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Image of Benedict Cumberbatch in an Imitation Game

Modern-day London echoes the past in Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Date posted: 12.11.2014

Fresh from opening this year's BFI London Film Festival, The Imitation Game arrives on screens around the UK this Friday as it receives a highly-anticipated theatrical release.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, the film is a biopic of Alan Turing, a mathematician who famously cracked Germany's Enigma code and helped the Allies to victory in World War II.

Reproducing the past

Much of the action takes place at the height of the war, as bomb strikes on the capital and beyond see British morale pushed to an all-time low.

Staying true to the film's title, the production saw today's capital double for London in the 1940s in several key scenes. The shoot made use of various locations around central London, including the Royals Courts of Justice, the former Central St Martins building and Cloth Fair. The closed Underground station at Aldwych also served as a perfect location for shots depicting Londoners sheltering from air raids during the Blitz.

This spells rubble

In one scene, Turing cycles to a meeting at MI6 through a central London street littered with damage from a Luftwaffe bomb attack the night before. This was shot on Chancery Lane and Carey Street, which made a convincing double for the Blitz-era location. This shoot involved a 48-hour weekend road closure, which was secured with the help of Westminster Council? and the Corporation of London Film Offices, along with Filmfixer representing Camden Council.

David Broder, the production's location manager, describes how the set was constructed: "Exterior painting of buildings took place for two weeks prior to the shoot. On the prep day on the Saturday, 80 tons of rubble were dropped onto Chancery Lane and thousands of sandbags covered the Law Society buildings and others. The shoot was a great success with two main units working through the day on the Sunday."

The clean-up operation was another mammoth task; it required a much quicker turnaround with the City due to rush back into life on Monday morning. "On wrap on Sunday evening, the clear-up began to get the street back to working order by 6am the next day. This was achieved with the art and location department, props, construction and our road cleaning gang working through the night."

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