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

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John Nettleton ...
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Liam Jennings ...
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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

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Drama | History

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Release Date:

2 January 2000 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A hosszúsági fok  »

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(2 parts)

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Harrison describes his clock to George Graham, and the accuracy astounds him. In reality, Harrison invented the "gridiron pendulum" (which made such accuracy possible) in 1726. However, Graham had invented the even more accurate "mercury pendulum" in 1721, so he would not have stated such accuracy "can't be done", when first meeting Harrison in 1730. See more »

Quotes

William Harrison: Would it be possible to set out more explicitly what the Board requires, so that we might be prepared for it?
Lord Morton: *No, sir -- it would not*! It is not your business, sir, to limit the inquiry of this board, but to satisfy it!
John Harrison: It is not my business, *sir*, to explain the workings of a lifetime to a group of *dog-collared university book-swallowers* who wouldn't know the difference between a *balance spring* and a *bedside pan*! The thirty years I've stood before this board, I've never once had the ...
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Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
great masterpiece
15 November 2002 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

I ran into this at late night on A&E a couple of years ago. Although I missed about 30 minutes of the beginning part, I immediately got 'glued' to TV by the casts' great performance, great story line, and its historical-correct setting.

As a side note, Sir Isaac Newton (1642--1727) was in the same era as in the time setting of the story. I wonder if Sir Isaac Newton had ever involved with this 'board of longitude' ;)


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