The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything


Howard Adelman

My last blog claimed that The Imitation Game was a summer romance and a few readers thought I was belittling the film. I was not. I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was terrific. However, if a viewer allows the deformations from reality – and there are too many to ignore – to spoil the pleasure of a biopic movie, then that is a pity. For the movie is a very well-made parable and is structured like the mythos of a fairy tale. Northrop Frye taught us that, whatever the variations, fictional structures fell into four archetypes. He dubbed one type “summer romances”. The Imitation Game about the life of Alan Turing fell perfectly into such a structure. So does another film that we watched the next evening and also missed when it first came out, The Theory of Everything. Understanding a movie’s structure greatly enriches the experience of watching it.

A summer romance has one key characteristic – there is always a search. The search is for some idyllic entity associated with a particular space. In the case of the movie about Alan Turing, the search is for a universal thinking machine as a means of unlocking the codes of the Nazi enigma machine.  What makes The Theory of Everything perhaps even more interesting is that the search is not just for an idyllic tool as a method for breaking through a mystery that we are faced with – an encrypted code – but the quest by one of the greatest mathematician’s and theorists, Stephen Hawking (played with brilliance by Eddie Redmayne), to understand all of space itself as he searches for and writes about the nature of time itself. Stephen Hawking wants to find the perfect single equation that will explain everything.

Note the characteristics of both films. The effort is persistent, driven even. No scepticism will inhibit the quest however impossible the task seems at first. The object of the quest always has a sense of the idyllic about it. Further, the central characters in the story are a virtuous hero and a beautiful heroine – not just physically beautiful, though she is usually that. She must be spiritually beautiful. In The Imitation Game, Jane Clarke is without a doubt such a heroine. In The Theory of Everything, Jane (yes, another Jane) Wilde played by Felicity Jones, again with exceptional mastery of her craft, is a heroine that falls into the same category. She loves Stephen Hawking and sacrifices her own career and vision to be married to him and to have his children (three in the end) even though Stephen suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease and the onset is quite swift just as the romance is budding.

Like The Imitation Game, the story is, in Stephen Hawking’s words, only “broadly true”. The distortion from reality is not simply to please a broader audience as some condescending critics aver, but because fiction has its own demands and without fitting into one structure or another, it is difficult to enjoy a movie or a play or a novel. So the hard times that Stephen and his wife Jane went through are alluded to without becoming the focus of the film. As with The Imitation Game, the script is an adaptation from a book, this time an autobiography rather than a biography, Jane Hawking’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen which, helpfully, had the same romantic structure.

If Alan Turing had to succeed in spite of his homosexuality in a society that deemed such activities as not only morally corrupt but illegal, Stephen Hawking had to deal with a very different but also naturally endowed enormous challenge, his disease. Unlike The Imitation Game where the disability is a socio-political one rather than a natural one, in The Theory of Everything, the movie has to spend the first 15-30 minutes establishing the main character as a physically healthy being who will be crippled by his disease but never brought low. So, as the credits role, we watch a young Stephen Hawking cavorting about when he is with his parents in the most formal of settings. And the film begins with him and his friend on bicycles racing through the streets of Cambridge often at great risk to themselves and those around. These are not befuddled, introverted geeks who are odd ducks, but good-looking and virile young men who happen to be brilliant.

The film may progress as Stephen loses one physical faculty after another, eventually even his ability to speak, but it is as perilous a journey as Alan Turing took, but the adventures and the challenges are not in overcoming social obstacles, though there is a hint at some initial intellectual objections to Stephen Hawking’s radical reconceptualising of our cosmos, but the perilous journey he takes is a fight against a disease that ravages his body and not his mind and that placed a death sentence upon him in which he was sentenced to a life expectancy of only two more years. Though his body gradually “dies” and fails him, his mind stalwartly goes on so that the hero’s indomitable spirit overcomes the challenges he faces. In the biopic of Alan Turing, Alan actually dies, first from chemical castration and then, subsequently, by taking his own life. But whatever the various paths each take towards the demise that faces us all, both emerge and are exalted as great heroes of human history.

