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Benedict Cumberbatch: I am a very lucky man

Over the last couple of years Benedict Cumberbatch gained lots of fans, especially women. Whether or not his wife is jealous of them,  the British actor, who in the last two years alone appeared in five films, reveals in this interview.  Additionally he  takes over the role as Sherlock Holmes on telly on a regular basis. The last episode of the fourth series aired on Sunday, 11th June on German broadcaster ARD.

Question: Besides your job you and your wife Sophie have to care for your two year old son Christopher and your new born son Hal. Isn’t this situation a bit too stressful?
Benedict Cumberbatch: It’s not stressful, it’s a blessing. It’s unbelievable that I’m offered roles at all. And that I am able to choose which one I want to take, that they are so different from one another and that people seem to like those films – this is something you simply can’t expect at all.

Have you ever imagined that the series would be such a huge success? What makes your version of Sherlock Holmes so popular?
I had not the faintest idea. Maybe it’s good we don’t do more episodes. Fans are more keen on what will happen and we do always look fresh and relaxed (laughs). Seriously, I do think that all figures in the series have their very special weaknesses or failures. The audience can accept them more easily.

The finale of series four is about to air (in Germany when this interview was first published). What was the best thing that happend on set?
Definitely Toby, the bloodhound of the first (it says „last“ in the German version) episode. That damn dog wouldn’t move while filming because it turned out he hates asphalt and humans. He was trained in the countryside. It was a real comedy getting him to move.

As Holmes you almost have a romantic relationship with your coat (it says ‚cloak‘ in the German version but you know about cloaks). Is there any private …?
… clothing I have an romantic  relationship? (laughs) Would be cool if I said I have a favourite blanket I’m carrying around since childhood, wouldn’t it? But there is nothing at all. My clothes are very boring, mostly one colour and I prefer silver, grey and blue.

Fans don’t think you are boring. You achieved cult status.
It’s something I never longed for. But it’s part of the job of being an actor.  Biggest problems I have with the pun some of my very intelligent, witty and creative female fans are playing with my name.

You’re hinting at the name „Cumberbitches“ they gave themselves?
Yes, it’s a bit of self humiliating. I have made it quite clear that I would be more happy with a slightly different version of that name. But in the end everyone is free to decide which name to choose for oneself.

What about your wife? Isn’t she jealous of all the female fans?
Sophie loves me and is proud of my work. That’s all that matters. We are made for each other and fit together perfectly. That’s why she has no problems with all the stuff that’s going on. She’s a very strong and confident woman. I am a very lucky man.

How are you dealing with all the fame?
I ignore it and am trying to enjoy all the wonderful moments I can live through as an actor. It’s very easy to be dragged away by all the fuzz that’s made up around your person. That’s why it’s so important for me to have family and friends I know for a very long time. They keep me grounded.

You seem to be very self-confident.
Problem is self-confidence often is taken for arrogance. I’m a man with some short-comings.

That is?
Well, I do like tech gadgets but I’m not really good with them. I’m just an ordinary user who gets screwed up if something doesn’t work.

Do you always have your phone at hand?
Only for my job. Because I would loose out on all my appointments. When I’m at home, I don’t want to know anything of this.

What are you up to when you are at home?
First I’m changing into something very comfy. There’s nothing more wonderful than watching a great film crawled up on the sofa in front of your fireplace. But more often I’m reading a book. That calms me down.

Are you into sports?
Not in any studio. I like hiking in nature or walking through a park to clear my brain. Music helps me.

What is your favourite music?
Everything. Most of all I like songs getting me to think because they cover everything that goes wrong in this world. Just like Radiohead’s „Burn the Witch“. That songs touches my soul.

What should we do to make the world a better place?
It’s up to everyone to decide if or if not to make a difference. I’m working with an organisation called „Liberty“ backing human rights in the UK. We’re trying to support people who are discriminated because of their origin, colour or religion.

You’re 40 now. Do you look back to your 20s nostalgically?
Not at all. The older I get, the happier I get with my life. I love my wonderful life, now more than ever, together with my family and the fantastic people surrounding me. I’m very much looking forward forward to what may lie ahead.

 

The German version of this interview was originally published online here.  My translation is published with the friendly permission of the author.

