Longitude [2000]

Director: Charles Sturridge
Stars: Michael Gambon, Christopher Hodsol, Jeremy Irons, Peter Cartwright, Gemma Jones
Genre: Drama, History
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 200 minutes

Gracefully adapted from Dava Sobel's extraordinary bestseller, the four-part TV production of Longitude combines drama, history, and science into a stimulating, painstakingly authentic account of personal triumph and joyous discovery. Equally impressive is the way writer-director Charles Sturridge has crafted parallel stories that complement each other with enriching perspective. The first story involves the successful 40-year effort of 18th-century clockmaker John Harrison (Michael Gambon) to solve the elusive problem of measuring longitude at sea. In 1714 the British Parliament had offered a generous reward to anyone who solved the problem, and Harrison devoted his life to that solution. The second story, some 200 years later, involves the effort of shell-shocked British Navy veteran Rupert Gould (Jeremy Irons) to restore the glorious clocks that Harrison had built. Like Harrison, Gould is the most admirable type of obsessive, but, also like Harrison, he risks his marriage to accomplish his difficult task. Thousands of sailors perished at sea before Harrison's triumph changed history, but Longitude demonstrates that Harrison's glory was slow to arrive--and his prize money even slower. A fascinating study of 18th-century British politics and clashing egos in the arena of science, the film is both epic and intimate in consequence, and Sturridge's magnificent script inspires Gambon and Irons to do some of the best work of their outstanding careers. The ever-reliable Ian Hart appears in Part 3 as Harrison's now-adult son and apprentice, and Longitude approaches its dramatic climax with the exhilarating tension of a first-rate thriller. Rallying after sickness to prove the integrity of their marvelous seafaring chronometers, the Harrisons still had to fight for official recognition, and Gould's restoration of the Harrison clockworks provides a fitting coda to this exceptional story about the thrill of discovery and the tenacity of remarkable men. --Jeff Shannon

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John Harrison:
It is 25 years since I first had the honor to address this board, under the chairmanship of Dr. Edmund 'Alley. And since that time I've worked with only one ambition: to satisfy your requirements as laid down by Act of Parliament, for the discovery of longitude at sea. It is with both great pride and honor, and humility, that I stand here today with my son, after his great triumph.

Dr. Bliss:
Thank you, Mr. Harrison, yes, thank you. Now. I have asked you here to inform you of the resolution of the Board: that, firstly, the *brief* calculations of Mr. William Harrison are to be sent for computation; and the instruments used in those observations are also to be sent for examination. The board will then consider these reports at a further meeting, the date of which will be announced in due course. That will be all for now, gentlemen.

John Harrison:
Sir, I am an old man, and an old man can sometimes find his senses unexpectedly weakened. There is perhaps an element of your argument that I have misunderstood, or even misheard. My watch lost... lost *one minute, 53 and a half seconds* after *81 days at sea*! As witnessed and signed in the, in the papers you have before you, which you seem so keen to put away. I have fulfilled the terms most exactly, as laid down in the Act of Queen Anne, and I demand that you consider the question of my reward.

Dr. Bliss:
Mr. Harrison, I am not a commissioner of the gaming board, here to settle some bet! I am a scientist bent on investigation of a most serious subject.

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