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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
The eighteenth century chronometer H4 is described as having a mechanical balance that ticks 5 times per second, however the second hand of the watch shown moves only once a second which is characteristic of a modern quartz movement. See more »
Mr. Harrison, please step forward.
"It is the finding of this Board that the watch or timepiece created by John and William Harrison did keep correct time within the greatest accuracy required by the Act of Queen Anne as drawn up by Parliament 51 years ago."
Milord, may I have a copy of those to show my father? He has waited a long time to hear your Lordship's kind words.
In good time, Mr. Harrison. Astronomer Royal, would you be kind enough to read the fifth paragraph of the ...
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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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