Basil Brown an archaeologist begins a very important dig in Sutton Hoo in 1939 as he finds Anglo-Saxon artefacts which is on the land of Edith Pretty and will cause some controversy as different museums want to be able to show them off.
The Dig reimagines the events of the excavation of Sutton Hoo, which is near Woodbridge in Suffolk. It is a site of two early medieval cemeteries that date somewhere between the 6th and 7th century, one had an undisturbed ship burial with very wealthy artefacts. We get to witness how the discovery of these could have happened, as World War II is about to begin.
Edith Pretty is widowed and lives with her son Robert, along with different workers in their home. Basil Brown comes into their lives as part of the dig and they could never have imagined what he would uncover and the impact he would have on the family unit. Robert really took to Basil and that creates some truly lovely and fantastic scenes between the pair, acting in a father type role for the boy. The support this gives to Edith is not noticed to begin with but when he attempts to leave he realises he just can’t.
Rory Lomax is Edith’s cousin and someone she invited to help Basil although when Charles Phillips gets involved this creates a little bit of tension due to the fact he wants the artefacts for the British Museum and takes over from Basil a little bit. However when drafting in more workers including married couple Stuart and Peggy Piggott the things they were about to discover would see them all working together.
I have to admit that I never really thought that a film about a dig, or should that be the uncovering from ancient artefacts would be entertaining or even that good. However, we get a truly lovely film with some fantastic performances and good moments. It was actually exciting as they started to uncover gold and the build up to seeing what still remained was done in the best possible manner. This all linked ever so nicely with the gorgeous score by Stefan Gregory placed into each and every scene with such precision that it elevated the film.
Another truly interesting part of the film which was only quite brief was the start of the Second World War and hearing the announcement that the United Kingdom had taken part as Rory was off to join the RAF. The heartbreaking scenes with Edith and then Peggy towards this were brilliant and I am sure it happened so many times as the War began. The film doesn’t have a massive emphasis on any love stories, but we are given one as a sub-plot and I felt it coming from the first time Rory and Peggy met. It was handled with dignity considering her marriage to Stuart and we were pretty much shown that they did not work together at all.
My favourite scene had to be that of Robert cycling a very long way to try and find Basil considering he told him he would show him the stars through his telescope and this introduces May Brown into the fold, his wife who comes across rather jealous of Edith. This then shows how the innocence of a child can really change all of that as Robert removes any judgement on that part.
Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes both excel themselves in the roles of Edith and Basil, showing that they could become these forgotten figures. The accent from Fiennes was utterly fantastic, mainly because I have never felt less attracted to him as that is something I am not linking very much to his accent within certain films! No offence intended by that comment it was just something I could not help but notice as soon as the film started. Mulligan has been one of my favourite actresses for many years now and I thought she carried off this role very well. Archie Barnes is a true star in the making with his good young performance.
I really do hope people give this film a chance straight onto Netflix and would be a perfect choice for a Sunday afternoon, the only thing I am disappointed about is that this could not be a cinema Sunday afternoon film for myself.