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.
Based on Captain James Cook's three voyages. It was on his first voyage, in 1770 (while in the South Pacific region to observe the transit of Venus), that Captain Cook discovered the east ... See full summary »
When Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne, her (male) advisers know she has to marry. Doesn't she? Thus starts a decades-long political/ matrimonial game, during an age of high passions and high achievement.
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
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 »
Mr. Harrison! Summer and winter... how is it done? How is it done, the compensation?
I use a pendulum of different metals that work against each other.
Impossible. Doesn't work. I've tried it.
It is possible. It does work. I've built it.
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I'm a great fan of British filmmaking. As an American who's lived in the UK most of his life, I've had the plesure of being exposed to British cinema. In no small way is this through British television.
Logitude is another in a long line of excellent British films that have not received the viewership they deserve. I watched this film on Channel 4 shortly after the new year. And I admit, all the hype over this film in the previous weeks was justified. Accute performances on Gambon's John Harrison as well as Iron's part, of whom mind I must admit I am no fan, plus the usual assortment of marvelous west end stage performers in particular John Wood as Edmund Halley proclaim Longitude as excellent entertainment.
The story was, on the other hand somewhat mellowed down and excessively lengthed. Yet I suppose in order to transpire the scientific details presented in the novel, length was required. But overall it is a great recount of history and I strongly recommend it to American audiences who won't find this sort of thing at home easily.
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