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Breaking the Code (1996)

A biography of the English mathematician Alan Turing, who was one of the inventors of the digital computer and one of the key figures in the breaking of the Enigma code, used by the Germans... See full summary »

Director:

Herbert Wise

Writers:

Andrew Hodges (book), Hugh Whitemore (play)
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Derek Jacobi ... Alan Turing
Alun Armstrong ... Mick Ross
Blake Ritson ... Christopher Morcom
William Mannering ... Young Alan Turing
Prunella Scales ... Sara Turing
Julian Kerridge Julian Kerridge ... Ron Miller
Harold Pinter ... John Smith
Richard Johnson ... Dilwyn 'Dilly' Knox
Amanda Root ... Patricia 'Pat' Green
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Storyline

A biography of the English mathematician Alan Turing, who was one of the inventors of the digital computer and one of the key figures in the breaking of the Enigma code, used by the Germans to send secret orders to their U-boats in World War II. Turing was also a homosexual in Britain at a time when this was illegal. Written by Will Gilbert

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Genres:

Biography | Drama

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hugh Whitemore's original play opened in the West End of London in November 1986. See more »

Quotes

[giving friendly advice to Turing about his homosexuality which was regarded as illegal at the time]
Dilwyn 'Dilly' Knox: I don't give a tuppenny damn whether you choose to go to bed with choirboys or cocker spaniels, but it would be wiser to keep your private life to yourself.
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Connections

Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #10.5 (1997) See more »

User Reviews

Slow but interesting character piece
1 October 2007 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I came to this film thinking it would be about the code-breaking element of Alan Turing's life, his work on the famous Enigma code and computers and it took me a minute to get into the fact that the film is actually much more about him as a man in the later stages of his life. In this regard the film actually turns out to be more interesting than it would have been if it just focused on the work side of the man; certainly it serves up more for the writers and lead actor to work with.

I think it was a coincidence but the film was shown recently on BBC4 around the time that Channel 4 was marking the 40th anniversary of the legalisation of male homosexuality in the UK, which is a theme that is central in this film. The material brings out the genius and imagination of Turing but also the tragic confession that saw his life under threat. The film leaves us in no doubt that Turing was fortunate in his situation but that the illegal nature of his (now commonplace) sexual relationship saw his life threatened regardless of what he had done in the past.

It is this truth and this struggle that the film focuses on and it makes it more interesting as a result. Wise's direction is quite patient and still, which makes the film feel a little stagy and slow but works in the way it sits back and allows the cast to work. Specifically this serves Derek Jacobi well because his performance is impressive throughout, whether it is his passion for his subject or his sense of panic when he realises he has incriminated himself, he is convincing. Support is good from Armstrong, Scales, Pinter and others but the film does belong to Jacobi.

Overall then this is a slow film that may frustrate some viewers with its pace or the way that it overlooks Turings work in favour of him as a man. This does work though and makes for an interesting character piece and, other than the pace the only issue I had with it was the fact that the film concludes with the news that Turing was later recognised by having part of a roundabout in Manchester named after him. Surely it would have been better to have closed the film by remembering his contribution rather than this rather weak platitude?


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A kód feltörése See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.6:1
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