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Turing biopic with Cumberbatch, Knightley to premiere at London Film Festival

The Imitation Game covers life of gay war hero super-boffin

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Vid Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the legendary codebreaker and computer boffin, will open the prestigious London Film Festival in early October.

Official Imitation Game trailer on YouTube.

The British Film Institute announced that The Imitation Game, a dramatisation of Turing’s life, will have its European premiere on the opening night of the festival on 8 October in London’s Leicester Square. Cumberbatch and actress Keira Knightley, who plays cryptanalyst Joan Clarke, are expected to attend the event.

The film will cover Turing’s time at Blighty’s nowadays famous top-secret WWII codebreaking base at Bletchley Park, during which he and his team worked on the revolutionary Bombe machine that broke the Germans’ Enigma code and made a major contribution to the Allied war effort. It will also detail his prosecution for gross indecency in 1952 for his then-illegal homosexual relationships and his subsequent death in 1954. A Royal Pardon was granted to Turing for his conviction last year.

Although the movie is billed as a dramatic portrayal, there has been some concern about its accuracy. Turing's niece Inagh Payne questioned the casting of Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Turing’s friend at Bletchley and a woman he was briefly engaged to.

"Joan Clarke was rather plain," Payne told the Daily Mail in November. "But she was very nice, bright and a good friend to Alan ... When he told her about how he was, she accepted it, didn't make a scene or anything like that."

"I think they might be trying to romanticise [his story]. It makes me a bit mad. You want the film to show it as it was, not a lot of nonsense."

It may also be difficult to put forward an accurate portrayal of his death from cyanide poisoning, as there is some controversy around its cause. Although ruled a suicide by an inquest at the time, some members of his own family and others have suggested that his death may have been an accident.

The film is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges and directed by Morten Tyldum. It has a number of accolades under its belt already. The screenplay was top of the annual Black List of best unproduced Hollywood scripts in 2011 and its US distribution rights were sold to The Weinstein Company for a reportedly record $7m earlier this year. ®

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