January 11, 2015, Prescott Valley- Autism is rarely depicted on the big screen. We may see it on television, via at least one of the characters on the series, “Scorpion”. Film, though, implies a consistent flow of action. We who are autistic are prone to periods of calm and inaction, often accompanied by silence- hardly the stuff of a major box office success.
I joined a group at a Screen Actors Guild viewing of “The Imitation Game”, last night. As this was a private viewing, there was none of the First Look, previews of coming attractions, or sitting afterwards to check out who played what part, as the credits roll. There was a solid cast of British thespians: Benedict Cumberbatch, in the lead, supported well by Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance and Mark Strong.
The voice-over at the beginning admonishes the viewer to “Pay Attention”, all the more vital, given the slow pace of the film, during the first two-thirds of the story and the constant flip-flops, from one time period to the next. I devoted myself to do just that; the task was made easier by the presence of another man, who had exemplary command of detail.
I was primarily interested in how an autistic like Alan Turing would be portrayed. Mr. Cumberbatch mastered both the autistic behaviour and the non-flamboyant homosexuality of Dr. Turing. As his long-suffering assistants, Ms. Knightley and Mr. Goode reminded me of the best of my friends from youth and early adulthood. My wife largely carried me out of the fog of the Spectrum, much as Ms. Knightley’s character, both as his sham fiancee and as a genuine friend, managed to do, with Dr. Turing.
Attentiveness is a huge deal for someone like me. Having worked so hard to be in the moment and stay out of the fog that’s in my head, I tune out the extraneous, and quite readily now. If I am engaged in an activity, the phone goes to vibrate- or increasingly, totally off. If I am working, the rest of life gets checked at the door. If I am on the trail, everything on all sides, above and below, gets brought into my awareness, as part of the natural experience. If I am driving, I get irritated by any demand from a passenger to “notice ME and what I want”. The road, and my fellow drivers, have my full attention. Texting or talking on the phone, while behind the wheel, are foreign to me, especially since I am no longer a caretaker.
Pay attention- a good way to stay out of trouble, I’d say.