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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.

Director:

Charles Sturridge

Writers:

Dava Sobel (book), Charles Sturridge
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7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jonathan Coy ... Adm. Sir Cloudsley Shovell
Christopher Hodsol Christopher Hodsol ... Capt. Ainsley
Jeremy Irons ... Rupert Gould
Peter Cartwright ... Army Doctor
Gemma Jones ... Elizabeth Harrison
John Nettleton ... Minister for the Navy
Michael Gambon ... John Harrison
Nigel Davenport ... Sir Charles Pelham
Liam Jennings Liam Jennings ... Young William Harrison
Anna Chancellor ... Muriel Gould
Frank Finlay ... Adm. Wagner
Geoffrey Hutchings Geoffrey Hutchings ... Estate Manager
Andrew Scott ... John Campbell
John Standing ... Capt. Proctor
John Wood ... Sir Edmund Halley
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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

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 January 2000 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A hosszúsági fok See more »

Filming Locations:

Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2 parts)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The word "scientist" was not invented until 1840. In the 18th century they were still called "natural philosophers". See more »

Quotes

[on the BBC-TV show "Brains Trust"]
Rupert Gould: What makes a man great? A man may be great in his aims, or in his achievements, or in both, but I think that man is truly great who makes the world his debtor... who does something for the world which the world needs and which nobody before him has done or known how to do.
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Connections

References The Brains Trust (1955) See more »

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User Reviews

 
TV Drama at its best
7 September 2001 | by ImnozySee all my reviews

Longitude is an example of the very best in television drama. Based on a true story, meticulously acted and directed, this is the type of movie that the British do better than anyone else in the world.

The performances of the two principals, Michael Gambon and Jeremy Irons were awe inspiring, the excellent supporting cast did not let them down.

What on the surface sounds like a dry story - the search for a means of accurately determining longitude at sea - and the obsession many years later of a returned WW1 soldier with locating and restoring the devices invented for that purpose - was turned into a genuine cliffhanger by the producers. Initially I found the switching from one story to another somewhat disconcerting, but it was done so well that it soon felt quite comfortable.

This is the story of one man's lifelong trial and error search to perfect his devices and to win the prize offered for the solution to the longitude problem. Against all odds and at great damage to his health he and his son eventually succeeded. Interspersed with this is the story of another man centuries later who was determined to locate & restore the devices and to ensure their preservation for future generations.

I can really recommend this show to anyone with an enquiring mind, who enjoys a fascinating story, excellently told.


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