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Customer Review

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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