Friday, 14 November 2014

The Imitation Game: Making A Code

Respected straight actor plays tortured gay man? It's movie awards gold!

But what that galaxy of stars on the poster doesn't tell you is that even the most glowing reviewers had some serious reservations.

A problem summed up in the headline in The IndependentBenedict Cumberbatch's Alan Turing is superb - but the film is evasive over the character's sexuality.

The Daily Telegraph elaborates;

It's the lack of risk here that grates most. Turing was homosexual, got convicted for gross indecency in 1952, and committed suicide because of his persecution and loneliness. Cumberbatch can suggest all this, but only in outline, because the film backs away in embarrassment from showing a single encounter between him and another man. 

This project inches around the private life of a genius: though he gets to narrate, it adopts an extremely proper attitude towards what should stay private, which might strike some viewers as closer to 1952's prudishness than 2014's relative open-mindedness. 

It shouldn't matter in the slightest that Turing was gay. It shouldn't have ended his career in disgrace the way it did. But one can be forgiven, surely, for wondering, and wanting to see, if it mattered to him.

Peter Tatchell reminds Telegraph readers, Homophobia is still with us 60 years after the death of Alan Turing.

And the hundreds of comments from Telegraph readers show how right he is.

Mr Tatchell, most people welcome I'm sure the more enlightened times that we live in and are pleased to see the back of the pernicious laws that made life so miserable for Homosexuals. But please don't confuse a sense of weary indignation as being homophobia at having our noses rubbed in homosexuality (as well as diversity), and at having laws put on the statute books to try and normalise the abnormal. etc etc.

It's four stars from The Times, but they warn;

Directed by Morten Tyldum, the story goes from the homosexual and mathematical crushes of Turing’s Sherborne schooldays in 1928 to 1951, when detectives arrived at a botched burglary at the professor’s house in Manchester and began the investigation that led to his eventual prosecution for “gross indecency” and chemical castration at a time when homosexuality was still illegal. Yet, mysteriously, we never see Turing in an adult sexual relationship with another man.

All this sits uncomfortably with the rest of the detail provided: Turing’s gay crushes at school, his friendships, his near-marriage, his listlessness under chemical castration. Why not provide the missing piece of the human jigsaw and show that Turing could have as much passion for a man as he did for the Enigma machine? Do we detect the cold hand of the producers, who include American Harvey Weinstein, on the script, sanitising the story for the middlebrow and American market?

Tyldum is probably not to blame — the director’s fondness for dark, twisted drama was revealed in his recent Headhunters — but The Imitation Game has a whiff of Sunday evening telly conventionality. Either Turing’s hidden homosexuality should have been properly handled, or the drama should have focused purely on Hut 8.

Their review is complimented by an article; The Imitation Game’s makers on accusations of masking Turing’s sexuality

The oft-repeated complaint that the film doesn't show Turing being intimate with a gentleman has not been plucked from the pink ether either, an earlier script had a gay sex scene.

The Times quote the ever-hopeless Benedict Cumberbatch; “I would have been happy to play one of those [sex] scenes or not because to me it’s less about his sexuality than it is about love. That he loved men was just a fact for him.”

Good grief.

PS Did anyone else think the timing of Benedict's announcement of his engagement (to a lady!) just last week was, erm, timely?

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