Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Yours in distress, Alan"... eye-opening documentary, 1 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Codebreaker [DVD] (DVD)
"Codebreaker: The Alan Turing Story" (2013 release from the UK; 81 min.) is a documentary about Alan Turing, a British math genius who can be called the father of the computer. As the documentary opens, we are reminded that "the drama in this film is based on Alan Turing's writings, historical records, and accounts of those who knew him". After a short introduction where we see Turing talk to his shrink in Manchester, 1952, the documentary cuts back to the beginnings with archival pictures from his days at Sherborne School in 1926 where he develops a strong friendship (if not more) with a class mate. The class mate's death in 1930, just as they were about to start university at Cambridge was devastating to Turing, Turing eventually releases a paper in 1936 "On Computable Numbers", which signals the true dawn of the digital age, confirmed by such interviewees as Steve Wozniak (who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs) and others. Turing eventually broke the code of the German Enigma machine in WWII, a pivotal moment and making him a true hero in every respect. Yet, because of the secrecy of that program, Turing never got the recognition for it, and his homosexual orientation resulted in many troubles. At one point, Turing writes a letter to a friend when things are rough, and he signs off with "Yours in distress, Alan". To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out,

Couple of comments: first, watching this gripping documentary gives you a great perspective on the historical importance Turing had on many levels. Second, apart from the many interviews giving insight to Turing's life, there are quite a few historical re-enactments, primarily of Turing talking to his shrink, which I felt were the least effective part of the documentary. Instead, it was fascinating to watch how exactly Turing broke the code of the German Enigma machine, and later how he expanded into other fields such as mathematical biology in the early 50s (showing a mathematical basis as to why, say, stripes formed on the tiger or the zebra). In essence, Turing broke the code of nature similar to his breaking the code of the Enigma Machine. Third, it is truly shameful how this man, a true war hero, was treated by British authorities in the post-WWII era for being gay (which the British government later, after his death, apologized for).

Bottom line, I found this documentary to be very informative, and compelling on so many levels. It proves again that facts always trump fiction if you have a good story to tell. "Codebreaker: The Alan Turing Story" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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4.1 out of 5 stars (35 customer reviews)
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£15.99 £7.70
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Paul Allaer
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Location: Cincinnati

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