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4.4 out of 5 stars46
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 29 October 2008
I loved this film. It is beautiful and visually striking, from the opening scence set atop an African mountain, to the contrasting scenes set in Zurich, Berlin and Cambridge. Set admist the turmoil of the great war, a story is told, not just of the greatest scientific discovery of our time, but also of human loss, love, humanity and courage. I admire the writer and director for their ability to put so much into a fairly short film, and especially for setting Einstein's work into the appalling political context of this time so clearly. The film is pacey and engaging throughout. The acting from the whole cast is great. Andy Serkis is very believable as the rebellious, wild and unpredictable Einstein. Tennant demonstrates his versitility with the quietly heroic, if repressed, Eddington. His performance is highly engaging, and he fully portrays the scientist's love for his work. This film should please anyone who enjoys historical drama, is interested in science, or who just likes a good story well told.
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Every now and then something comes along that makes you sit up and take note, and this drama is definitely that. It seems difficult nowadays to imagine a world that didn't know Einstein's theories, and to be honest to most people it doesn't make that much of a difference, after all we had electricity, telephones and other things before this came along.

Until Einstein came along Newton was taken as to have been the epitome of certain branches of science and there was only observation and measurements left to be taken. For Einstein to say that there is something more was quite a brave action to take, and not until the First World War broke out was he taken to be serious. Tricked back to Germany in a propaganda coup the Germans thought they could use him, but they soon found their mistake.

In Cambridge, England Arthur Eddington was told to look at Einstein's work to prove that it was wrong, after all British science had to be better than German science, we had Newton. What Eddington saw was a possibly new theory of gravity. So whilst war ravages throughout Europe Eddington writes to Einstein, can he answer why Newton has always been slightly wrong about the orbit of Mercury? Einstein employs the help of Max Planck to do the maths, but Planck isn't pleased when the answer is being sent to England.

What Eddington and Einstein did could be very dangerous, after all it's tantamount to consorting with the enemy. But both men want an answer, Einstein to work out his theory properly, and Eddington to see if it is correct. With turmoil in both their lives and a war going on what these two did was something of a higher and nobler order, working at an academic level to prove or not whether Newton's law of gravity is completely correct.

Einstein gave his computations to the British Eddington who then managed by subterfuge to obtain funding to see whether the theory was correct. Not until 1919 and an eclipse in Africa were conditions right to prove or disprove Einstein. Eddington ddecided that the results should be shown publicly so that all were free to know. What he conclusively proved was that Einstein was correct, much to the chagrin of some. Einstein literally became famous over night and has righly remained so ever since.

Brilliantly acted by David Tennant as Eddington, and Andy Serkis as Einstein, this drama is excellently brought to life. All the acting is good with a solid supporting cast, and a superb script by Peter Moffat. This drama really brings to life the fact that science is a universal effort, and wars shouldn't get in the way of trying to discover the truth. Although Eddington is almost forgotten today this drama shows what a great man he really was. He was prepared to accept and prove that what was the general belief was wrong, and also to question his own faith, as a Quaker. People like Eddington should never be forgotten. Einstein gave us his General Theory of Relativity, but it was Eddington who undisputably proved it, and paved the way for further research.

Don't be put off by he subject, the proposal for gravity positted by Einstein is shown quite clearly and simply, so that a child will find it easy. As I said before, something special comes along only once in a while, and believe me this drama is very special.
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on 30 October 2008
I though this film was excellent. I was concerned before the screening about the quantity and quality of the science but they did a good job. There are numerous wonderful scenes of Einstein explaining bits of his work to his sons so children watching will also understand. They gave Eddington one of Einstein's famous demonstrations to use in explaining it to his sister and his friend.

You see how the work of both men was influenced by their families and their beliefs. Both stood up for what they thought was right when their countries were at war. The film showed the difficulties presented to each by the internal emotional conflict due to the war and the deaths it caused. Also both faced conflict with colleagues because of their pacifist views and these points were well illustrated in the film. I think the scenes with Eddington and a German family are particularly good both in acting and the film presentation.
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on 12 June 2009
This story turns on a critical historical event; without Arthur Eddington, it is quite possible that Albert Einstein's theories would have been ground into the dusts of obscurity by the juggernaut of mainstream academic belief systems, wartime politics, racism and the list goes on. It is a story of moral heroism, of persistence and of great triumphs set in the bloodthirsty insanity of the first World War.

The acting is blissful. Andy Serkis as Einstein inhabits the role with a vibrant intensity that is engaging and electrifying; if you are an American, his performance is worth the purchase of a region-free DVD player (they've become more reasonable and more capable than you may remember). David Tennant's Eddington is drawn with the pristine clarity that is becoming a hallmark of his work; haunting and riveting in the same breathless space. Together (though they actually share the screen for only a moment) they are outstanding.

