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Longitude (2000)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, History  |  2 January 2000 (UK)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,679 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 7 critic

Parallel stories: 18th century Harrison builds the marine chronometer for safe navigation at sea; 20th century Gould is obsessed with restoring it.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Christopher Hodsol ...
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John Nettleton ...
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Liam Jennings ...
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Geoffrey Hutchings ...
Estate Manager
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Storyline

In the 18th 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. The film's main story is that of craftsman John Harrison: 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 20th century story of Rupert Gould, for whom the restoration of Harrison's clocks to working order became first a hobby, then an obsession that threatened to wreck his life. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History

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Details

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Release Date:

2 January 2000 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A hosszúsági fok  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2 parts)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When on his sea voyage, John Harrison gives an elegant and clear explanation of longitude to the crew of the ship, and later he makes short and clear remarks to the Board of Longitude. In reality, Harrison was very well known for his inability to express himself clearly and this was one of the reasons for his problems with the Longitude Committee. See more »

Quotes

Nurse Grace Ingram: They're going to kick you out soon, you know.
Rupert Gould: Oh, they can't possibly. I'm feeling particularly mad at the moment.
Nurse Grace Ingram: I don't think they cure that kind of madness here. What will you do?
Rupert Gould: Don't know. Pitch a tent outside the gates, I suppose. Do you have any objections to life under canvas?
Nurse Grace Ingram: Not more than... a couple of thousand.
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Connections

Referenced in (500) Days of Summer (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

Great movie for its historical and scientific significance, a definite "10"!
12 July 2000 | by (Houston, Tx, USA, Earth) – See all my reviews

Dec2004 update: I did eventually buy the DVD set, and it is very nice.

"Longitude" is a towering achievement as a movie. Shown in 4 hours on A&E network, I taped it to skip the commercials and was able to watch it in just over 3 hours. I only give ratings of "10" to truly remarkable movies, and this is one. It helps to be a scientist, and to have had a life-long fascination with navigation and timepieces.

The story is historical - the British government passed an act in the early 1700s for a prize of 20,000 Pounds for the first to provide an accurate and practical means of establishing longitude at sea. A Board of Longitude,comprising self-important scientists, would judge when the challenge was met.

John Harrison, a carpenter who understood the sun's apparent movement with the Earth's rotation, figured you could do it with a very accurate clock. He, with help from his son William, did it over a period of about 50 years, and met all conditions with his 4th clock, but the board kept throwing up roadblocks to avoid giving the award to someone who was not a scientist but a mere "carpenter." Finally, when Harrison was 80, ironically in the year 1776, was given the prize by Parliament. He died only two years later.

The ancient story was interwoven with a WWII-era story of a man, played by Jeremy Irons, who undertook to restore all of Harrison's old clocks, and finally succeeded against similar resistance that Harrison had faced.

If you either are not a scientist, or do not appreciate the magnitude of Harrison's effort, and its contribution to modern navigation, then it is possible that you would find this movie somewhat boring. Do yourself a favor - don't waste your time. For me, it remains one of the absolute best movies I have ever seen, both in significance of the story and the mastery of the acting and direction.


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