Sherlock: Die sechs Thatchers

Das neue Jahr brachte eine neue Sherlock-Staffel – jedenfalls auf BBC One und zumindest dann, wenn man es auf welche Art auch immer schaffte, die erste Ausstrahlung zu besten britischen Sendezeit zu verfolgen. Wer also weise vorausschauend den Silvesterabend nicht allzu ausufernd verbrachte oder entsprechend lange ausschlief, der begegnete ab 20.30 Uhr britischer Zeit  in der ersten Folge der vierten Staffel „Die sechs Thatchers“ (Buch: Mark Gatiss) den geliebten Figuren genau dort wieder, wo er sie am Ende der dritten Staffel – in der Folge „Sein letzter Schwur“ –  verlassen hat: Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) versucht, seine Sucht in den Griff zu bekommen, John (Martin Freeman) und Mary (Amanda Abbington) werden bald Eltern und Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) ist genauso clever, süffisant und perfekt gekleidet wie eh und je. Aber natürlich gibt es die Weihnachtsfolge „Die Braut des Grauens“,  (Erstausstrahlung in der BBC am 2. Januar 2016)  die entgegen den Aussagen der beiden „Sherlock“-Erfinder Steven Moffat und Mark Gatiss eben keine Folge ist, die völlig losgelöst vom Entwicklungsstrang der übrigen Folgen und natürlich den vorherigen Serien zu sehen ist.

Trotz allem: ein Mensch

„Die sechs Thatchers“  (deutsche Erstausstrahlung ARD, 4. Juni 2017) bringt eine völlig neue Wendung innerhalb der Serie als Ganzes und für die Figur Sherlock im Besonderen. Und so verfolgt der Zuschauer wie der einzige beratende Detektiv mit ungewohnten Situation und neuen Menschen, darunter einem Baby, zurechtkommen muss. Das geschieht in schnellen Rückblicken, die ein Fest für Fans sind, für Neulinge allerdings reinste Verwirrung. Natürlich verändern neue Bezugspersonen und neue Situationen Sherlock, es muss ihn verändern. Auch wenn er bisher alles getan hat, uns vom Gegenteil zu überzeugen, ist er doch letztlich ein Mensch und wie sich im Verlauf der Handlung herausstellt, einer mit sehr viel Mitgefühl. Freilich heißt das nicht, dass er nun plötzlich kein hochfunktionaler Soziopath mehr ist, der im Zweifel alle und alles überwacht und jede Telefonnummer gespeichert hat. Er ist genauso ungehobelt und unhöflich, hochintelligent und ein Schnelldenker wie immer. Und er ist ungefähr so aktiv  wie James Bond und mindestens genauso attraktiv.

Nicht zuletzt hat sich auch John Watson (wie immer perfekt: Martin Freeman) verändert – so wie es ihm Mrs Hudson (witzig und liebenswert: Una Stubbs) vorhergesagt hat: „Heirat verändert einen“, (meine Übersetzung) sagte sie in „Das Zeichen der Drei“ zu Sherlock und natürlich hat sie recht. Mary (souverän: Amanda Abbington) und John müssen sich um ihre kleine Tochter kümmern, wollen aber gleichzeitig auch mit Sherlock Kriminalfälle lösen. Zu den zweien, die gegen den Rest der Welt kämpfen, hat sich nun Mary gesellt. Und sie passt wunderbar in Sherlocks Welt, in der es vor allem um Intelligenz, schnelles Denken und Schlussfolgerungen geht. Kenner wissen aber natürlich, was mit  Marys  in den ursprünglichen Sherlock-Holmes-Geschichten des Erfinders Arthur Conan Doyle passiert.

Fazit: „Die sechs Thatchers“ haben alles, was man sich wünschen kann: Witz, Dramatik und Kulissen (Ausstattung: Arwel Wyn Jones), die so detailreich sind, dass man auch nach mehrmaligem Anschauen immer noch etwas neues entdeckt. Benedict Cumberbatch ist Sherlock. Er passt so perfekt in diese Rolle wie er in den berühmten Mantel (und die immer etwas zu eng sitzenden Anzüge) passt. Jeder seiner Szenen ist eine schauspielerische Glanzleistung. Martin Freemans John Watson und Amanda Abbingtons Mary sind viel mehr als Nebenrollen und Ergänzungen der Titelfigur. Beide entwickeln einzelne Stränge der Handlung weiter, die dann in den späteren Folgen vollendet werden.