At the beginning it is made clear that the space in which they live is occupied and controlled by those who not only lack the hero’s vision, but are unalterably opposed to it. In The Theory of Everything, this landscape is controlled by obstreperous villains, some who redeem themselves along the way, but this aspect of the mythos is minimized in this film as Stephen is strongly supported at Cambridge in his audacious thinking while Alan Turing is portrayed as meeting opposition along the way until one by one his enemies are slain and left by the wayside. In the case of Stephen Hawking, the enemy, however, is far more formidable, for the real foe is not simply those in intellectual disagreement, but the very nature of the world that Stephen has set out to understand. Nature in the form of ALS anthropomorphically conspires to prevent him achieving his breakthrough.

In each case, the heroine is a princess in her own right, but her life must be sacrificed when she becomes involved with the hero – Jane Clarke with Alan Turing and Jane (Wilde) Hawking. The Theory of Everything spends a great deal more time on the heroine’s sacrifice than The Imitation Game, for without that sacrifice, there is the message that Stephen could not have survived more than two years. This message becomes completely explicit when Jane Hawking resists the entreaty of the French doctor (he would have to be French in a film about a British hero) who recommends pulling the life support system from Stephen and allowing him to succumb to the killer that has been stalking him.

This is but one of the many adventures along the way, but these adventures have a totally different character in The Theory of Everything versus The Imitation Game. For the dragon that must be tied up and debilitated in the Stephen Hawking film is not embodied in an old misguided social forces and norms but in his own body. It is his own flesh that conspires to defeat his brain. But Hawking, with the help of the sacrificial heroine, wins in the end and Stephen goes on, however wounded and debilitated he became, to become an intellectual hero for the whole world. Alan Turing, however, had to wait for his resurrection until well after he actually died.

Thus, the disease is the demon, not elements in society. That demon, even though never slain, must be stopped in its tracks even if disempowering that demon goes against the very laws of nature. Hence, like all heroes in summer romances, the hero will evince a sense of divinity, a sense of the divine spirit which he himself only comes to acknowledge near the end of the movie, whereas faith in a divine spirit, including within Stephen, who was constantly prompted to espouse such a belief by Jane Wilde both before and after her marriage to him.

We in the audience have difficulty in identifying with geniuses like Alan Turing or Stephen Hawking, but, like the heroine, we can gain proximity through identifying with the heroine who will become the mediating element between the demonic and the divine. For the hero comes from an upper world, a remote intellectual mountain top, that ordinary mortals cannot experience or aspire to experiencing. At the same time, the divine spirit is embodied in the hero so his body and its passions and weaknesses are crucial to the story. So the hero must unequivocally evince youth and energy, vigour and determination in the spring of the life of each individual. In the case of Stephen Turing, his ability to be fertile in spite of ALS, to be able to propagate is critical, for his body, as well as his mind in his case, must achieve immortality in spite of the weaknesses of the flesh.

So both movies are about battles, different kinds of battle in each case and different again from the battles portrayed in the fairy tales we were all told when we grew up. But there is always a dragon, a dark enemy that stands for what is moribund, that is proven through the tale to be sterile in spite of the initial fire power and apparent strength the dragon first evinces. In contrast, whatever the idiosyncrasies of the character of the hero, he is ultimately a man of great virtue in every classical sense of that term. Ultimately, he is the wisest of them all, though he may be helped by other wise men who recognize the extraordinary qualities of the young hero. Further, there is always the underlying message that the heroine is a sibylline figure who sees what no one else can see nearly as clearly and is the true oracular voice that maintains without doubt or hesitation her faith in the divine qualities of the hero. There is also a subliminal quest that the great deed is really performed on her behalf and because of her faith and support.

The enemies, usually all around as in the Turing film, but in the Stephen Hawking film, live at the sub-atomic level of quarks within Stephen Hawking’s own body. They are the keepers of the gold at the end of the rainbow Those keepers must be passed by the hero to get that gold.  As in The Imitation Game, the monsters are horrific, but in this case are even more formidable because they are completely hidden and invisible to the naked eye, making that world even more mysterious, especially when Stephen can thwart its will in spite of all predictions and the obstacles he encounters. The monster may have their aides (Turing’s fellow mathematicians until they are won over, pneumonia as a partner of ALS in the Hawking film), but they too will meet defeat. However, without such aides for the monster, the conflict would not develop in such an intense and focused way.

