Morten Tyldum Q&A: ‘The Imitation Game’
“It’s impossible to not be fascinated and intrigued when you hear the story of Alan Turing, and also outraged,” declares Morten Tyldum during our interview (listen below) about the subject of "The Imitation Game," which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director.
The film is up for eight Academy Awards in all, including Best Picture plus a bid for recent Emmy champ Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock: His Last Vow") as the man who helped to defeat the Germans during World War II by cracking a critical Nazi code. He created the first computer in the process, but those achievements were overshadowed by his persecution by the British government for being gay.
"I always loved history," says the Norwegian-born director. "I always thought I knew history really well, and I was shocked there was so much I didn’t know about this. I started to research more. It’s such a fascinating and important story. It’s almost like Albert Einstein was an unknown mathematician that very few people knew about. Alan Turing was one of the big geniuses, one of the most important individuals of the last century, and he’s sort of been pushed into the shadows of history."
For Tyldum, Graham Moore captured the essence of Turing in his Oscar-nominated script. "It’s an interesting story about this outsider, this man who didn’t fit in, who viewed the world slightly different. Because of that, he was able to come up with all these extraordinary thoughts and ideas and theories. This is a man who, in many ways, is not the easiest man to like, but still there’s something deeply fascinating about him. I think there’s something very relatable to this character, how determined he is in how he’s trying to get these ideas through, and how he’s trying to fit in. He’s trying to find his place.”
"There’s a very touching love story," he adds, referring to a brief yet significant scene that explores Turing’s boarding school romance with his best friend. "In many ways, I think it's mind-blowing that it is this unfulfilled love story about his meeting with Christopher, and how Christopher in many ways saved him and how that shaped his life."
The film delivers a powerful message against intolerance, as witnessed in the final moments when Turing’s life is destroyed by the homophobia of the very country he helped to save. “Prejudice – the fear of anyone who’s different – is one of our biggest problems," explains Tyldum. “Be it their race, sexuality, political views, religion, anything. So that’s why this movie, at its core, wants to celebrate differences and how important that is. Alan Turing was not burdened down by normal views of the world. He was able to soar free and look at the world from a different angle. Because of that, he can come up with these revolutionary ideas and thoughts.”