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Artistic License History / The Imitation Game

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The film has been noted to contain quite a few deviations from the real events and persons for the sake of drama:

  • The "Bombe" machine wasn't christened "Christopher" by Turing.
  • The history of wartime code breaking at Bletchley Park is extensively simplified. The story largely ends after the Enigma code is broken. The work to break the Nazi command's Lorenz cypher and creation of the Colossus computer—inspired by Turing's work, but built by an Post Office engineer called Tommy Flowers, is only briefly alluded to near the end.
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  • Turing did not build the machine all by himself as implied in the film, working apart from the rest of the team. He designed it, but it was redesigned and built by the British Tabulating Machine Company, the project headed by engineer Harold Keen.
  • Turing probably never met John Cairncross, the Soviet agent (who was a real person). And even if they met, it's highly unlikely they discovered each other's secrets.
  • Turing knew that his school friend Christopher was ill and didn't find out first from his headmaster.
  • In the film Turing writes a letter to Winston Churchill on his own, asking for funding for Christopher, after Denniston snarks that he should talk to his boss. He gets the funding and veto power over the project, promptly firing two people and pissing off every single person in the room. "Popular in school, were you?" cracks Menzies. In reality, it was a different request and a lot more people were in on it, including Hugh.
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  • Hugh was married.
  • Hugh and Turing were fast friends and highly respectful of each other, with Hugh Alexander working as a kind of buffert between the political and bureaucratic side and the hyper-focused Turing. In short, their relationship at the end of the film was in reality there from the very beginning.
  • In reality, Commander Denniston fully supported the cryptographers under his command and regarded Turing as one of the best.
  • None of the Hut 8 cryptographers ever made decisions about how to use the intelligence from Enigma—that was done at higher levels of the government.
  • The medication Turing was forced to take, while completely horrific, didn't make his hands shake or make him unable to think. He was writing on the changes in his own body (and making new discoveries in mathematical biology, because that's Alan Turing for you) and in good spirits, which is why some people contested the suicide charge.
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  • In the film Turing proposes to Joan while keeping his sexuality a secret, only confessing as an attempt to push her away months later. Acording to Joan Clarke he proposed, she said yes and he then immediately confessed to being a homosexual, "something that caused [her] some concern since she was pretty sure that that was not something that would go away." He then later broke up with her, not because of a noble wish to keep her out of Menzie's clutches, but because he simply realized that the whole "staying celibate and having a loving sex-less marriage" was not going to work, and it would be unfair to demand that from Joan while he would be having guys on the side.
  • Turing's eccentricity is exaggerated to the point of borderline Hollywood Autism. In reality, he got along well with his co-workers and did indeed know what a joke was. In fact, people who knew him frequently described him as both quite witty and charming.
  • The film hints that the group split apart, never to see each other again after the war. This is not quite true. For example, Hugh Alexander testified on Alan's behalf as a character witness at his trial.
  • Turing tells Denniston he doesn't know German. In reality he had studied German and had traveled to Germany before the war.
  • There's no evidence that Turing was finicky about separating his peas and carrots.


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