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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: "Cold Mountain" Wash. Post Style Review

Hi Kato:

I hope that you are doing well. I just posted a url about the history of black cryptologists and a bit of the history of Bletchley Park's Alan Turing. His biographer Andrew Hodges echoes many of your sentiments.

I'm posting a bit of his film review here. The entire text is at the url below.

Review written for the British Society for the History of Mathematics Autumn 2001 Newsletter

"There is a contradiction at the heart of any work of fiction, especially avowedly 'historical fiction': falsity has somehow to be grafted on to truth. Nothing can satisfactorily resolve this logical impossibility: without falsity the work is not fiction; without an element of truth it is not historical. We must somehow suspend belief for the fiction, yet at the same time give credence to its historical 'accuracy.' The political writer and novelist Robert Harris is alive to such questions, and when writing his fiction Enigma, (Hutchinson, London, 1995), set amidst the World War II codebreaking work at Bletchley Park, made a thoughtful choice of the period in early 1943."

"For this very reason, however, those who see the film are liable to assume that the material is all well-founded, and thereby give all the more credence to its distortions in particular, returning to the theme I know most personally, the disgraceful exploitation yet elimination of Alan Turing, and behind this, a certain contempt for intellectual history. Some people may think that it is valuable to have a film which illustrates morsels of mathematical work. I certainly cannot take an absolutist view, having acceded in the production of 'Breaking the Code' out of my biography of Alan Turing. But I am inclined to conclude that in the dangerous and basically impossible task of welding fiction and fact, it is essential to keep some basic grip on authenticity in thought and ideas. Props and technical details can be brilliantly lit while still shedding darkness on central truths."

Hodges' eloquence matches yours.

K Wyer Lane


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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