The Imitation Game

2014 film by Morten Tyldum

The Imitation Game is a 2014 film, set during World War II, in which mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Of course machines can't think as people do. A machine is different from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something thinks differently from you, does that mean it's not thinking?
Think of it. A digital computer. Electrical brain.
Directed by Morten Tyldum. Written by Graham Moore, based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.
Behind every code is an enigma.

Alan Turing

  • Are you paying attention? Good. If you are not listening carefully, you will miss things. Important things. I will not pause, I will not repeat myself, and you will not interrupt me. You think that because you're sitting where you are, and I am sitting where I am, that you are in control of what is about to happen. You're mistaken. I am in control, because I know things that you do not know. [pause] What I will need from you now is a commitment. You will listen closely, and you will not judge me until I am finished. If you cannot commit to this, then please leave the room. But if you choose to stay, remember you chose to be here. What happens from this moment forward is not my responsibility. It's yours. Pay attention.
  • Some people thought we were at war with the Germans— incorrect. We were at war with the clock. Britain was literally starving to death. The Americans sent over 100,000 pounds of food each week, and every week the Germans would send our desperately needed bread to the bottom of the ocean. Our daily failure was announced at the chimes of midnight. And the sound would haunt our unwelcome dreams.
  • Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying. But remove the satisfaction, and the act becomes... hollow.
  • When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean. They say something else and you're expected to just know what they mean.
  • Was I God? No. Because God didn't win the war. We did.
  • Think of it. A digital computer. Electrical brain.
  • Of course machines can't think as people do. A machine is different from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something thinks differently from you, does that mean it's not thinking?
  • Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.

Joan Clarke

  • No one normal could have done that. Do you know, this morning... I was on a train that went through a city that wouldn't exist if it wasn't for you. I bought a ticket from a man who would likely be dead if it wasn't for you. I read up on my work... a whole field of scientific inquiry that only exists because of you. Now, if you wish you could have been normal... I can promise you I do not. The world is an infinitely better place precisely because you weren't.
  • I know it's not ordinary. But who ever loved ordinary?


  • Christopher Morcom: "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine"
  • Stewart Menzies: Oh, Alan... we're gonna have such a wonderful war together.
  • End titles: His machine was never perfected, though it generated a whole field of research into what became known as "Turing Machines". Today we call them "computers" (Above quote corrected): Historians estimate that breaking enigma shortened the war by more than two years saving over 14 million lives. It remained a government-held secret for more than 50 years. Turing's work inspired generations of research into what scientists called "TURING MACHINES," Today we call them computers.


Alan Turing: I like solving problems, Commander. And Enigma is the most difficult problem in the world.
Commander Denniston: Enigma isn't difficult, it's impossible. The Americans, the Russians, the French, the Germans, everyone thinks Enigma is unbreakable.
Alan Turing: Good. Let me try and we'll know for sure, won't we?

Alan Turing: They only beat me up because I'm smarter than they are.
Christopher Morcom: No, they beat you up because you're different.

John Cairncross: The boys, we're going to get some lunch.
[no response]
John Cairncross: Alan?
Alan Turing: Yes?
John Cairncross: I said we're going to get some lunch.
[no response]
John Cairncross: Alan?
Alan Turing: Yes?
John Cairncross: Can you hear me?
Alan Turing: Yes.
John Cairncross: I said we're off to get some lu- [pause] This is starting to get a little bit repetitive.
Alan Turing: What is?
John Cairncross: I had asked if you wanted to come have lunch with us.
Alan Turing: Uhm, no you didn't, you said you were going to get some lunch.
John Cairncross: Have I offended you in some way?
Alan Turing: Why would you think that?
John Cairncross: Would you like to come to lunch with us?
Alan Turing: What time's lunch time?
Hugh Alexander: [frustrated] Christ Alan, it's a bleeding sandwich.
Alan Turing: What is?
Hugh Alexander: Lunch.
Alan Turing: Oh, I don't like sandwiches.
John Cairncross: Never mind.

Stewart Menzies: [candidates are taking a timed test] Six minutes... is that even possible?
Alan Turing: No, it takes me eight.
[Joan Clarke raises her hand]
Alan Turing: You're finished?... Five minutes forty-eight seconds.
Joan Clarke: You said to finish under six minutes.

John Cairncross: What's wrong?
Alan Turing: What if... what if I don't fancy being with Joan in that way?
John Cairncross: Because you're a homosexual? I suspected.
Alan Turing: Sh-should I tell her that I've had affairs with men?
John Cairncross: You know, in my admittedly limited experience, women tend to be a bit touchy about accidentally marrying homosexuals. Perhaps not spreading this information about might be in your best interest.
Alan Turing: I care for her, I truly do, but... I-I just don't know if I can pretend...
John Cairncross: You can't tell anyone, Alan. It's illegal. And Denniston is looking for any excuse he can to put you away.
Alan Turing: I know.
John Cairncross: This has to stay a secret.

