An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938.
‘The Dig’ is a good old fashioned tale and the type of film that makes for perfectly pleasant Sunday afternoon viewing. It’s got a stellar British cast, a period setting in the beautiful English countryside, and a narrative that covers themes of war, romance and history – what’s not to enjoy? The film is directed by Simon Stone and it’s adapted from a 2007 novel from John Preston, itself based on the true events surrounding the excavation of Sutton Hoo, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.
We start in 1939 when Suffolk landowner Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) hires Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) a local archaeological enthusiast to excavate large burial mounds on her property, and it covers both the personal relationship that builds between the two of them, as well as the historic finds they make through the work Basil is undertaking. On paper, this probably doesn’t sound like a thrilling setup for a dramatic movie but there’s something about ‘The Dig’ that really draws you in. Partly it’s the performances, with Fiennes in particular excellent, but it’s also partly the way Stone handles different elements and how the shadow of an impending war hangs over proceedings.
There are a few missteps, namely a love triangle that seems contrived purely to give Lily James more to do, and the drama does start to loses its impetus as we approach the final act, but ‘The Dig’ is a very enjoyable drama and perfect viewing for a lazy weekend afternoon (which they all are at the moment!)
Directed By: Simon Stone
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Ben Chaplin, Johnny Flynn, Archie Barnes, Monica Dolan and Ken Stott