Wie bei allen Staffel vorher ist auch in dieser ersten Folge der vierten Staffel Aufmerksamkeit beim Zuschauer gefragt. Wer nicht aufpasst und sich nur nebenher vom Fernseher berieseln lassen will, wird keine Freude an „Sherlock“ haben – unabhängig davon, welche Folge er anschaut. Denn der Witz der Dialoge und die Wortspiele sind nur scheinbar Geplänkel. Sie sind wichtig, um die Handlung zu verstehen. Wer allerdings erst mal seine Leidenschaft für diese Fernsehserie entdeckt hat, wird so schnell nicht mehr davon loskommen.

 

Dies ist die deutsche Version des ursprünglichen englischen Beitrags, den ich nach der Erstausstrahlung in der BBC geschrieben habe.

Sherlock: The Six Thatchers

The new year brought new Sherlock. And as always  the fans gathered round telly or any internet device to watch the first episode of series 4, „The Six Thatchers“. Written by Mark Gatiss this episode started where we left the beloved figures at the end of „His Last Vow“ (or is it „The Abominable Bride“?):  Sherlock, trying to fight his addiction, John and Mary, the soon-to-be parents, and Mycroft as dapper and clever as ever.  But of course there is the Christmas special „The Abominable Bride“ that first aired last year, and despite the fact that the creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss wanted us fans to believe it is a stand alone film, it isn’t. So aren’t the previous series.

That’s why „The Six Thatchers“ is a totally new twist for the series as a whole and for Sherlock in particular. You see the only consulting detective in familiar scenes in flashbacks (confusing for newbies, a feast for fans) and you see him coping with new situations  and new figures – a baby only being one of them. Of course this changes him, it has to, just because Sherlock is human, no matter what he made anyone believe so far and  a very caring one as this episode unfolds. This doesn’t mean he stops being that high functioning sociopath (with your number). He is as rude and clever as ever. And he is more active in a James Bond-like way.

John Watson has changed, too, as Mrs Hudson predicted on the wedding day: „Marriage changes you“, she told Sherlock, and of course she is right. The couple has to care for their baby daughter while solving crimes together with Sherlock – the two of them against the rest of the world now are  three. And Mary? Well, she is smart and fits perfectly into Sherlock’s world. But you know what’s in the canon.

All in all this episode has anything you could wish for: humour, drama and settings with lots of details that clearly need lots of re watches to deduce all the hidden clues. Benedict Cumberbatch simply is Sherlock, he fits into the belstaff as perfectly as he fits into that iconic role, delivering a brilliant performance in every single second. Martin Freeman’s John Watson as well as Amanda Abbington’s Mary are more than just sidekicks. They are adding new lines to the story that set the path for the still unknown episodes to come. The week till episode 2 feels as long as the hiatus as a whole.

 

 

Benedict Cumberbatch’s outstanding Richard III

Yes, I can hear them. Those critics, those self declared grail holders of every single tradition you can think of in cultural topics. They are about to start their writing software after they had difficulties to survive  „Richard III“, the third part of the second series of „The Hollow Crown“, screened over the last three weekends on BBC Two. After a certain Benedict Cumberbatch got his hands on William Shakespeare’s „Hamlet“ last year in London’s Barbican those purists had to endure beat after beat: People ran wild! Queued for tickets! Young folks watched a play live on stage for the very first time in their lives! How could that happen? And they still watch it whenever a live recording hits a cinema within reach.

And now it is Shakespeare all over again, three of his plays transformed into three 2 hours films, bringing the bloody Wars of the Roses into living rooms where the audience watched how a tyrant was made. A tyrant in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch whose Richard III took over the screen  step by step in „Henry VI, 2“ until he rules it completely in the defining part of „Richard III“. And he does so by luring the audience into his thoughts, his grief and his rage, leaving you wondering if you should be appalled by a cripple who is so terrible deformed or if you should feel sorry for a man who had been an outsider for all his life. The very first scene where Richard has one of his soliloquies speaking directly to the audience reveals not only his violent ambitions. It also shows that he is a vulnerable human being – naked upwards from the waist, a deformed back, a hand he can’t use – desperately trying to find his path where Richard is only true to his only ally, the audience, addressed directly to the camera in his soliloquies.

