The *Other* Upcoming Alan Turing Feature Film

Days to Centenary: 250

A veritable blizzard of news reports resulted recently when it was accounced  thta not only had Warner Bros. purchased a spec script called The Imitation Game based on the life of Alan Turing for seven figures, and not only was the script reportedly awesome, but also that Hollywood boyhunk-turned-institution Leonardo DiCaprio was keen to star (see my post).

At the time, The Turing Centenary revealed that there was already a Turing film with the same title (okay, a quick YouTube search would have revealed the same thing, but heck, no one else was reporting it).

But that film was only eight minutes long, and while it was fun it wasn’t much on substance.  But there is another feature length Turing film due out soon, this one a documentary.  In fact — as Turing-o-philes will already know — this film has been in the works for some time and has a cross-your-fingers-and-toes hoped-for release date of somewhere around the centenary in June 2012.

I’m not mocking the filmmakers with that last sentence — they will get nothing but my admiration and blessings — I just have respect for how hard it is to get a feature-length documentary made if you’re not Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock.  Even then it’s a lot of work and a lot of worry over financing, meaning that a delay in one’s anticipated release date is more the kind of surprise that comes with stubbing your toe (unexpected but not revelatory) than the kind that comes with being greeted by aliens on a dark country road (unexpected and likely to induce both awe and a little fear and trembling).

And The Genius of Alan Turing is inteded to be much more than just a movie:

Project Details
The centerpiece of this ambitious project is a definitive feature-length drama documentary shot in HD focusing on the life and legacy of Alan Turing. A comprehensive marketing and distribution plan will leverage opportunities for broadcast, theatrical, VOD, DVD, and educational distribution of the film to reach millions of viewers around the world . The website accompanying the documentary will go beyond the scope of the film; offering extended interviews with Turing experts and a more in-depth analysis of his life and legacy. Additionally, we will develop a comprehensive package to assist educators – including a DVD of the film, a teacher’s guide, suggested reading list, and a specially constructed resource window on the website. Taken together, this comprehensive cross-platform venture will stand for years to come as a detailed, invaluable, and evolving reference source on Alan Turing.

Alan Turing
The film will appeal to audiences the world over because Turing’s life story still fascinates, inspires, and enrages people. We are developing a thoroughly researched, no-holds-barred treatment of Turing’s place in history by looking not only at his astonishing life story but at the continuing resonance of his life 100 years after his birth. Turing’s personal story is relevant to all. His story is a parable, one as relevant today and as inspirational as any modern tale or Greek myth. In the stark black and white confines of the 1940s and early 1950s he dared to be different, to follow his own genius rather than the establishment view of what ought to be done. As a consequence, his extraordinary mind brought into being three new fields of scientific endeavor in spite of his environment rather than encouraged by it. 100 years later, Turing’s story is one of self-belief and anti-establishment courage in the face of government persecution and creative suffocation, a story that viewers around the world will relate to.

Why now? 
The time is long overdue for an ambitious and definitive film like this about Alan Turing. With dozens of events planned in the US, the UK and around the world to mark the 2012 centenary of Turing’s birth, now is the ideal time for this project.

The Film
The Genius of Alan Turing (working title) has an ambitious scope; a feature-length drama documentary that details the highs and lows of Turing’s life, tracking his extraordinary accomplishments, his government persecution through to his tragic death in 1954. Documentary elements will provide important context and informational nourishment. The film will tell the story of a man who went from wartime hero, to vilified and mistreated social outcast, to largely forgotten genius. The pitch and content is a mix of Hitchcockian intrigue, Shakespearean tragedy, and fly by the seat of your pants Hollywood plotlines. This entertaining and informative film will move beyond archival film and old photos to offer a fresh perspective on Turing’s life, death, and legacy.

The Production Team
An international production team will bring Turing into the 21st Century with fresh evidence, modern perspectives, and new voices. The producers have experience transforming complex scientific subjects into award-winning entertaining cinematic epics.

They have also created a nifty little teaser trailer:

So just around the hundredth birth of the man, we are suddenly about to be treated to a biopic and a documentary about the life of Alan Turing (with a little luck, which may be needed to ensure that the doc gets made and distributed and that the biopic isn’t derailed or stuck in development hell).  Turing’s not around to enjoy the fact that he’s finally getting something like the recognition he deserves, but for those of us who’ve long championed him this is really, really sweet.

Post Script on the Hollywood Biopic

On the heels of the announcement of the biopic there was a lot of comment to the effect that Leonardo DiCaprio was beginning to make a habit of playing gay or maybe/kinda gay real life people.  First J. Edgar (about cross-dressing and possibly gay maniacal FBI overlord J. Edgar Hoover), people said, and now this.  What most commentary missed was that DiCaprio also played the poet Arthur Rimbaud in the film Total Eclipse, which portrayed the teenage Rimbaud’s affair with the married Paul Verlaine.  Trailer below:

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