fuller impact.