„I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion, deform’d, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world scarce made up – and that so lamely and unfashionable that dogs bark at me, as I halt by them.“ Richard III, I,1

All these different feelings, the cruelty of a man driven by ambition, hate, haunted by the ghosts of the men he killed are brilliantly performed by Benedict Cumberbatch who always is in control of the audience’s attention, who grabs their hands, takes them on a ride and leaves them crying for a king who died on a muddy battlefield. It seems that Benedict’s performance gets better and better with every new role. He clearly is on the height of his abilities, bringing every emotion you can possibly think of to life within the wink of an eye or the move of a hand. And of course his voice talking Shakespeare’s English –  making it vivid and just beautiful.

So may all of those professional critics analyse every letter, every scene, every move of the camera, may they shout at the BBC for tearing Shakespeare down to the small screen and may they shout at Benedict Cumberbatch for whatever reason they may possible find. One of his faults clearly is bringing a new audience to Shakespeare. If this is a fault, I can find more to blame this man for.

Hollow Crown, Shakespeare and Benedict Cumberbatch

No, I’m not a Shakespeare expert. Far from that. Although I can imagine that reading his works might be the same challenge for native English speakers as it is for me reading Goethe or Schiller, getting the meaning of Shakespearian English is indeed a challenge. And it doesn’t get easier watching a play live on stage or a film version.

Unless you have a production team and a broadcaster that have the courage to  throw two hours of a 400 years old play on their audience, including lots of artificial blood, mud, ancient buildings and a very fine crew of actors to bring William Shakespeare’s War of the Roses to life. The second series of BBC Two’s Hollow Crown has all this. And it has a Benedict Cumberbatch whose Richard (soon to be King in the third episode of this series) goes all the way from an awkward but still nice ish teenager – his first appearance is all cheerful – to a cruel villain ready to climb on England’s throne, killing everyone in his way. We watch a young man who loves and adores his father who considers himself as rightful heir to the throne, a young man who from the very first scene always stands a bit aside, limping with a stiff leg and a hunchback – and is mocked for this and the fact that his birth apparently wasn’t an easy one, leaving him disabled into a world full of warriors.

„This word ‚love‘ (…) be resident in men like one another, and not in me.
I am myself alone.“ Henry VI 3, V,6.

As if this isn’t enough to harm a man, Richard is an eye witness when his younger brother is killed. His shock and fear is the audience’s because it is all written in Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance and we know that this is the final reason that turns Richard into the monstrous villain.

„And am I then a man to be belov’d?
O monstrous fault to harbour such a thought.“ Henry VI 3, III,2

But it is not a villain that is totally disgusting and appalling. Richard is scaring, thrilling, seductive and – surprisingly enough  – funny and you realise you care for a man who admits all he longs for in the end is his brother’s crown no matter how many men he has to kill to reach that aim. But Richard is not only just bad. He’s a man who feels utterly alone since early childhood, a man who knows that he will not find true love because of his deformities.

If it is true that „Richard III“ is one of the most demanding roles for any actor, it’s not for Benedict Cumberbatch. Because he brings every tiny detail of that character to life without any visible effort, leaving his audience speechless in front of the telly (or where ever you have the good fortune to catch this film), realising that you haven’t moved since two hours – except for opening your mouth in disbelief, murmuring „Oh my God“ every once in a while and totally forgotten that you are watching a Shakespeare play normally considered as difficult stuff.  We don’t know if  William Shakespeare thought of a special actor when writing his play. But maybe you need a Benedict Cumberbatch to make a villain sexy.

Alan Turing – the codebreaker

It was a secret world behind the Victorian facade of the house in Bletchley Park some 70 kilometres Northwest of London. At the beginning of the second World War the British government realised that it would be essential to decode the messages of Nazi Germany to win the war. But all messages were encrypted with the help of Enigma machines – codes that everybody believed were unbreakable. At Bletchley Park analytics from all over Britain were gathered, sworn to secrecy and set to shifts 24 hours a day – a work that would be useless at the end of every day when the Germans changed their codes.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a trailer of "The Imitation Game". Screenshot: pb

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a trailer of „The Imitation Game“. Screenshot: pb

 

„The Imitation Game“ which hits German cinemas at January 22nd celebrates and focuses on codebreaker Alan Turing, the unsung hero who helped to win the war for the allies. It is believed today that he shortened the war for about two years and saved millions of lives. Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of the first experts in Bletchley Park. Born in 1912, he has just finished his studies in Cambridge and is „an odd duck“ according to his mother and colleagues. In his job interview right at the beginning of the film he calls himself one of the best mathematicians in the world, a genius who somehow lives in his own world but he discovers that Enigma can only be beaten by another machine. A machine –  the Turing bombe as it is called later –  that would work without interruptions and which he is eager to build against all odds. Only after Alan discovers by chance that some words will appear in every German message he and his colleagues are able to reduce the unbelievable numbers of possible codes so that the bombe is finally able to do its work. It’s an irony of history that the arrogant greeting „Heil Hitler“ – „Hail to Hitler“ helps the allies to win the war because these words are in fact hidden in every message.

