The Imitation Game Vs Bridge of Spies– World War II Vs Cold War

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War has been around for generations. Wars can destroy lives, be the cause of inventions of weapons but most importantly, wars can shape society. A large portion of the film industry is dedicated to films portraying war. Two modern examples of this include the film “Bridge of spies” and “The imitation game”. Both films are set in the time frame of World war two and the cold war, yet focus on different countries during that time. “Bridge of Spies” mainly focuses on the USA and Russia, whereas “The imitation game” focuses completely on Germany and Britain.

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“The imitation game” Set in In 1939, Britain. A British intelligence agency (MI6) recruits

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a Cambridge mathematics alumnus to attempt to crack the “unbreakable” Nazi codes which were thought by cryptanalysts to be imperishable. Turning builds a machine to help penetrate the Enigma codes. Helped by his team which includes Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). Eventually, the team finally accomplish the goal of breaking the messages.

“Bridge of spies” is set in 1962, during the cold war. New York insurance Lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is given the task to allow convicted KGB spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) life imprisonment rather than the death penalty. During this time, Donovan receives information that CIA U.S pilot Francis Gary Powers after his spy plane was shot down by the Soviet Union, as well as American student Frederic Pryor who was arrested on the boarder of East and West Berlin. Donovan decides to attempt to free both Powers and Pryor in exchange for Abel. Eventually accomplishing the trade.

Both movies strongly showing the theme of Heroism, as both protagonists accomplish their goals by the end of the movie. The hollywood productions skip showing how brutal and gruesome war actually is. Showing as there was no true winner to the wars, the film industry attempted a different approach by presenting a brighter and lighter perspective of war in that “the protagonists always win”. As by the end of either film, the protagonists achieve their original goals with little to no harm. Both films do show some forms of violence but often only verbally. For example when Student Fredric Pryor was being arrested at the Berlin boarder (in “Bridge of spies”) The officers were extremely aggressive, physically abuse and stubborn when Pryor was pleading his reasoning for his location. Ripping off the camera from around his neck, seizing his only form of proof that he was a student (a thick book containing his major thesis), becoming violent when he attempts to retrieve his thesis. This shows how the soldiers have no mercy or attempt to listen/ understand the issues being placed before them thus skipping to violence to show power and status. The theme of violence is common in “The imitation game”. In a scene featuring Turing and his team, they have broken Enigma and have found out an attack is about to commence killing hundreds. Majority of the team leap for the phone and opportunity in order to stop and counteract the attack. Turing abruptly attempts to stop his team from countering the attack as it will make known to the Germans that they have broken Enigma thus destroying their years of work towards achieving this. A member of his team punches Turing in the face striving to save hundreds of civilians to avoid more violence. “Do you know why people like violence? Because it feels good. Sometimes we cant do what feels good, we have to do what is logical” (Alan Turing, “The imitation game”). Turing realises that countering the violence with violence will create more damage then letting 500 innocent civilians die. This somewhat breaks the fourth wall since Turing is indirectly addressing the audience attempting to portray the issues. Returning back to the theme of heroism, Turing’s team is determined to be heroes and save the people, but with the alternative perspective given by turing they then realise the ultimate ‘correct’ there is to be made is to allow some to die to continue the ability to read the codes and possibly end the war with the power of knowledge.

Perseverance and determination are other similar concepts shown between the two films. In “Bridge of spies” James Donovan is told it is almost impossible to save Abel, when he announces his idea for the exchange of two men for Abel, his request is seen as ridiculous and to proceed with just one man swap. Only with extreme negotiation is he able to achieve what he has inquired. When at the boarder, Donovan refused to hand over Abel for Powers if Pryor was not included. Even if it meant losing the entire agreement, Donovan showed remarkable perseverance for justice as he knew Pryor was not a spy and was falsely accused. Francis Powers: “I gave them nothing. I gave them nothing.”

James Donovan: “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what people think. You know what you did.”- (“Bridge of spies”)

This conversation was had on the plane back to the U.S. Powers showed he had loyalty to his country, enough perseverance not to give up any information despite being sentenced to prison and possible torture. Again relating back to the main theme of Heroism as Powers did what was needed to be done for his country, sacrificing himself. The same themes of Perseverance and determination are shown in “The imitation game”, even as though Turing can be described as “Arrogant, temperamental and condescending” (Leigh Paatsch National film critic, 2017) his main goal in life is to break the Enigma code. He prefers to work alone, but when forced to work with others he sets the bar high. Turing’s level of perseverance is on a new level. When the head of M16 threatens to shut down the project of working on the ‘unbreakable’ codes, Turing asks for a set amount of time to complete the task. Even when he is banned from continuing, he sneaks out after the curfew and attempts to fix the machine used to break Enigma. Relating back to the main theme of heroism as without the level of perseverance and determination for completing the task he had signed up for, he would never have achieved the results saving the lives of many, as well as giving British intelligence more information due to the breaking of the Enigma messages.


The main purpose of this source was to analyse, recount and give a synopsis of the film. The audience intended for this source were people looking at a deeper understanding and analysis of the film. This source gives brief reviews from users of the site also helping the reader identify other unique views. The authors research focuses on retelling of the story as well as mentioning some themes briefly. This source is limiting as for my research the themes were only briefly mentioned. Although, this source is useful for my research as the unique opinions of the reviews from site users brings insight on other topics from the film.

The main focus for this source was to recount parts of the film with a professional personal opinion of it as well. The intended audience for this source are people who are interested in the film and other film news bloggers. The conclusion reached through this article was that the film lived up to what was promised by the synopsis giving it a good rating. The reviewer also gave their personal views on the story line helping me to achieve a different perspective on the film and its themes. Unfortunately as it was personal opinion, it limited the amount of information for the set task available. The work helped provide another view of the main character.

The main purpose for this source was to show a clip from the film explaining the meaning of violence to the protagonist. The source explores the main characters in the film and their reactions and intellectual abilities when faced with decisions. The audience intended for this source were people looking at a deeper understanding and analysis of the film. This source was limiting as it was a two minute clip with no external detailing. This source was helpful as it demonstrated the themes being explored.

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