Let it never be said that I was anything but attentive, engaged and impressed by Morten Tyldum‘s The Imitation Game when I saw it in Telluride two and half months ago. It’s a touching, intelligent, well-crafted film. But a piece I posted on 9.9 called “The Crowd Demands” is nonetheless valid. I noted that Game, boiled down, is “almost entirely” about how the World War II-era superiors and co-workers of the great Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) “didn’t care for his personality or resented his genius, or a combination thereof.” It’s really a film about a group of bright careerists relentlessly giving a genius grief, over and over and over. Except for Keira Knightley, of course.
“In scene after scene we watch Alan Turing’s Bletchley Park colleagues express irritation and disdain about his aloof, superior manner and general lack of social skills,” I wrote. “It reminds us of a lesson that we all have to learn and swallow early on, which is that you must be pleasantly sociable with people you work with (or hang or go to school with) because they’ll make your life hell if you’re not.
“The sentiments of Turing’s co-workers are basically as follows: ‘Most people come to realize by the age of 10 or thereabouts that extra-smart, extra-perceptive people lack a certain normality. They tend to be flaky and eccentric and inwardly directed and not very good with telling jokes and schmoozing and flirting and general shoptalk. We, however, are different. We at Bletchley Park do not recognize that brilliant types need to be cut a little slack, and we certainly don’t recognize this in Mr. Turing’s case.
“’Yes, we understand that he may be just the fellow to crack the Enigma code and therefore end the war sooner and save the lives of untold thousands of English and American troops, and that’s all well and good. But what matters to us is Mr. Turing’s social graces. All we care about is whether or not he’s friendly and gracious and cool to hang with in the lunchroom. If he manages that, fine. But if he fails in this regard then fuck all of that end-the-war-sooner stuff. That’s not what rings our bell.’”