But the life of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park isn’t to get easier at all. It is Alan who knowing that homosexuality is illegal tries to hide his biggest secret and protect his privacy while – at least in the film – is suspected to be a Russian spy. After World War II he isn’t celebrated as a war hero but sentenced to chemical castration to „heal“ his homosexuality. But the oestrogens not only caused growing breasts but left Alan unable to concentrate on his beloved work and he killed himself in 1954.

His work which is the basis of the modern computer technique and the internet was classified till 1970s. Queen Elizabeth granted Alan an Royal pardon on December 24th 2013 after the British Parliament refused to pardon Alan in 2011, even after former Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized 2009 on behalf of the British government: „I am very proud to say: we’re sorry. You deserved so much better.“

Read my review of the film here.

The German version of this blog entry was first published in Fränkischer Tag and on infranken.de.

Alan Turing – ein echter Held

Der Zweite Weltkrieg ist auch bald 70 Jahre nach seinem Ende immer noch präsent, jedenfalls wenn man sich den Stoff ansieht, aus dem Filme und Bücher gemacht sind. Mit „The Imitation Game – Ein streng geheimes Leben“ (115min, Verleih: Square One) kommt am 22. Januar ein weiterer Film, der in dieser Zeit spielt, ins deutsche Kino. Doch er ist nicht einfach ein weiterer Film, der in dieser Zeit spielt.

„The Imitation Game“ ist ein Film über den auch bei uns weitgehend unbekannten Helden Alan Turing. Der englische Mathematiker war zusammen mit seinen Kollegen maßgeblich daran beteiligt, den Zweiten Weltkrieg – wie Experten heute meinen – um bis zu vier Jahre zu verkürzen und Millionen Leben zu retten, indem er den deutschen Enigma-Code knackte. Doch der Film ist weit davon entfernt im Pathos zu ersticken, denn er ist auch eine Tragödie. Turing, den Zeitgenossen als liebenswerten, aber etwas merkwürdigen Menschen beschreiben, tat immer das, wovon er überzeugt war. Er lebte für die Mathematik, in der er als Genie galt, er war witzig und er war homosexuell zu einer Zeit, in der das verboten war und mit Gefängnis bestraft wurde.

„Sie brauchen mich viel mehr als ich Sie.“
Alan Turing in seinem Vorstellungsgespräch (meine Übersetzung)

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Benedict Cumberbatch als Alan Turing – aus einem Trailer. Screenshot: pb

Der Film von Regisseur Morton Tyldum hat alles, was ein guter Film braucht: er ist witzig, spannend, herzerwärmend und herzzerreißend. Und er ist zu allererst ein Film über Alan Turing (gespielt von Benedict Cumberbatch), der Großbritannien loyal diente, alle Geheimnisse über seine Arbeit in Bletchley Park wahrte und dafür nicht etwa mit allen Ehren bedacht wurde, die ein Land vergeben kann. Alan Turing wurde dafür bestraft, homosexuell zu sein und mit Östrogen behandelt, um ihn von der Homosexualität zu heilen. Außerdem hielt man ihn für unzuverlässig, Geheimnisse für sich behalten zu können und schloss ihn von seiner Arbeit als Kryptoanalytiker beim späteren britischen Geheimdienst aus.

Benedict Cumberbatchs beste Leistung

Benedict Cumberbatch gilt Kennern zurecht als einer der besten Schauspieler seiner Generation. In „The Imitation Game“ liefert er seine bisher beste schauspielerische Leistung auf der Kinoleinwand ab. Sein Alan ist verletzlich, arrogant, witzig, eigenbröterlisch und er tut und sagt immer genau das, was er in diesem Moment für richtig hält. Das wahre Können eines Schauspielers offenbart sich auch in dem, was er nicht sagt, dann nämlich, wenn ein Schauspieler mit einer einzigen Geste, einem einzigen Wimpernschlag einen ganzen Monolog erzählen kann. Das kann Benedict Cumberbatch den ganzen Film über, der in jedem Detail und mit jeder Rolle perfekt ist. Doch in der letzten Szene, die er zusammen mit Keira Knightley hat –  sie spielt Joan Clarke, eine Kollegin und Freundin, die auch noch nach Alan Turings Tod sehr viel für ihn empfunden hat – zeigt sich Benedict Cumberbatchs wahre Meisterschaft. Und die des Films, der auch in herzzerreißenden Szenen niemals kitschig ist.

