back to article A Bombe Called Christopher, or A Very Poor Imitation

Some weeks ago, on the back of superlative-laced recommendatory posts like this one, I took myself off to the Fosse des Puces high art cinema to see The Imitation Game, the new biopic about Alan "Weird Al" Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Now, I am aware that it is not entirely unknown for Hollywood to apply the odd tweak …

  1. Tim 11

    SPOILER ALERT - This is almost exactly the script from the movie.

    However, cynics might still want to go and see it for the bit when one of the finest mathematical brains in history mispronounces "Euler" and another of the finest mathematical brains in history doesn't notice the rather obvious slip.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: SPOILER ALERT - This is almost exactly the script from the movie.

      "Euler.......anyone?.....?"

      1. bitmap animal
        Happy

        Re: SPOILER ALERT - This is almost exactly the script from the movie.

        Ooooo, having listened to a Radio 4 podcast last week I now know for the first time in [cough] years that it's pronounced "oiler", like "oy" + "ler".

        [very pleased with myself]

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: SPOILER ALERT - This is almost exactly the script from the movie.

          That might be how the Germans pronounce it - but there was a war on you know !

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: SPOILER ALERT - This is almost exactly the script from the movie.

            Come on, everyone knows it's not an Euler, it's an Eule. An Euler is someone that eules a country.

  2. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Cracked it.

    A perfect encapsulation of my objections to this well-intentioned but ham-fistedly executed film.

  3. Chris Miller

    Oh noes, next you'll be telling us that John Wayne didn't win the war single handed!

    I am afraid Mr C, much as I admire his ability, is in danger of becoming stereotyped: "In this part, Benedict love, you're playing an autistic man - give us your Sherlock."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Anyone going to a movie, any movie, expecting anything other than fiction is already in the wrong place.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        "Anyone going to a movie, any movie, expecting anything other than fiction is already in the wrong place."

        Indeed, it is not really intended to retell a story that 10% of people already know. Instead it creates a new story based loosely on the real one in order to entertain the 90% that only have a vague idea that somebody cracked some secret codes.

        Therefore, as is the way with films, it will become historical fact for the 90% that are only capable of being educated by spoon-fed soft information that has been heavily sugared.

      2. itzman
        Holmes

        Anyone going to a movie....

        ....any movie, expecting anything other than fiction is already in the wrong place. ...c f 'An inconvenient truth', which turned out to be a very convenient lie, after all.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Anyone going to a movie, any movie, expecting anything other than fiction is already in the wrong place.

        OK, I'll bite. What was fictionalized in Murderball? In Visions of Light? In Grizzly Man?

        Oh, I know. The typical Reg reader can't deal with anything that isn't pigeonholed and generalized into submission.

      4. Nifty

        "Anyone going to a movie, any movie, expecting anything other than fiction is already in the wrong place."

        The Theory of Everything (well worth seeing) somewhat contradicts that statement.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Anyone going to a movie, any movie, expecting anything other than fiction is already in the wrong place."

        True. Turns out the right place is a cruise ship on its way to La Palma last September, where I attended a factually accurate lecture about Turing given by a bloke who works at Bletchley Park, and <ENGAGE NAMEDROP MODE> I sat right by the real-true-life-and-not-in-a-film Stephen Hawking. I was in nerd heaven.

  4. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    I've seen it, it's terrible.

    What a waste of talent. Save your time and money, stay away.

  5. Neil Woolford

    Even the trailer featured leaden exposition...

    1. Alister Silver badge

      leaden exposition

      Is that Basil's brother?

  6. Alan Johnson

    Not history

    I found the film grating in the way it distorted history for the sake of simplistic over dramaticisation (which was annoying for it's childish implausability as much as its innacuracy) but I still thought it worth seeing as long as you treat the plot as fiction.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      If you treat the plot as fiction you might as well watch True Lies.

      At least there's some explosions in that one.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        If you treat the plot as fiction you might as well watch True Lies.

