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archaeoastronomy in cinema: National Treasure (2004)

©2004 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) examines Independence Hall clock tower on $100 bill.

©2004 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Aerial shot of Independence Hall and pinnacle of clock steeple backlit by sun.

©2004 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Steeple's weathervane shadow pinpoints hidden treasure. Cage races to get it.

©2004 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Cage uses pocketknife to pry out the brick embossed with the Masonic emblem.

©2004 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Declaration of Independence now decodable with Ben Franklin's spectacles in hand.
Based on the shadow cast by the pinnacle of Independence Hall's steeple at 3:22 PM EDT, Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) pinpoints a hollowed brick on the landmark's exterior within which Ben Franklin's colored spectacles are hidden. That time of day arises from a series of clues involving a 1780's painting of the Hall engraved on the back of the hundred dollar bill with the steeple's clock reading 2:22. The hero's sidekick proudly advises Cage to offset his observation moment for daylight savings. (It's "daylight saving time" --- singular ---- by the way.) The screenplay also ignores that solar spotlighting for any particular minute of the day progressively changes throughout the year. The specification of the date upon which to view the telltale shadowplay clue should be viewed is absent in the story line. Incidentally, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing the clock reads 4:10 rather than 2:22, a reversal of the hour and minute hands.
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