In the end, both films have a dialectical structure as the forces of good do battle with the forces of evil. Evil in the form of ASL or obstreperous stubborn old men may be overcome this time, but they are never exterminated. They continue on in this world to manifest in another context and for another hero is the making. There is no subtlety is this battle. The competing forces are clearly demarcated and the message of the parable is always very simple and straightforward. The characters around are either for or against this evil, but may shift roles over the course of the tale.  It is, in the end, a tale of virtue out to defeat sinister forces.

As I indicated in my blog on The Imitation Game, the sequence followed is very rigid in a summer romance. We begin with idealistic innocence that characterizes the “birth” of the hero, in these two cases, the intellectual birth, and the role he will adopt. In the second stage, the inexperience of the hero is made evident, in the case of Alan Turing, in facing the social/political forces allied against him while Stephen Hawking has to take into account the new experience of his own body effectively attacking him. Only then does the third stage take centre stage when the hero musters the force and the will to overcome the obstacles and fight to realize his vision and dream, for the ideal must be completed and brought to fruition. The fourth stage focuses on the resistances encountered along the way and, depending on the circumstances set out in the different expressions of this mythos, the resistances and steps in overcoming them will occupy the central bulk of the movie. It is here that the moral message of the narrative is played out, in the case of The Theory of Everything, a moral message about the indomitable spirit of man against all odds to overcome the oppositional forces the hero faces.

So in the fifth stage, the hero and the heroine each comes to a self-realization that neither possessed at the beginning of the tale. In effect, each goes through a similar metamorphosis as when the initial innocent first counters and engages in the world, but this time, near the end of the journey, and at a much more mature level. In the Hawking film, there is the recognition that human love is itself not divine but has its limits. There is nothing wrong in coming to recognize those limits and give up on the romanticized idealistic vision of that love. In the final stage, the audience is taken out of history and into the realm of contemplation beyond the ordinary world. The movies work, using exquisite acting and directing skills and all the other relevant appurtenances to come to completion with a sense that we ourselves have been transported and put on a higher plain compared to the period before we even watched the movie.

Too much reality, and the film does not work. It functions by discarding any elements of the “true” story that will interfere with this progression. So enjoy the films and set aside any carping about the failures of the movie to deal adequately with the experience. In the case of the Stephen Hawking biopic, there is even less attempt to make sense of the science at stake, for the makers of these movies recognize in some core of their being that any fictional representation must obey the laws governing fiction just as the natural world is governed by the laws of mathematics and physics.

Next Blog: Wild

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game


Howard Adelman

The Imitation Game won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2014. I missed seeing it there. When we were in Victoria, the film arrived in movie houses the week after we left. The movie was unavailable in Mexico, but we did watch the Oscars and noted that the movie was nominated in eight categories for best motion picture, best leading actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), best supporting actress (Keira Knightley), direction, music score, editing and production design. It won one Oscar for Graham Moore’s best adaptation as a screenplay I thought the brilliant musical score by Alexandre Desplat that interweaves gravity with suspense should have won. Desplat did win, but for The Grand Budapest Hotel. To add to our frustration, the movie was no longer on screens in Victoria when we returned. Finally, last evening we had a breather and rented the film on Netflix.

What a terrific movie! A spy thriller without the chase, with very little about betrayal, but an enormous overload about secrecy and deception, the movie was as engaging as any action suspense film. It was not a complicated symbolic allegory in the guise of a comic thriller like one of my favourite all-time films, North by Northwest, but a straightforward moral parable. One moral – respect differences. Simple and almost trite, the message was in your face for the line was repeated three times: “Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines.” Those differences include brilliance, homosexuality, and even misogyny in the name of decorous behaviour.

The latter was expressed in the role of Joan Clarke played with consummate skill by Keira Knightley. The moral includes defying prejudice based on gender. “I’m a woman in a man’s job. I don’t have the luxury of being an ass,” declares Joan Clarke to Alan Turing’s astonishment, an individual who is brilliant but also both arrogant and socially awkward, characteristics often twinned in mass perceptions of genius and carried off with consummate skill in the interpretation of the lead character played magnificently by Benedict Cumberbatch. He speaks sometimes with pursed and at other times with furled lips. He carries his body with slightly hunched shoulders and arms held closely to his sides. So his body language conveys both repression and a passion for expression just waiting to explode as in the scene played, not by Cumberbatch, but by Alex Lawther portraying Turing as a young man when he first hears of his friend Christopher’s death over the school holidays and is adamant in denying that they were close friends.