        I've seen True Lies. I'd rather stare at a blank wall for two hours than see it again.

    2. Chris Holford

      Re: Not history

      I thought the film 'Enigma', which had a fictional plot, gave a more plausible impression of Bletchly Park

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's his name?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Hodges biography

    Do not watch film. Read The enigma of intelligence.

    Stalin famously said that the War was won by American manufacturing, Russian blood and British brains. Hollywood thinks that it was won by the US armed forces. Since Stalin is long dead, we cannot expect much accuracy from Hollywood.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: The Hodges biography

      "Arsenal (store not football team) of Freedom" was definitely an apt phrase for the US manufacturing output.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: The Hodges biography

        American manufacturing, Russian blood and British brains

        Nice for a speech at Yalta, but one immediately notices that there is no word about chinese blood and General Winter. I won't get into how bureaucratic ineptitude of both the german and the russian socialistic regimes played into the hand of the russians over the long run, even though most of the russian military skillset had been "purged" a bit earlier.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: The Hodges biography

          The Russians army may not have been as effective as General Winter, but they posed a threat which created war on two fronts.

          Having said that, the German economy was shot before the war had even really got going. The war just allowed the politicians the excuse for greater hardship than the people would have otherwise tolerated.

          Any similarity with present-day events is strictly coincidental.... etc. etc.

          1. A Twig

            Re: The Hodges biography

            Depends...

            Reading some of the more revisionist historians, the famous "guns before butter" was actually in their view some some rather brilliant propaganda. I can't off the top of my head cite the particular historians, it has been ~12 years since I did any meaningful reading on the subject.

            Proportion of military spend was actually quite low initially, and as Germany emerged from the depression living standards were starting to rise rapidly in the late 30s. So while being told they were making sacrifices, the general populace was actually seeing a better lifestyle.

            This helped to further cement popular support.

            "Apparently we are making sacrifices yet my life hasn't been this good for 15 years, these guys know what they are doing!"

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: The Hodges biography

              Downvoted for stating facts. Are there communists here tonight?

              1. Esme

                Re: The Hodges biography

                @Destroy All Monsters - well, this lefty upvoted you!

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    Thanks for that, Verity.

    Now I don't need to go and watch the film in Spanish, which will be even worse.

    @ Chris Miller, everybody knows that John Wayne didn't win the war all by himself, Audie Murphy helped him, being the most decorated US soldier and a genuine hero.

  10. Mage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Welcome Back

    I've missed you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome Back

      Agreed, all we need now is The Return Of The Moderatrix and the Reg will be back to normal (for whatever value of normal floats your boat)

      1. David Pollard

        The Return Of The Moderatrix

        If that could be arranged I'd even turn Adblock Plus and Ghostery off for two weeks when I visit.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Welcome Back

        You'd have to get rid of the Phantom Downvoter too,

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Welcome Back

          I knew it, the Phantom Downvoter has struck again!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just watch U-571

    and you will see how Hollywood sees WW2.

    Even the Smitsonian missed the 'Harrier' out of an Exhibition of Vertical flight. It took a USMC Colonel to get that fixed (The US Marines were flying them from a base not far from Washington DC)

  12. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Yes It's terrible

    The fictional Robert Harris thriller "Enigma" (Book and Film) is FAR more historically accurate.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Yes It's terrible

      So is "Cryptonomicon", of course.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Yes It's terrible

        "So is "Cryptonomicon", of course."

        It's Hollywood. The Necronomicon is more accurate...

      2. James Anderson

        Re: Yes It's terrible

        At least the math in Cryptonomicon is correct, and, it is (intentionally) very funny in places.

        It also puts a spotlight on the equally remarkable but unsung US reverse engineering of the Japanese crypto systems.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Yes It's terrible

          So who downvotes mentions of Cryptonomicon? Fess up.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Yes It's terrible

            So who downvotes mentions of Cryptonomicon? Fess up.

