I had avoided watching this film about the life of Alan Turing and his work on the Enigma project during World War II, even though it got good reviews and starred two good actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
One reason applies in general to films based on true events where I am somewhat familiar with the story because of my concern with historical accuracy. I know that such films should not be viewed as documentaries but since so much is true, it is hard to prevent the fictionalized elements from seeping into one’s consciousness and distorting one’s perceptions, since film is such a powerful medium for creating lasting impressions
The second reason in this particular case is that I knew that I would get angry at the shameful way that Turing was treated because of his sexual orientation, which was a crime at the time in the UK.
I watched the film anyway and I have to admit that despite those caveats, it was a good film and I am glad that I did so. It did distort history in many ways, such as by exploiting the eccentric mathematical genius stereotype and portraying Turing to be extremely socially awkward and alienating when in real life he was apparently quite a friendly and popular person.
The film did address in some detail a question that I had that is often overlooked about the consequences of breaking the Enigma code. It immediately made it possible for the Allied forces to counter German plans. But doing so to all their plans would mean that the Germans would realize that their code had been broken and they would shift to a different coding system.
So the strategy that was adopted (at least according to the film) was to only take actions that would look to the Germans as if the Allies had thwarted their attack more or less by chance so that they would continue to use Enigma. This required picking and choosing who on their own side would suffer an attack and die and who would be saved, an agonizing calculus for those involved.
Wars are such a barbaric way of resolving conflicts among nations.
Here’s the trailer for the film.