Hugh Alexander: If you run the wires across the plugboard matrix diagonally, you'll eliminate rotor positions 500 times faster.
Alan Turing: This is actually not an entirely terrible idea.
Joan Clarke: That's Alan for "thank you."

[Alan, Hugh, Joan and Joan's friend, Helen, are having a conversation about workplace romance]
Hugh Alexander: So who do you agree with? Alan or myself?
Helen: Well, Alan, of course.
Alan Turing: [stammering] I'm very flattered really, but I... I don't think that... [Joan kicks him under the table]
Hugh Alexander: Rubbish.
Helen: Well, I work beside a man every day, and I can't help but have developed a bit of a crush on him.
Hugh Alexander: Well, who is this man? So I can kick his arse.
Helen: Oh, there's no need to worry, it's been chaste. We've never even met. He's a German.
Hugh Alexander: Now I really want to kill him.
[Helen chuckles]
Alan Turing: Er... How... How do you mean you work alongside a German?
Helen: Well, each of us intercepts messages from a specific German radio tower. So we have a counterpart on the other side, who's tip-tapping out the messages. Everyone types a touch differently, so you get to know the rhythm of your counterpart. It's strangely intimate. I feel as if I know him so well. It's a pity he has a girlfriend, but that's why I disagree with you, Mr. Alexander, because I'm in love with a coworker of sorts and we've never even met.
Hugh Alexander: Well, allow me to buy you another pint and I'll tell you why you're wrong.
Helen: Let's.
Hugh Alexander: Excellent.
[They get up and head to the bar. As they order, Alan sits completely silently, in a daze - having come to a realisation]
Joan Clarke: In case you were wondering, that's what flirting looks like.
Alan Turing: [loudly] HELEN!!
Joan Clarke: [slightly embarrassed, as his shout has drawn attention to them] Alan!
Helen: Yes, Alan?
Alan Turing: [gets up and faces her] Why do you think your German counterpart has a girlfriend?
Helen: It's just a stupid joke. Don't worry about it.
Alan Turing: No, no, no, no, no, tell me.
Helen: Well, each of his messages begins with the same five letters. C-I-L-L-Y. So I suspect that Cilly must be the name of his amore.
[By this point, Joan, Peter Hilton and John Cairncross have begun to catch on]
Alan Turing: But that's impossible. The Germans are instructed to use five random letters at the start of every message.
Helen: Well, this bloke doesn't.
Hugh Alexander: Love will make a man do strange things, I suppose.
Alan Turing: In this case.... Love just lost Germany the whole bloody war!
[He rushes off, barging into Hugh and causing him to spill the pints he has just bought on Helen. John, Peter and Joan rush off after him and Hugh, realising what has happened, apologises and dashes off after them]

Hugh Alexander: My God, you did it. You just defeated Nazism with a crossword puzzle.
John Cairncross: There are five people in the world who know the position of every ship in the Atlantic. They are all in this room.
Joan Clarke: Oh, good God.
Hugh Alexander: Oh, I don't think even He has the power that we do right now.
Joan Clarke: [getting closer to map] No. There's going to be an attack on a British passenger convoy. Right there.
John Cairncross: God, you're right. Those U-boats are only twenty, thirty minutes away.
Joan Clark: Civilians. Hundreds of them. We can save their lives.
John Cairncross: And knock out a whole German fleet in the process.
Hugh Alexander: I'll phone Denniston's office so that he can alert the Admiralty.
Alan Turing: No.
Joan Clarke: Do you think there's enough time to save them?
John Cairncross: There should be. If we can get a message to that convoy—
Hugh Alexander: [into phone] Commander Denniston's office please, it's urgent—
Alan Turing: No, no! [grabs and hangs up phone]
Hugh Alexander: What the hell are you doing?
Alan Turing: You-you can't call Denniston. You-you can't tell him about the attack.
Hugh Alexander: What are you talking about?
John Cairncross: We can have air support over that convoy in ten minutes.
Alan Turing: Let the U-boats sink the convoy.
John Cairncross: Look, it's been a big day, maybe you're suffering from—
Alan Turing: Oh, shut up—
Hugh Alexander: [tries to grab phone back] We don't have time—
Alan Turing: No!
[Alan smashes the phone on the ground. Hugh punches him in the face, knocking him down]
Joan Clarke: Oh, Hugh! Hugh! Stop! That's enough!
John Cairncross: Stop, Hugh!
Peter Hilton: John, the attack is in minutes.
Joan Clarke: [rushes to Alan's side] Are you all right?
Alan Turing: Yes, no, I'm fine, I'm fine. I'm fine. [to Hugh] Do you know why people like violence, Hugh? It's because it feels good. Sometimes we can't do what feels good. We have to do what is logical.
John Cairncross: What's logical?
Alan Turing: The hardest time to lie is when the other person is expecting to be lied to.
Joan Clarke: [getting it] Oh, God.
John Cairncross: What?
Alan Turing: If someone's waiting for a lie, you can't just, uh, give them one.
Joan Clarke: Damn it, Alan's right.
Peter Hilton: What?
Alan Turing: What would the Germans think if we destroy their U-boats?
Peter Hilton: Nothing. They'll be dead.
John Cairncross: No. No, you can't be right.
Alan Turing: So our convoy suddenly veers off course... a squadron of our air bombers miraculously descends on the coordinates of the U-boats... what will the Germans think?
Hugh Alexander: The Germans will know that we have broken Enigma.
Joan Clarke: They'll stop all radio communications by midday, and they'll have changed the design of Enigma by the weekend.
Hugh Alexander: Yes.
Alan Turing: Two years' work. Everything we've done here will all be for nothing.
John Cairncross: There are 500 people in that convoy. Women. Children. We're about to let them die.
Alan Turing: Our job isn't to save one passenger convoy, it is to win the war.
Hugh Alexander: Our job was to crack Enigma.
Alan Turing: Oh, we've done that. Now for the hard part. Keeping it a secret.
Peter Hilton: Carlisle.
Joan Clarke: What?
Peter Hilton: [points to the map] The convoy you're about to... it's, uh... The HMS Carlisle is one of the ships. We can't act on every piece of intelligence? So fine, we won't. Just this one.
Joan Clarke: Peter, what's the matter with you?
Peter: My brother's... well, he's on the Carlisle. A gunnery ensign.
Alan Turing: I'm... I'm so sorry.
Peter Hilton: Who the hell do you think you are? This is my brother. He's my big brother, alright, and you have a few minutes to call off his murder.
Alan Turing: We can't.
John Cairncross: He's right.
Peter Hilton: Alan. Joan. Hugh. John. Please, I... the Germans, they won't get suspicious just because we stopped one attack. No one will know. I'm asking you. As your friend. Please.
Alan Turing: I'm so sorry.
Peter Hilton: You're not God, Alan. You don't get to decide who lives and who dies.
Alan Turing: Yes, we do.
Peter Hilton: Why?
Alan Turing: Because no one else can.

