A contrary view to 'Antidotes to the Imitation Game'

For five years, Barry Cooper has run the Alan Turing Year (ATY) mailing list, tracking worldwide activity related to the Turing Centennial and after. If you want a contrast to the view given by Antidotes to The Imitation Game, see Barry's most recent ATY post.

While I agree that fiction can sometimes can closer to truth than nonfiction, I disagree with Barry's claim that the 'higher-order' interpretation of the film accurately captures the arc of Turing's life. I suspect the real Turing differs hugely from the film's version, despite the effort and skill Tyldum, Cumberbatch, and others invested in the film.

Many computing scientists are disappointed by the divergence from history in The Imitation Game, while others think that if it does well at the Academy Awards that the popularisation of Turing will be good for our profession. There is something to be said for both points.

Hollywood's attempts at biography seems to inevitably involve gross oversimplification or distortion. Is this really necessary for a film to succeed? Does anyone have favourite examples of films that did not grossly distort their subject matter?


I think Apollo 13 is my favorite example of a "based on a true story" film that was barely modified at all. A few scenes were dramatized, where they had engineers hacking together solutions on the spot that in reality had been hacked together a few weeks earlier during a simulation. But I don't think that type of change really distorts the history at all, and it does make for a more exciting movie.
Thanks, Jeff.

My favourite scene in Apollo 13 is where the engineers have a pile of stuff dumped on their desk and told 'This is what is on the craft. Figure out how to use it to build '. The final solution involved using the cover of an instruction manual as part of the device, a nice use of lateral thinking.

Did that actually happen? Where is it documented?

Yours, -- P
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