In two parallel stories, the clockmaker John Harrison builds the marine chronometer for safe navigation at sea in the 18th Century and the horologist Rupert Gould becomes obsessed with restoring it in the 20th Century.
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In the eighteenth century, the only way to navigate accurately at sea was to follow a coastline all the way, which would not get you from Europe to the West Indies or the Americas. Observing the sun or stars would give you the latitude, but not the longitude unless done in conjunction with a clock that would keep time accurately at sea, and no such clock existed. After one too many maritime disasters due to navigational errors, the British Parliament set up a substantial prize for a way to find the longitude at sea. This movie's main story is that of craftsman John Harrison (Sir Michael Gambon). He built a clock that would do the job, what we would now call a marine chronometer. But the Board of Longitude was biased against this approach and claiming the prize was no simple matter. Told in parallel is the twentieth century story of Rupert Gould (Jeremy Irons), for whom the restoration of Harrison's clocks to working order became first a hobby, then an obsession that threatened to ...
Jonathan Betts, who was Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, served as a consultant to the production. He gave writer/director Charles Sturridge access to the notes and diaries of Rupert Gould, which helped flesh out the 20th century portion of the story. See more »
During the entire movie, when H1 is seen, the ticking that can be heard belongs to H3. The actual H1 and H2 tick in a rather dull way, but H3 is instantly recognizable, which is probably why its sound was used for H1 and H2 too. H4 appears to use the correct sound. See more »
Despite its feared four-hour length (including commercials as shown on A&E), "Longitude" gets my top rating. Totally engrossing, with absolutely no false or phony notes. Acting, photography superlative.
(Available on home video without commercials and with additional footage.)
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