Thus a movie about unveiling secrets begins with a suave secret service intelligence chief (Mark Strong) lurking in the wings supporting the application of Alan Turing to work at Bletchley’s Park’s code-breaking unit in the famous Hut 8 and running interference for Turing in his dealings with his rule and proper order and discipline commandant, Commander Denniston, played incidentally as a terrific caricature by Charles Dance. Secrets abound and overflow in the movie. The enterprise at Bletchley Park was so secret according to the film that no one knew about the intelligence operation until fifty years later – sheer nonsense of course. In the creative area alone, excluding scholarship, Hugh Whitemore’s play, Breaking the Code was produced in 1986, and that play was based on earlier released or uncovered information about code-breaking at Bletchley Park; Sekret Enigmy, a Polish film, came out in 1979. The film was full of many more secrets: the German secret codes that the British were trying to decrypt, Alan Turing’s homosexuality, the presence of a Soviet spy among those working on the decoding effort, Alan Turing’s deep love for his friend at his private school when he was a schoolboy, and on and on.

What is not so secret is that this biopic using real events is but a parable with less rather than more imitation of what historically took place. However, it has wonderful characteristics as a superb parable – simple, straightforward and, also, utterly wrong when tested with actual particulars. Though an adult parable based on history, one set of events focuses on a group of brilliant British mathematicians gathered at Bletchley Park in Great Britain to break the enigma code during WWII. They did it. Breaking the code played a significant role in winning the war. In the parable, these geniuses did so by themselves, even inventing a machine to do the job called initially the Turing machine and subsequently a computer and even building the machine themselves though initially Turing does the construction by himself. Actually, Gordon Welchman built the machine.

Further, they allegedly not only invented the computer and built it, but invented the system for keeping their discovery a secret. The movie suggests that these geniuses had the fortitude and stiff upper lip to allow some of their fellow Brits, including a brother of one of the team members, to be killed by the Germans lest the fact reach the Germans that the allies could read all the German signals intelligence sent via enigma through the rest of the war. By hard-headed withholding their information for a time, they saved countless more lives over the long run.

This provides the second moral message of the film to counter-balance the first. It focuses on the leader of the team, Alan Turing. Instead of insisting on sensitivity and respect for differences, the second moral demanded hard heartedness in order to produce better results – self-preservation or more lives saved over the long run or, in the case of one interpersonal scene, a better quality of life for another whom one loved in one’s own way. That moral was in keeping with Alan Turing’s alleged response in private school described above when he learned that his best friend at school, Christopher, had died and he refused to admit that Christopher was his close friend. The lesson he had learned when he was being bullied and entombed under floorboards at school was that if you prevented the bully from getting any satisfaction from your suffering, that is, if you keep your suffering secret, the motivation of the bully would be undermined. Carry a stiff upper lip as a top British value is celebrated in this film at the same time as the British state is heavily criticized for its anti-homosexual laws and punishments. Tolerance and self-repression can be celebrated as twins for, in a parable, there is no need to sort out contradictions.

The title of the film, The Imitation Game, was a phrase Alan Turing used for a test to see whether machines could imitate, not human minds, but a certain part of the mind dealing with reasoning, what he and we now call artificial intelligence, though it is no more artificial than our human reasoning. The paradox, however, was that in order to make a machine that imitated human reasoning one needed to use creative artifice in the first place to create the machine. The Imitation Game also had a second meaning in the film. Alan Turing was a man capable of stupendous decrypting of complicated codes but seemingly incapable of decoding ordinary human discourse and modes of social interaction. He was both a homosexual and an odd duck. Alan had to learn to imitate ordinary human behaviour to get by in the world. Thus, Joan Clarke allegedly teaches him to engage in ordinary human games by bringing his fellow workers – quite awkwardly at first – a present of apples, a scarce commodity in war time Britain.