I am not quite as happy with the script ... or is it the editing? There is so much story to tell and such limited space to tell it. These are fully drawn characters, set in some of the most emotionally charged years in history. Their lives are impacted by WWI, their needs, their desires and their lust for the truth of the universe that lies so tantalizingly near, yet so far away. Perhaps my problem is not with the gifted Peter Moffat but with the gods of the producing universe who decree that an audience attention span rarely exceeds 90 minutes. A full two hours or more to build and shape this story would have been more than welcome.
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on 22 November 2008
The academic and situational historical relationship between the inspired genius and the conscientious 'best measurer in England' was just waiting to be given this sort of treatment. Every sort of ingredient a writer of fiction could ask for was there to be taken and used.
Eddington has always been described as the first man in England to understand Einstein and this film shows his struggle to get his ideas taken seriously at a time when, during the First World War, German science was a dirty word. As a Quaker and a pacifist Eddington is shown as an objective and progressive scientist who serves only the truth and the advancement of science. This brings him up against the resistance of the Cambridge scientific community who are supporters of the war, and hostile to Einstein who was regarded as a German, since he was working at the University of Berlin (though he had renounced citizenship and regarded himself as belonging to no nation). In Berlin, heavily committed to the German war effort, they are developing poison gas which is soon used at Ypres with devastating effect.
Einstein for his part is being put under pressure to support the war and put his signature to a list of German scientists, but wants none of it and so his funding is cut off and he is banned from the University. In the film he gets the full romantic genius treatment and comes across as the Einstein legend would have us expect. Don't worry it's very convincing and the idiosyncrasies and anecdotes are based on facts. The arts too are not left out, as much is made of his love of music (Mozart and Schubert, not Beethoven or Wagner unfortunately). Serkis as ever is excellent.
But the most moving thing about this story is the way it shows how Eddington's interest in Einstein's work led him to carry out, against all the opposition, the experimental field work in astronomy that led to the verification of General Relativity. What will come as a surprise to most people is just how much the genius needed the professional and this film should go a long way to give Eddington the popular recognition he deserves. As Eddington, Tennant gives the best performance I have ever seen from him.
The re-creation of time and place as we go back and forth between Berlin and Cambridge is very well done.
Moving and important. Highly recommended.
If you're interested it deals sympathetically with Eddington's religious views and the place of, shall we say, metaphysics in science, but not so that you can't set it aside if you want to.
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on 18 December 2008
This is one of my favourite films. It may not be wholly accurate, but it is a wonderfully accessible tale of two remarkable men and how the outcome of their work resulted in a radical shift in the way in which we view our extraordinarily beautiful and complex universe. Tennant gives his finest performance as Eddington and Serkis brings Einstein to life as the fascinating and complext person he probably was - an 'eccentric' individual gifted with a wonderful insight and typical human failings.

The film also portrays the supportive and crucial role of the women in these mens' lives.

All in all, a fantastic tale and I am so glad it is out on DVD in time for the International Year for Astronomy in 2009.
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on 23 November 2008
I really enjoyed this film having watched it on TV, having an interest in science and the biographies of brilliant scientists of the past this film provides a fascinating window into the lives of these 2 men, eddington a man few it seems have heard of who promoted the work of einstein though pretty much fading into obscurity himself...the exact accuracy of this film is of course debatable but film-makers often feel at liberty to take 'artistic license' it is nonetheless intriguing and for the most part (I believe) accurate....
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on 25 November 2008
By far the best thing I have watched on television for a long time. I knew very little about Arthur Eddington and not much about Einstein beyond what every knows. I have read since watching that there were some historical inaccuracies and dramatic licence taken but hopefully that should not detract from anyone's enjoyment of a beautifully shot film, enriched by a thought provoking script and brilliant performances. David Tennant and Andy Serkis are perfect as two extremely different but principled and courageous men of science, and in Eddington's case, of faith. It was a surprisingly moving and meditative experience. I would recommend it whole-heartedly.
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on 11 August 2009
This is fabulously well done. A kind of Chariots of Fire for science. Tennant is a much better Dr here than ever he was in Dr Who: Both he and Andy Serkis (Gollum) are perfectly cast. I feared in the opening minutes they were going to try an dumb down Einstein to make him "accessible", but no: He's here is all his magnificence, emotional, as well as mental.

Suspenseful and sophisticated, the skilled writing and direction do a grant job of showing, too quote Blake, "the world in a grain of sand, and eternity in an hour". This story, and once personal and universal, takes us from Africa and transit of Venus, to England at her green and pleasant best, the tragedy of Europe's "civil war", Jewish history in Germany, Germans in England, and the dawning of the 20th C. Eddington's honour and grace ("The pursuit of truth in science transcends national boundaries. It takes us beyond anger and hatred and fear. It is the best of us."), Einstein's playfullness, humanity, and stunning intellectual breakthrough, Lodges dogmatism - doggedly defending Newton and the aether - his patriotism, the Jewish Haber, working on chlorine gas for the fatherland - a story in its own right... So much more.

The ensemble cast let their character's character shine through (what a great story that has Fritz Haber, Max Plank, and Oliver Lodge as co-stars!)

Buy the DVD for a great opportunity to think, feel, and simply to revel!
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on 7 September 2010
This is a really wonderful film about two fascinating characters. If the story was complete fiction it would still be a good film but the fact that it's real is what makes it really great.

It gave me a great insight into the young Einstein (and his good friend and quantum physicist, Max Planck) as well as Arthur Eddington who I'd never heard of before. A bit of research afterwards (Wikipedia) revealed that whilst he might not have been in Einstein's league he was still a genius and is known as the founder of Astrophysics. He was one of the first people in the English speaking world to understand Einstein's theories and was apparently a household name in the inter war period.

The film covers a six year period from WW1 onwards leading up to their inevitable meeting a year after Eddington had published his findings which were the first to prove Einstein's theory about gravity. This film is definitely not about physics or relativity and personally I'd like there to have been a little bit about these in the film. Nevertheless I did come away with a much better idea about Einstein's notion of curved space after watching.

The film also gave insight into the war too, such as the German's use of poisonous gas, Quaker pacifism and the general period. But most of all it's about two great men and it's tale that's told in a sensitive and moving way.
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