[Alan and Joan meet with Menzies to tell him about keeping the decrypted Enigma intercepts secret]
Stewart Menzies: Why are you telling me this?
Alan Turing: We need your help, to keep this a secret from Admiralty, Army, RAF, no one can know that we've broken Enigma, not even Dennison.
Stewart Menzies: Who's in the process of having you fired.
Joan Clarke: You can take care of that.
Alan Turing: While we develop a system to help you determine how much intelligence to act on. Which, uh, attacks to stop, which to let through. Statistical analysis: the minimum number of actions it will take for us to win the war, but the maximum number we can take before the Germans get suspicious.
Stewart Menzies: And you're going to trust of this all to statistics, to maths?
Alan Turing: Correct.
Joan Clarke: And then MI6 can come up with the lies we will tell everyone else.
Alan Turing: You'll need a believable alternative source for all the pieces of information that you use.
Joan Clarke: A false story, so that we can explain how we got our information, that has nothing to do with Enigma, and then you can leak those stories to the Germans.
Alan Turing: And then to our own military.
Stewart Menzies: Maintain a conspiracy of lies at the very highest levels of government. [Lights a cigarette] ...Sounds right up my alley.

Alan Turing: I have something to tell you... [long pause] I'm a homosexual...
Joan Clarke: [not surprised] Alright.
Alan Turing: No no, men Joan! Not women!
Joan Clarke: So what? I had my suspicions. I always did. But we're not like other people. We love each other in our own way, and we can have the life together that we want. You won't be the perfect husband? I can promise you I harbored no intention of being the perfect wife. I'll not be fixing your lamb all day, while you come home from the office, will I? I'll work. You'll work. And we'll have each other's company. We'll have each other's minds. Sounds like a better marriage than most. Because I care for you. And you care for me. And we understand one another more than anyone else ever has.
Alan Turing: ...I don't.
Joan Clarke: What?
Alan Turing: Care for you. I never did. I just needed you to break Enigma. I've done that now, so you can go.
Joan Clarke: [slaps him] I am not going anywhere. I have spent entirely too much of my life worried about what you think of me, or what my parents think of me, or what the boys in Hut 8 or the girls in Hut 3 think, and you know I am done. This work is the most important thing I will ever do. And no one will stop me. Least of all you. [pause] You know what? They were right. Peter. Hugh. John. You really are a monster.

Alan Turing: [explaining the Turing Test] "The Imitation Game."
Detective Nock: Right, that's... that's what it's about?
Alan Turing: Would you like to play?
Detective Nock: Play?
Alan Turing: It's a game. A test of sorts. For determining whether something is a... a machine or a human being.
Detective Nock: How do I play?
Alan Turing: Well, there's a judge and a subject, and... the judge asks questions and, depending on the subject's answers, determines who he is talking with... what he is talking with, and, um... All you have to do is ask me a question.




  • Behind every code is an enigma.
  • A top-secret life.
  • You do not know this man. Yet he has changed our lives.
  • Unlock the secret. Win the war.
  • The true enigma was the man who cracked the code.
  • Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.
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