„The Imitation Game“ ist ein Film, den man gesehen haben muss. Er verdient jede Auszeichnung, für die er bereits jetzt gehandelt wird.

 

Update: [25.Januar 2015]

Gestern habe ich die deutsche Fassung gesehen. Und ich muss zugeben: Sie ist nicht so schlimm wie ich befürchtet habe. Erst vor ein paar Tagen habe ich den deutschen Trailer noch einmal gesehen und war der festen Überzeugung, dass die Synchronisation grottenschlecht ist. Vor allem beim Vorstellungsgespräch zwischen Alan Turing (Sprecher: Tommy Morgenstern) und Commander Denniston (Leon Richter) hatte ich den Eindruck, dass beide Synchronstimmen überhaupt nicht zu denen der Schauspieler passen und viel zu hoch rüberkommen. Ein Eindruck, der sich dann auch bestätigt hat. Dass Tommy Morgenstern, der auch Sherlocks deutsche Stimme ist,  hier Benedict Cumberbatch seine Stimme leiht, hätte ich nicht gedacht. Sie klingt mir vergleichsweise viel zu hoch. Was aber sicher daran liegt, dass ich nicht nur an Benedicts tiefe Stimme gewöhnt bin, sondern auch daran, dass ich viel im englischen Original anschaue – dem Internet sei Dank. Daher wirken Synchronfassungen auf mich irgendwie flacher und zu sehr einem Hochdeutsch angepasst, dass im üblichen Sprachgebrauch so nicht verwendet wird. Das gilt auch für „The Imitation Game“.

Es ist sicher nicht leicht, eine Synchronisation zu machen: Vieles aus der Originalsprache ist schlichtweg nicht 1:1 ins Deutsche zu übersetzen, von der Koordination der Lippenbewegungen ganz zu schweigen. Weil nicht jeder einem Film auf Englisch (oder auch einer beliebigen anderen Sprache) folgen kann, ist sie dennoch hilfreich. Wer aber die Möglichkeit hat, die Originalfassung zu schauen, sollte das unbedingt tun. Auch wenn es vor allem für Ungeübte nicht leicht ist. Es lohnt sich!

Den englischen Trailer gibt es hier.


Hier gibt es den deutschen Trailer.

Grundlage für den Film ist das lesenswerte Buch von Andrew Hodges „Enigma“. Meinen englischen Buchtipp gibt es hier.

You can find the English version of this entry here.

A tribute to a true hero

With anniversaries of both World Wars, it seems we are flooded with documentaries, books and radio plays. And even despite the fact that this topic is a very important one, people could be bored getting another film situated in the Second World War.

„The Imitation Game“ is not just another film about one of the darkest periods in European history. It is a tribute to the true hero Alan Turing who helped breaking the German enigma code, win the war for the allies and saved thousands of lives. But it’s also a tragedy. Alan, who people always looked at as somehow different, awkward and not of this world, lived the life of a man who always was true to himself. He deeply cared for his work as a mathematician, dived into solving any problem and was – for all we learn from the people who knew him –  a very warm hearted man who happened to be gay in a time when homosexuality was illegal.

„You need me more than I need you.“ Alan Turing in his job interview

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing – from a trailer of „The Imitation Game“. Screenshot: pb

Director Morten Tyldum’s film is all you want to have in a really good movie: it is heartwarming, funny, heartbreaking, sad and thrilling. And it is a story about Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a man who loyally served his country, lived with all the secrets about his work at Bletchley Park during the war but instead of celebrating him as a war hero and giving him all the honour a country could give, was prosecuted for his sexuality, treated with oestrogens, intending to free him of his homosexuality. And if this wasn’t enough he was considered being unreliable of keeping secrets and was refused to continue his cryptographic work for the British Government Communications Headquarters.

