Battle Of The Boffins: Theory vs. Imitation

CONGRATULATIONS to EDDIE REDMAYNE: BEST ACTOR 2015

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“Both films offer main characters with enormous intelligence and originality… both are worth a watch, especially for a vivid narrative on an otherwise dense historical figure” – interviewmagazine.com

Two movies with so much in common, so might as well devote the same Post to them, especially now as the Academy Awards 2015 wrapped up just last night. Both are critically-acclaimed British movies about British scientific geniuses, played by top British actors who have each been nominated for several different awards. In that case, it will make a nice change to write about a couple of movies which were well-constructed and a pleasure to watch.

Although both movies have been out for over a month internationally already, they have only just been released here on my side of the world. With the 87th Academy Awards fast approaching, some emergency cinema-going had to be implemented, sharpish…

Whether they provide accurate portraits of their very real and learned subjects is open to ongoing debate, yet there is no doubt that both these movies are significant examples of powerful and emotionally-charged film-making; so, without further ado, let’s explore the astounding phenomenon that is: Beneddie Cumbermayne.

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“Oh my god, thank you, thank you… I don’t think I’m capable of articulating quite how I feel right now… I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. Erm, this Oscar- WOW!” – Eddie Redmayne.

“There should be no boundaries to human endeavour. We are all different. However bad life might seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope” – Stephen Hawking. 

Let’s begin with the movie which held greater personal appeal, and got Eddie his gong. Professor Stephen Hawking is one of this age’s greatest minds and probably the most famous living scientist on Earth. For me, he is an inspirational hero whose work is never far from my study. Primarily, it was intriguing to learn that The Theory of Everything is indeed “a masterful work of heartbreaking artistry and perfection.” 

In a truly amazing performance, Eddie Redmayne portrays a young, able-bodied, zestful atheist/cosmologist at Oxford, before the early onset of motor neuron disease. Of course, this could not be possible without sterling supporting roles, especially Eddie’s “staggering partner-in-crime”: Felicity Jones, who played the scientist’s wife: Jane; and “ferocious yet incredibly kind” direction from James Marsh. 

There was the slight possibility that Redmayne’s chances of winning would be seriously scuppered by his involvement in the staggeringly awful: Jupiter Ascending, but he was clear favourite, and had been for some time. 

Yet is this movie a fair depiction of this degenerative disease and a progressive vehicle to help instigate change in general attitudes towards the disabled? Once again, the same old sentimental cliches have been detected; therefore, some would dismiss this Theory as unconvincing…

Some cynics may scoff that playing the physically-challenged almost always ensures a fistful of gongs, but no one should besmirch Redmayne’s deserved moment of accomplishment. Among the first to congratulate the young star-in-the-making was Stephen Hawking himself. “Congratulations to Eddie Redmayne for winning an Oscar for playing me…” the Professor posted on Facebook. “Well done Eddie, I’m very proud of you.” 

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“I couldn’t stop crying, just thinking, my God, he [Alan Turing] went through this. And to get near that understanding because I’d played him for a while by then… God, it was just really upsetting” – Benedict Cumberbatch.

“One day, ladies will be walking their computers in the park and saying: ‘do you know, my little computer said a very funny thing to me this morning…’” – Alan Turing.  

The Imitation Game features the events responsible for turning the tide of the Second World War, concentrating on another real-life genius. Alan Turing was the greatest mathematician of his age, and can be credited as the pioneer of our computer age. Working at the Top Secret facility of Bletchley Park during the war, he built the machine that would crack Germany’s “unbreakable” Enigma Code. Due to the sensitivity of his work, Turing’s achievements were never recognised during his lifetime. Instead of becoming a war hero, he was disgraced; arrested because of his homosexuality in 1952 and ended up taking his own life two years later (receiving a Royal Pardon only in 2013).

From Benedict Cumberbatch there is what could be his career-defining (movie) performance; it is certainly Oscar-worthy. He portrays Turing as socially complex and incorrigibly difficult to work with, and yet manages to make the man watchable. There is a splendidly evocative recreation of 1940s England, and the drama is further enhanced by deft direction by Morten Tyldum and some distinctive supporting performances, especially Keira Knightley in the role of Joan Clarke who, ironically, seems to have been Turing’s longest and closest companion.

Special mention and congrats must go to Graham Moore who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, accepting it with one of the more memorable speeches of the evening. The Imitation Game works because it is very much an old-fashioned biopicIt is an extraordinary movie about an extraordinary man. 

No point in toiling here over the major issues of fact-fudging which inevitably bedevil filmed biographies – not only would it be long-winded and almost as monotonous as sitting through this year’s Oscars show, it would seriously jeopardise the number of Likes/Comments this Post could muster. Rather than fret over which one of these dramas is best, it would be much more sensible to accept both of these fantastic movies on their own superlative merits – a credit to the once floundering British film industry. 

Hang on a mo, tho… 

Interestingly, Cumberbatch actually portrayed Professor Hawking in a 2004 BBC TV movie; this was obviously pre-superstardom and ineligible for the Oscars…!   

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Yay! Off-screen they are both the best of friends really. Aah, all’s well that’s fine and dandy, then. And as you can see, even ambitious bunnies get awards these days…

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So, no hard feelings, Mr. White Tuxedo? 

Well, almost none… 

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“What a lad!” claimed UK’s Daily Mirror. Down the hatch, Cumberbatch!

Cheers!

 

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8 thoughts on “Battle Of The Boffins: Theory vs. Imitation

  1. Thanks for your Comment, good sir!
    As I’m approaching th end of this Post, I thot to myself: “Don’t think Arcane will drop by for this 1!” Ha!
    Anyway, good to see u again, as always – both actors r dependable; this yr’s Best Actor performance is as good as any.
    Cheers!

  2. Awesome write-up. I totally agree about it being a good thing that Jupiter Ascending didn’t ruin his chances. Same thing happened with Moore and the awful medieval movie she just starred in.

    • Thank you for your Comment, Priya!
      Redmayne deserves to work w quality material – these days, he’ll b lucky if he can find much of it!
      Keep up th good work! When can I expect your answers to my Liebster questions?
      Sorry for th late Reply
      Cheers!

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