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Bücher, Filme, Technik und Benedict Cumberbatch – auf Deutsch and in English

Schlagwort: Bletchley Park

David Lagercrantz: Fall of Man in Wilmslow 

It is a novel. A fiction, not a documentary about the life of Alan Turing. This is important because people tend to take every word for granted, weighing it carefully, comparing it to proved facts about the man who helped to break Nazi Germany’s Enigma code.

David Lagercrantz takes those facts and some more (Alan’s homosexuality, his somehow awkward behaviour, his genius) and unfolds his story from the very last day of Alan’s life and the moment his corpse is discovered by a local policeman. This man, Detective Constable Leonard Corell, takes a very special interest in this case that seems to be nothing more than suicide. Step by step he dives deeper into the life and thinking of Alan Turing – a journey which doesn’t leave his own life untouched.

“(I)f indeed anyone was an unbreakable code then it was Alan himself.”

“The Fall of the Man in Wilmslow” is a thrilling story that hooks you from the very first page. If (and this is an if I only can claim for myself) you already know something about Alan Turing’s life and impact. Then you find hints you have read elsewhere, imagine pictures, films or documentaries you have seen or listen to and you will be able to find your pace between fact and fiction this novel is constantly mixing up. If you haven’t stumbled upon Alan Turing at all, you probably will be lost in between the complexity of the story that hops from the past to the present and back again, changes perspectives and comes  up with names and places you might find confusing because you have never heard of them. If you still want to find out more about Alan Turing, start with a biography (or click on the link given below).

FallOfMan

David Lagercrantz: Fall of the Man in Wilmslow. The death and life of Alan Turing. A Novel, MacLehose Press, about 9£.

You find more about Alan Turing here on my blog.

Prof Alan Turing decoded

What is the point in writing another biography of Alan Turing more than 60 years after his death? And what can be really new when you know Andrew Hodges’ “Enigma” which is both a thrilling approach to the professional life of the man who helped breaking the German Enigma code in the Second World War and an look inside the man who wasn’t allowed to live and love as a homosexual man in the UK of the 50s?

The point is that the author Dermot Turing, is Alan’s nephew and although he has never met his uncle, he takes the reader with “Prof – Alan Turing decoded” inside the Turing family, presenting not only pictures you may not have seen before but also letters and notes scribbled by Alan when thinking about his work (which makes me wonder how his third notebook which was sold at an auction earlier this year may look like. ) Although the book is – as always when it comes to very specific scientific topics – not always an easy read. But even if you don’t have the brain of a mathematician  or a computer expert, you’ll can’t help but to be in awe of a man who apparently was awkward and brilliant as a codebreaker in Bletchley Park and as the father of the computer age, somehow way ahead of his time and down to earth in a stunningly pragmatic way.

“He was a strange character, a very reserved sort, but he mixed in with everyone quite well.”

A way that wasn’t always an easy one to cope with. Imagine Alan at your door at any time of day without any notice to announce his visit or him walking away when he found a conversation boring. But he easily connected with children whom he met on equal levels and talked seriously about such things as if God could catch a cold when he sat on wet grass.

“Prof” is a biography about a man “who had something special which the rest of us do not”. It is worth reading.

 

Dermot Turing: Prof – Alan Turing decoded. A biography. The history press, about 20€/ 16£.

Further reading:
Alan Turing – his work and impact.

Bletchley Park – where the codebreakers are still alive

At the beginning: two confessions.
The first: The name “Bletchley Park” sounds familiar for me since years. I can’t remember why or can’t put my finger on the occasion when the place where hugely intelligent minds cracked the German Enigma code during the Second World War first appeared in my knowledge. And the fact that “Enigma” is connected to Alan Turing was always hidden somewhere in the far regions of my brain – maybe because of some history teacher back at school (a bow to him whoever he was).

The second: it needed a Benedict Cumberbatch to get my mind to work and bringing my knowledge back to me. So when it was confirmed that Benedict was about to play Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game” I happily dived into the topic, reading Andrew Hodges’ “The Enigma” and literally getting my hands on any possible information about the codebreaker that helped to shorten the war and saved millions of life. And soon enough I made up my mind to see  Bletchley Park for myself, a wish that came true in September of 2015.

Only about an hour train drive from London, Bletchley Park is a space packed with a huge pile of information about Enigma (there are lots of different machines on display),  both a replica of the original Bombe and the one used in the film “The Imitation Game” (that helped decoding the German messages very fast) and insight looks into life at wartime Bletchley Park with the help of sounds and voices at special spots throughout the place and with offices decorated with very much love to every single detail so that the rooms give the impressions their inhabitants are just off for a lunch break (as the sheet of paper in their typewriters say).

Alan Turing's desk Photo: Petra Breunig

Alan Turing’s desk Photo: Petra Breunig

Especially in Alan Turing’s office, looking at his desk with papers spreading everywhere, his wardrobe where clothes are stuffed carelessly inside and the radiator with a mug chained to, ready to be used in a moment, the past seems to be so alive that I expected Alan Turing tapping me on the shoulder when I carefully stared at his desk, taking a picture.

With the special exhibition  “The Imitation Game” about to end on November 1st 2015, some Benedict Cumberbatch fans who are in London for “Hamlet” at the Barbican may think about a visit – they should make up their mind.

[Update: The Imitation Game-exhibition will be open at least till July 2016  “due to popular demand”.

 

 

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)

TIG_OFTrailer_23_ 2014-07-21 16:22:34

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

TIG_OFTrailer_23_ 2014-07-21 16:22:34

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.

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