Script Type: Feature
Genre: Historical Character-Driven Drama
Period Piece: 1700’s England (but thematically relevant in 2020)
Length: 127 pages
The story of the forty-year struggle between John Harrison, a poor, struggling, country bumpkin and genius clock maker, and Nevil Maskelyne, a royal astronomer born into wealth, who battled for the huge prize offered by Parliament for solving the mystery of Longitude.
The historical drama expands the story into the symbolic and the allegorical as it is the struggle between good working people fighting against the evils of cowardly leadership, power and ego; artist against society to accept new ideas, philosophers and scientist who have had to battle the greed and incompetence of those in power holding onto traditional ideas that no longer work, fostering limited thinking for profit, and other limitations on human and social growth, while people suffer and die.
Nevil is an untalented, but well-educated spoiled rotten brat with a huge ego, who wants to earn his own prestige, by winning the award for Longitude. He has an indifferent, arrogant wealthy aristocrat father and frivolous mother, and as a young man seeks to prove he’s worthy of their adoration.
Longitude was the missing link for Sea Captains to navigate safely through ocean voyages and without which landed ships against rocks, crashing into one another, or perishing at sea killing many and losing priceless cargo. The loss of that cargo kept entire populations in England in poverty rather than flourishing as their goods continued to be lost at sea.
But Nevil wants to hold onto the Lunar method, which rarely works while John Harrison is a compulsive creative, who cares about perfection and holds the key to unlocking this timely treasure – so that human lives, cargo, and its effect on England’s economy is opened wide, rather than suppressed. As John comes close to solving the Longitude mystery, Nevil creates obstacles to hold him off, including the murder of Johns brother and partner.
The desperation of the untalented bureaucrat trying to suppress John’s efforts, to win an award John deserves, takes them on a 40-year struggle ending on the raging sea under the leadership of Captain Hook! But Nevil, now older and more desperate than ever, once again attempts to sabotage the only hope society has to rise above this perilous time of darkness to prop up his undeserving name.
The two encounter one another on the slippery deck of Captain Hooks ship on John Harrison’s final clock invention test, surrounded by many important witnesses. But as Nevil tries to destroy the clock the night before the test, John catches him under a torrent of rain and high seas, and the two men clash almost to the death, until Nevil’s ego is crushed by the truth. He succumbs to his disastrous quest that has suppressed, and killed so many. John Harrison rises to win the award earned through his life-long struggle, and England’s citizens rise above the struggles of their poverty because of it.
Timekeeper gives witness to the great struggle of modern cultures whereby special interests often destroy the common good, where mediocrity is adored over greatness, and money supersedes human value. It is the story of the Trump Administration, and so many other examples of wealth and power, given the opportunity to lift and create wondrous possibilities and instead create suffering, death and pursue holding onto that which does not work for the masses, but lines the pockets of a few while stroking superficial egos, and mindlessness in the wake of its path.
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