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 marvellous 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, Amazon.com
In 1714 Parliament offer a £20,000 prize for anyone who can provide an accurate means of measuring longitude at sea. John Harrison (Michael Gambon) flies in the face of popular opinion by saying that the stars do not provide the answer, and provides his own solution with the invention of a mechanical clock. However, it takes Harrison forty years to prove his theory, and he is eventually forgotten in the mists of time. Centuries later, Robert Gould (Jeremy Irons) attempts to restore Harrison's reputation by tracking down and repairing the four clocks he originally constructed.