Benedict Cumberbatch performs the role of his life. His Alan is vulnerable, arrogant, funny and he always does and says what he thinks is right at this special moment. And even if he doesn’t say anything, you know exactly what is going on in his mind – you just have to look to realise what only a brilliant actor is able to do: telling a whole story with a tiny movement within his face. The scenes with Keira Knightley who is Joan Clarke, a fellow mathematician and cryptanalysis who was in a relationship with Alan and still cared very deeply for him till his death and even afterwards, are far away from any kitsch film makers could squeeze into them.

„The Imitation Game“ is the must see film of this winter. It deserves all the awards the film industry has to offer.

—-

More about Alan Turing:

Andrew Hodges: The Enigma – the biography the film is based on. Read my review here.

Sinclair McKay: The Secret Life of Bletchley Park

Alan M. Turing: Centenary Edition

Official page of The Imitation Game

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park Podcast – Apple users click here.

Doctor Who – what a start!

Confessions first: I’m not a Whovian. At least not if you consider that a fan of the famous BBC series should know all episodes and all connections within a wink of an eye. Not to mention everything that happens behind the scenes and all the rumours that normally come with that. But I always loved sci fic films and series and I grew up with the original Star Trek which hit German telly and made my Saturday afternoons. While the United Federation of Planets has been with me ever since – and Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard will always be my Captain – Doctor Who crossed my way only about two years ago.

He was sort of a side kick of my beloved Sherlock, my effort to watch more in the original version and the lovely guys that are my timeline on Twitter. (Thank you for that – and thank you, internet.) So I found four things: Doctor Who is not on regular German telly, and if he was it never has been on a big broadcaster. Netflix  is my friend.  Matt Smith’s Doctor is my Doctor. And I somehow knew a few episodes of David Tennant’s incarnation although I was quite sure that I’ve never saw it before.

And so I cried and laughed and spread my brain to get the meaning of every sentence (and failed very often) and found my way to S8E1 „Deep Breath“. And it was a ride! What a start for the new series! Yes, I wasn’t sure about Peter Capaldi when I first saw him after he became the Doctor. And I’m still not sure if I will love him. But I like him at least. His confusion with his new body, the new face and with the people around him and of course his relationship with Clara – all these aspects are brilliantly played and not ordinary or boring at all. As Sherlock would put it. Well, he wouldn’t watch it, would he? And of course there are villains and monsters and old friends and travelling through time and space. Doctor Who is up for a new age, not better or worse, but darker and simply different. Let’s see how things will be without a bow tie.

 

Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor leaves his bow tie on the floor of the Tardis in "The Time of The Doctor". Source: BBC One, screenshot: pb

Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor leaves his bow tie on the floor of the Tardis in „The Time of The Doctor“. Source: BBC One, screenshot: pb

A quick look at „We Are Colony“

Oh, here you are again. The friendly but unforgiving hint „This film is not available in your country“. This time I’m not able to watch „Third Star“ on the brand new platform  „We Are Colony„.  A side dedicated to independent film makers and their fans, eager to get not only the film as a whole but also more stuff you only get as extras on DVDs or Blu rays from one single place.

Laughing and crying

In the case of  my beloved „Third Star“ I wrote about  a while ago on and which I re watch on a regular basis I have the DVD which doesnwww.wearecolony.com’t contain many extras. So I was really curious to learn more about behind the scene stuff and dive into gorgeous pics from Benedict Cumberbatch who plays James. And I was not disappointed. There are deleted scenes that somehow didn’t make the final cut, pics from behind the scene, stills and interviews with the cast. Material to fill hours watching, re watching and in the case of „Third Star“ laughing and crying.

The platform works like other streaming services: after you have received your invitation – which in my case took about  a day to reach my inbox – you are allowed to have a first free look around before you’ll hit a paywall. This paywall works for each film, which means you have to pay 1,99 Euro (the price and currency depends on your country) for the „Third Star“ package for example. Even if given the fact that – in my case – the film itself is not available it’s more than a fair price in exchange for what you get. And you are supporting independent films.

Another film starring Benedict Cumberbatch is „Little Favour“ . The action thriller was originally crowdfunded by fans and was so far only available on iTunes also made it to „We are Colony“.  The short film comes with a huge amount of extras  for 3,99 Euro only which again is very little money.

„We Are Colony“ has a friendly design which works very smoothly on my Ubuntu driven laptop and my Nexus 7 tablet. Would love to stream the films to my Google Chromecast and enjoy the stuff on my telly in the future.

 

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