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In the film, Denniston, who was a commander at Bletchley Park where the Nazi Enigma code was broken, is seen as a the main adversary to Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and is seen arguing against the mathematician’s methods and looking for any excuse to get rid of him. Dance himself has described his character as a “pompous prat.”
But in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, seven of Denniston’s grandchildren and his goddaughter — who were not consulted during the film’s research phase — complained that he has been misrepresented, and paid tribute to him.
“While the much-acclaimed film The Imitation Game rightly acknowledges Alan Turing’s vital role in the war effort, it is sad that it does so by taking an unwarranted sideswipe at Cdr Alastair Denniston, portraying him as a hectoring character who merely hindered Turing’s work,” they wrote, with Denniston’s niece and goddaughter Libby Buchanan recalling a “quiet, dignified” man.
Denniston’s granddaughter, Judith Finch, added: “He is completely misrepresented. They needed a baddy, and they’ve put him in there without researching the truth about the contribution he made.”
In response to the criticism, screenwriter Graham Moore and the film producers told the Telegraph that Denniston was one of the “great heroes” of Bletchley Park.
“As such, he had the perhaps unenviable position of being a layman overseeing the work of some of the century’s finest mathematicians and academics — a situation bound to result in conflict as to how best to get the job done,” he said.
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