            I assume one of the Phantom Downvoters just habitually downvotes all your posts - or at any rate, all the ones that have appeared in the forum whenever he happens to read it. I wouldn't assume that a downvote for what is, after all, a rather innocuous post has anything to do with the content.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Yes It's terrible

              So, basically a drive-by voting?

  13. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Oh, dear

    The Stob version not only exhibits the wit and sense lacking in the movie, but would've got me home an hour earlier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh, dear

      Oh come on. It's worth the investment of that hour just to gaze on the lovely Ms Knightley. Unless you're gay like Turing.

      1. Midnight

        Re: Oh, dear

        Are we talking like Turing-in-the-movie or Turing-in-real-life?

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "gaze on the lovely Ms Knightley"

        That depends. Has she started eating again ? Or is she still a stick figure ?

        I prefer my women with a bit of meat on their bones.

        1. BoldMan

          Re: "gaze on the lovely Ms Knightley"

          Has she learned to act with any part of her body other than her chin and lower lip?

      3. James Pickett

        Re: Oh, dear

        What about the lovely Ms Stob, I wonder? Or does beauty x brains still equal a constant..? :-(

      4. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: Oh, dear

        Ms. K is always worth a look. In this case, though, she was handicapped by period costume and hairdos, and by having to recite the distinctly sub-Stobbian dialogue.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Entertainment or documentary?

    Since when has it been a requirement for movies to be strictly historically accurate documentaries?

    If that were the case then based on the movies USA won WW1 and WW2 single handed, nobody else involved - despite the US turning up rather late to the party being unsure whether Hitler was a good guy in the latter case.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Entertainment or documentary?

      It is not a requirement, obviously.

      However, when the marketing makes a point of making you think that they did something that is meant to show a historical figure's life, the least they could do is actually respect what happened in his life.

      Otherwise, they should call it differently, change the names of the characters and the name of the location. THEN they can do what they want, and slap on a "based on the life of . . " in the credits like they usually do.

      If Ray was appreciated at the level it was, it is because they didn't go entertainment with it, they respected him and his life.

      In this case, they obviously didn't, and I won't be seeing it because of that.

    2. Squander Two
      Devil

      Re: Entertainment or documentary?

      > the US turning up rather late to the party being unsure whether Hitler was a good guy in the latter case.

      Absolute tripe. The Americans got started on WW2 long before we did, by sending us Wallis Simpson.

  15. Lallabalalla
    Pint

    I preferred Into The Woods

    It was more historically accurate. And the singing was better.

  16. Whit.I.Are

    For historical accuracy...

    ...you should see "Churchill: The Hollywood Years".

  17. AlicePattinson

    Taking selfie's using Selfie Stick Pro while reading this script made it more fun. :)

  18. jason 7

    I got moaned at...

    ...when I asked in the comments for the review on here, when we were going to get the real story on screen that encompasses all the main characters with actual technical details.

    I'm sure it could make a great three/four part TV dramatisation, kind of like the BBC used to do well about 20 years ago, before they made everything simple for the US market and the decline in the UK education system.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I got moaned at...

      They did. Unfortunately BBC rules call for any character in a period drama to be played by an actor of appropriate superiority.

      Since the 25 year old Turing is an important character he is played by Derek Jacobi who looks 60 (and apparently has done since birth). A pivotal scene has the aging colonel explaining to the young wippersnapper that he should forgot all this youthful sex business and get down to some serious maths. Unfortunately the aging colonel isn't an important character and so is played by a very junior actor who appears about 1/2 the age of Jacobi.

  19. lee harvey osmond

    OT: Fosse des Puces

    See also http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/28/google_gay_translation_fail/ .

    I needed to expand my vocabulary a bit. I foolishly resorted to Google Translate.

    "Fosse des Puces"? "Trench bullets". I acknowledged to myself that I was missing something, and thought nothing more of it.

    Until somehow I decided "pit of fleas" was probably a better translation.

  20. That Lewis Page

    Interesting stuff

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