When his son's body is found in a humiliating accident, a lonely high school teacher inadvertently attracts an overwhelming amount of community and media attention after covering up the truth with a phony suicide note.
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
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 »
Sir Frank, I'm not asking to mechanically alter the Harrison machines; I just want to bring them back to their proper condition. If they're left as they are much longer, I fear they may become unrecoverable. I know my qualifications appear unlikely; I can only plead that they're no more so than Harrison's own.
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This film was absolutely stunning, and after watching it we were amazed at how quickly the time flew. Though the entire movie (DVD) was 200 minutes long, we felt as though it had taken less than an hour. The sets and costumes were beautiful, the acting was superb, the meshing together of the two different times worked extremely well, the "timing" was impeccable, the tension built wonderfully, and the climax was powerful. We never dreamed we would feel so strongly about a movie depicting what we originally thought would be a mundane, boring subject. We are grateful to the makers of this film for the attention to detail and the feeling they put into this movie. It came alive for us, and we now feel more appreciative toward those geniuses of former times who persevered against all odds to improve the human condition. Kudos to Michael Gambon and Jeremy Irons for their exquisite performances of complex characters, and for the depth of feeling they both portrayed.
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