“The Dig” is a drama based on the true story of the excavation of the Sutton Hoo treasure. It stars some well-known names such as Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James.
Set against the backdrop of early ‘40s rural Suffolk, Edith Pretty (Mulligan) hires an archeologist, Basil Brown (Fiennes), to excavate her estate Sutton Hoo. She believes there is something of importance, being an amateur archeologist herself. As Brown begins excavating, the story slows down. We are shown that Edith has a serious illness that may be terminal.
Just when the audience believes the story will take a romantic turn, Brown makes a discovery, which introduces a slew of new characters including Rory Lomax, Edith’s cousin; Charles Phillip, an archeologist from Cambridge; and Phillip’s team, which includes a woman named Peggy Piggot (James) and her husband. A rift occurs between Basil and Phillip, with Phillip wanting full control of the operation.
The characters each take their turn in the spotlight. Through all these relationships, the focus of the film is on the excavation. The parallel focus, one on the excavation and the other on the lives of the characters, seem to create a connection between the temporariness of human lives and the recovery of memories just as with the Anglo-Saxon ship.
Overall, “The Dig” hits its mark as a lighthearted yet intellectual affair for the whole family. It is by no means a must-watch, but in the film climate of today of non-stop action spectacles and thrillers, “The Dig” provides a useful reprieve.
“The Dig” is available on Netflix.