The Creator @ FACT

Written and directed by Al Holmes and Al Taylor (Al and Al).

Alan Turing was a man of many exceptional feats; he gave birth to the modern day computer with his development of modern day computer science, algorithm, mathematical computation in his ‘Turing Machine’ and he also played a major part in cracking the Enigma Code during World War 2 at Bletchley Park for the Allied forces. Turing was a mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist. He was so brilliant and ahead of his time he moved onwards from computer science before it had even taken off. Alan Turing, to say the least was a genius.

Despite his exceptional mind however, he faced the challenges imposed by the society of his time – being a homosexual man was illegal in the UK at the time. When his sexuality was discovered he had a choice of imprisonment or chemical castration. Choosing the latter he continued his life with hormonal treatment until he committed suicide using a poisoned apple, a symbolic but mournful gesture relating to his love of the story Snow White.

Al and Al are fellow fans of Turing and their film ‘The Creator’ is a striking homage to the late Turing and his final hours:

‘Thinking Machines from the future search for their origins and destiny inside the dream diaries of their  Creator, Alan Turing. During Jungian therapy with Doctor Greenbaum, Turing discovers the secrets of his unconscious mind and what drives him to build a Thinking Machine. With the reality of his arrest and conviction making him face the repression of his love, Turing finds himself preparing his symbolic suicide by poisoning a red apple.’

The film explores the bleak, dreamlike scenes of Turing’s demise during his final hours.  Monochrome scenes transform themselves between the effervescent growth of mechanical formations and the tumultuous haze of Turing’s consciousness.  This irrational and convoluted picture portrays a man in confusion and despair, his impotent existence fraught with a disdain for reality whilst taking shelter working in his ‘laboratory’ and on his ‘thinking machines’.

I enjoyed the film for its allegory and how it used symbolism to portray his giving birth to ‘thinking machines’ through his own persecution and impotence. For instance, the symbolism of the apple and the snake captured a sense of biblical prophecy regarding him as a ‘Creator’ of the new age of computers we take advantage of today. The 42 minutes of film however felt a bit over-baked and focussed too much on the injustice of his extinction, rather than the importance of his legacy. Much of the film seemed to be cuts of animated machinery overlaid with Turing’s narration about his dreams which felt a bit repetitive after 30 minutes.  Al and Al could have explored the idea of Turing’s legacy through the eyes of a conscious computer, or as a time capsule left within a Turing machine, or as an encrypted message within a computer chip, the list goes on.  The film seemed much too literal to capture the ambiguous, chaotic beauty of computer algorithms and un-computable discoveries Turing strove to decipher and study.

Despite what you may think of as a scathing review I would certainly recommend the film to anyone hoping to learn more about Alan Turing and his work. Al and Al have made an emblematic and abstract homage to a great man and should be commended for their artistic creation in ‘The Creator’.

Give their website a visit and check out their other films.

Dennis

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