DOI: 10.1515/zaa-2023-2026 ISSN: 0044-2305

Modes of Social Closure in Morten Tyldum’s Film The Imitation Game

Norbert Schaffeld
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


This article discusses Morten Tyldum’s film The Imitation Game in terms of its media-specific representation of social closure at three spatio-temporal levels. They involve Alan Turing’s boarding school in the late 1920s, Bletchley Park, the home of the cryptanalysts during the Second World War, and a homophobic Britain of the early 1950s. The paper borrows from an expanded neo-Weberian theoretical frame and attempts to address power-based processes of social closure by means of an approach that relates the storyline to selected semiotic modes used by the film language. The analysis foregrounds some scenic juxtapositions and modal ties to illustrate how the two codebreakers, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), cope with an exclusionary society, its homophobic legislation, sexist attitudes, and, in the case of young Alan, its practice of physical bullying.