Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Alan Turing Set to Challenge Lego for Boxoffice Fame

[Update 2-11-2014  My correspondents in Berlin tell me that Harvey and Bob Weinstein are on the very top level of the Hilton .... whereas my correspondents are forced to endure on the lower levels.   More news as we have it from Berlin]

Turing.   A man whose work seems to be ripped from the pages of today's newspapers Internet news sites.   Is there a more glamourous name in all of Mathematics?   Secret counter spy, a life filled with illicit sex, known eccentric, colorful suicide, cut off before his time, whose work famously set the stage for the second half of the 20th century and beyond. 

Now Hollywood has discovered Alan Turing.

Serendipitously coming across an important Internet-based Hollywood journal,  Deadline Hollywood, it is jam-packed with important and exciting news from the glamourous and rewarding entertainment industry. I realized as I read this drivel that I was falling deeper and deeper under its spell with important news about at least two different 3D animated films I knew nothing about, not to mention the new "Dreamworks Press" which is to market in print the "Dreamworks Classics".   
Classics? Already? How old does it have to be to be a classic?  Does 10 years old make something a classic?  Are there standards for such things?

But the most exciting news was the "heat" generated at the Berlin film festival, the Berlinale, by none other than Alan Turing and his film The Imitation Game (2014).  Although famously dead, his legacy lives on.   The Weinstein Company, the Deadline breathlessly tells us, bought the rights to this film for 7 million ($US) based on a 15 minute compilation reel of scenes from the film. In other words, the film itself is not finished, so the filmmakers put together a 15 minute "show reel" and used it to sell the Weinstein's for all they were worth.   Thats Hollywood. Thats the kind of crazy stuff that makes Hollywood so entertaining.  (1) 

None other than Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing.

A great picture of Cumberbach as Turing with his computer

The real Alan Turing 

To recap, Alan Turing was the mathematician famous for his work at Bletchley Park during WWII doing what the British have always done: reading other people's secret communications.   In so doing he also casually invented computer science (with a few other people) and threw challenges down to other fields which continue to this day (see "The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis",  link below).  A long-distance runner, he was also famously homosexual (or bisexual) who committed suicide young rather than submit to a barbaric medical regime by court order to "cure" his homosexuality.  His chosen method of killing himself was by painting an apple with arsenic and taking a bite from it.  

Just the average life of the Cambridge mathematician.

It was an amazing tragedy and Great Britain has formally apologized for their scandalous behavior with a pardon from the Queen and a formal apology from the Prime Minister.  Better late than never, I suppose.  (A BBC article on the pardon is here)

With A Beautiful Mind (2001), Pi (1998) and now this, The Imitation Game (2014), we have three movies based on the exciting and tragic lives of mathematicians, admittedly one of them fictional. Does this bode a whole slew of films about tragic and exciting mathematicians? Are there enough tragic and exciting mathematicians around to supply this new craze?

The Competition looks worried.

"Will Alan Turing be able to compete against movies about Lego?", the Deadline site breathlessly asks.  This and other vital questions will be answered in our lifetime, it is hoped.  I am putting my money behind Turing and holding my breath.


"The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis" can be found at the following URL:


See the article here in Deadline Hollywood here: 

The Imitation Game (2014) on IMDB


A Beautiful Mind (2001) on IMDB


Pi (1998) on IMDB


The Berlinale Web Site


1. Of course 7 million dollars seems a little low in the context of a Facebook valued at over 100 billion.  

No comments:

Post a Comment