The second set of events focused on Alan Turing’s personal life both before the war when he was attending a private school at what we would call the secondary level. Snippets of his past were interwoven through the film along with Alan Turing’s arrest in 1952 after the war for being a poof – a homosexual in British slang. The investigation of his possibility of being a spy was set off by a break-in of his apartment by his on-and-off lover, Arnold Murray, but the break-in is left as a random mysterious event. He was caught in the act and, given the unjust laws at the time that made homosexual practices illegal, he was sentenced to two years in prison or, alternatively, a regimen of drugs intended to kill his libido – chemical castration. He chose the latter, but the movie suggests that the medical regimen also began to destroy his mind. He did not have enough of a stiff upper lip to endure being separated from his thinking machine, which he had named Christopher. Two years after he was arrested, he committed suicide.

There is a third level of imitation going on. The film is ostensibly a biopic of Alan Turing as well as the story of the invention of the nascent computer. The imitation in both cases is helped by interspersing real scenes of suffering and destruction from WWII news stories to reinforce verisimilitude and build up the importance and the degree of risk to both Britain and its citizens if the enigma codes were not broken. But The Imitation Game is an enjoyable artifice and only uses the outline from reality to gain a sense of verisimilitude as the movie is structured as a parable, though in virtually anthropomorphizing the Turing machine, the parable almost becomes a fable in which an inanimate object is made into a human figure as in a Star Wars episode.

I do not believe I am breaking the reviewer’s code by giving away secrets revealed as the film unfolds because the interpretation of Alan Turing’s life and the events at Bletchley Park are taken to be widely known. Even if they were not, most viewers who would love this movie have already seen it. Further, the revelations do nothing to undermine our interest as the narrative unfolds. But one secret that is never really explained is why the film had to be a parable in the form of a summer romance set in the darkest days of British history rather than a more realistic biopic.

Let me deal with the summer romance first. This is a story of unrequited love between a gay man, Alan Turing, and his brilliant mathematical partner, Joan Clarke. As a summer romance, it had to star a complete innocent who emerges into his teens as retaining that youthful innocence in the face of inexplicable and arbitrary cruelty, but soon learns to hide his true feelings and identity. In the process of maturation, he grasps the vision of creating an ideal, a universal thinking machine that can be programmed to break the most complicated codes, a dream that perfectly matches the needs of Britain at the time. However, to realize his vision, he has to counter and fight against a system that resists his creativity, including his own partners in the project. But, in the end, we have an idyll and a reflection and acknowledgement of true genius and, more particularly, the role of Alan Turing in creating victory for the British people. Finally and most surreptitiously, the film envisions as an ideal, a society is which there can be complete harmony if there were as much understanding as an intelligence machine without the repression brought about by inherited prejudices and repression.

One of the advantages I had as a graduate student was sitting in on a graduate course by Northrop Frye in which I learned of a summer romance as a form of mythos. Frye stressed the archetypal characteristics of this form in which The Imitation Game fits almost perfectly. What Frye left out in his focus on the architectonics of fiction construction was the distortion of reality necessary to accomplish such a creation. I have come to believe that such distortion or, more bluntly, repression of the truth, is almost a necessary ingredient to the art form. Knowing that secret allows one to enjoy the film enormously without being too upset by the deformation of history. And there are many, beginning with the Platonic love affair between Turing and Clarke.

Look at the enormous number of distortions and misrepresentations of history in the movie:

