The Imitation Game (2014)
During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of “gross indecency”, an accusation that would lead to his conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality — little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, Turing cracked the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, The Imitation Game follows a genius who undertook a project with the highest possible stakes, helped to shorten the war and, in turn, saved thousands of lives.
Alan Turing was real, and his story is both inspiring and tragic, but The Imitation Game is no documentary. His work revolutionized the nascent field of computing and helped turn the tide of World War II, but how much of what we learn about Turing, his work and his life, is accurate? How much was massaged (or created entirely, or actively deleted) to make a good movie?
After the film, Allan Feldman – a Professor of Science Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning of the College of Education at the University of South Florida – will present Heroes, Villains, and Buffoons: Images of Scientists in the Movies, a discussion and audience Q&A that will begin with The Imitation Game and extend to how scientists have been represented in cinema over the years.
Allan Feldman is Professor of Science Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning of the College of Education at the University of South Florida, and the Associate Director for Educational Innovation of the David C. Anchin Center. His scholarship focuses on science teacher education, and in particular how in-service science teachers learn from their practice in a variety of subjects including physics, environmental education, and education for sustainability in formal and informal settings. In addition, he studies the ways in which people learn to engage in science and engineering practices in apprenticeship situations, including REUs and RETs. He has been PI and co-PI of a number of NSF projects, many of which have been in collaboration with colleagues in the sciences and engineering. These include environmental studies of acid mine drainage, arsenic in the environment, algal biofuels, and water and wastewater treatment. Before receiving his doctorate, he taught middle and high school science for 17 years in public and private schools in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.