Watch The Dig
- 1 hr 52 min
The Dig is a 2021 British drama film based on the 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston. Directed by Simon Stone, the film stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, and Lily James in lead roles with Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott, and Monica Dolan in supporting roles. The film is set in 1939 at the onset of World War II in rural Suffolk, England, and revolves around a wealthy widow, Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan), who hires a local self-taught archaeologist, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), to excavate the burial mounds on her estate. Though initially excited by the prospect of discovering ancient treasures, their work takes a dramatic turn when they uncover a long-lost Anglo-Saxon ship buried beneath the mounds. The Dig is a moving portrayal of a quiet, determined man who unearths a buried treasure that could change British history forever. Ralph Fiennes delivers another powerful performance as the stoic but compassionate Basil Brown, who has spent his life studying the landscape of Suffolk and the secrets it holds. Carey Mulligan also impresses as the refined but ailing Edith Pretty, who has her own personal reasons for entrusting the excavation of her property to Basil, despite opposition from her neighbors and the British archaeological establishment. Lily James plays Peggy Piggott, a young archaeologist who arrives on the site to help Basil with the dig. Peggy is a composite character based on several real-life women who supported the excavation, and her arc in the film provides a compelling counterpoint to the male-dominated world of archaeology in the 1930s. The Dig is as much a meditation on the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of change as it is a historical drama. The looming threat of war in Europe is a constant presence throughout the film, and it is clear that the idyllic setting of the Suffolk countryside will soon be transformed by the turmoil of the coming conflict. The fragile nature of the human body is also a recurring theme, particularly in Edith's struggle with illness and Basil's own brush with death in the suffocating confines of the burial mounds. Despite these weighty themes, The Dig never feels heavy-handed or didactic. The script, by Moira Buffini, is deftly paced and sensitively rendered, allowing the performances to speak for themselves. The cinematography by Mike Eley is also stunning, capturing the haunting beauty of the Suffolk landscape and the intricate details of the excavation site. One of the standout moments of the film is the unearthing of the Anglo-Saxon ship itself. The sheer scale of the find, combined with the awe and reverence with which the characters approach it, is truly awe-inspiring. The ship, which has lain buried beneath the earth for over a thousand years, comes to represent something much greater than the sum of its parts. It is a reminder of the resilience and creativity of humanity in the face of adversity, and of the deep connection between the land and the people who shape it. In conclusion, The Dig is a beautiful and affecting film that deserves to be seen by a wide audience. It is a rare gem in the movie world, a period drama that manages to be both epic and intimate, and a tribute to the power of human curiosity and creativity. The film showcases some of the best British acting talent at the top of their game and has all the elements of a classic drama: romance, tragedy, and a race against time to uncover an ancient treasure. The Dig is a shining example of how to balance sumptuous production design with a thoughtful, character-driven story, and a reminder of the importance of preserving our shared cultural heritage.