  • The members of the intelligence team in the film are made up of a typical collective for a film – Matthew Goode playing the caddish chess grandmaster, Hugh Alexander, who finally comes to recognize Turing’s genius after first resisting his solitary efforts, John Cairncross as the easy-going Soviet spy, Alan Leech, with a friendly manner and a Scottish burr, and, most importantly, the charming, cheerful and wise beyond her years and ever loyal and warm self-sacrificing friend and true love at a far deeper level than sexual attraction, Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightley. However, there is no effort to represent the team that actually figured out how to decrypt enigma. That team included several women and the man who actually built the machine who is not even included in the film
  • The Bletchley Park team was not the first to break the enigma code, a process started well before WWII
  • There were other code-breaking teams and the allies had their own system of codes as was wonderfully explored in the movie, A Man Called  Intrepid, the story of the Canadian super-spy, William Stephenson, accurately retold in Bill Macdonald’s account in his 1998 book, The True Intrepid
  • Turing, in spite of his genius, or perhaps because of it, was never put in charge
  • Using puzzle-solving expertise to recruit additional members of the team was a cute device, but this never happened
  • The Bomba made at Bletchley Park was not constructed by Turing by himself using wires and parts he had ordered, but was constructed by British manufacturers who supplied the parts that were assembled by a technical genius who was part of the team, Gordon Welchman, not by Turing
  • The invention of the “eureka” moment in the bar when the insight comes to Turing that if he paid attention just to a repeated syllable instead of the whole message, the breakthrough in decrypting messages would come almost as fast as that eureka moment; in truth, there was no such eureka moment since this was known from the start
  • There was no deadline or extension of deadlines by the bosses at Bletchley Park in reality, but the delay was used to great effect in creating suspense in the movie
  • The film leads one to believe that Turing invented the machine used for cryptography, though Alan Turing in an almost stage whisper in the movie lets the secret out that it was the Poles who originally created the idea of such a machine; Marian Rejewski and a group of his fellow Polish mathematicians had been breaking enigma codes for five or six years before the war even started
  • In reality, early versions of enigma, commercially available, were around since shortly after the first world war
  • The Polish Cipher Bureau led by the mathematician and cryptologist, Marian Rejewski, along with Jerzy Róžycki and Henryk Zygalski, created the first system of decoding enigma machines by using the principle of imitation and re-creating a reverse machine to invert the enigma process
  • The Poles even built the first machine to break codes, “the bomba”, in the year I was born in 1938, so that Turing, however great a pioneer, was not the first on the block and did not claim to be so
  • Denniston was not initially an obstreperous and condescending commander for he was the head of the British military unit that first received the Poles when they handed over their “bomba” to the British when the war began
  • After the war started, the real difficulty in decoding began with the most recent version of the enigma machines, ironically used first by the German admiralty which was actually the centre of opposition to Hitler. Their use of an enigma machine was programmed to change codes every twenty-four hours, a fact certainly stressed in the movie, but without explaining how it worked or its importance, and simply stressing that the decoders would require a machine even more than before to do the decoding. In the film, the team only gradually comes to that realization in the second year of working together; the new innovation allowed the machine on its own through repeated changes in the electrical path via a scrambler to create a variable alphabetic substitution cipher so that each key depression actually changed the electrical pathway of a message
  • The working of the machine was never explained in the movie, perhaps because such an explanation might detract from the parable, but may also have been left out to keep the audience entranced and puzzled by the plugboard, entry wheel, rotors, reflector as well as electrical contraction pins and electrical contacts that together made up the alphabet; when the rotors stepped by one twenty-sixth each time, changing the substitution alphabet at each turn, as you add rotors or increase notches, the probability of deciphering declines enormously
  • The movie refers to the 150 million millionth chance of decoding; in fact, Enigma has 158,962,555,217,826,360,000 (almost 159 quintillion) different settings
  • The creation of “Ultra,” the decoding system, as well as the entire system of spies and counter-spies, theft of code tables and other machines, German procedural flaws and failure to use random start positions by German operators, and operator errors alluded to were critical, but none as ludicrous and incredulous as the simplistic one used in the movie
  • Alan Turing did not surreptitiously on his own get his secret service handler to deliver a personal letter to Churchill pleading for the money to build the machine, but was brought on board specifically for that purpose with funding already in place, the effort initially supported by Commander Denniston
  • When Denniston had become too obstreperous, the letter sent to Churchill in 1941 was co-signed by all the senior code-breakers on the team, including Gordon Welchman, Stuart Milner-Barry and Hugh Alexander
  • The issue was neither the idea of the machine nor the funds to build it, but a critical shortage of staff and more funding for additional parts
  • As a response to that shortage, Cairncross, the Soviet spy, became part of the team only in 1942
  • The idea that the decoding team was charged with or even had the capability of working out the plans and strategies of a U-boat attack on a convoy was simply balderdash
  • Neither Turing nor his team worked out how to use the information strategically to both hide their discovery and maximize its effectiveness
  • The scene of the team burning their papers at the end of the war and ordered to do so by the secret service makes a great orgiastic colourful ending to the process, but such an action was both illegal and took credulity over Niagara Falls
  • The structure of the film using a detective who suspected Turing was a Soviet spy and inadvertently discovered he was a closet gay after his arrest in 1952 and then becomes the cipher to whom Turing told his whole tale is both unbelievable and pure nonsense, but as a parable, it works

I loved the movie as a superb parable, well told and brilliantly acted, but it was far off the mark in imitating and representing history.