In 1939, in Sutton Hoo in rural Suffolk, a widowed landowner, Edith Pretty, invited an excavator, a self-taught archaeologist and writer of many books on the subject, to dig burial mounds on her estate.
She formed an unlikely friendship with him based on respect for his craft. Basil Brown was a simple, unsung, unheroic man with a deep passion for terra firma and knowledge of the soil and what it contains within. Its secrets spoke with him and its myriad treasures revealed themselves to him. He unearthed a 7th century Anglo-Saxon ship with a burial chamber and other artefacts that proved that the Dark Ages weren’t that dark really. Though Basil only recently got credit for this find, it is hailed as “one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all time”.
Based on a true story, The Dig is ultimately about human decency and justice for that humble and erudite digger and his landowner who trusted him, saved his life and tried to shine light on him.
Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes play their parts with restraint and brilliance, and bring understated dignity to their characters.
It is a slow-burning, almost meditative watch, but rewarding in more ways than one.
Where to Watch: Netflix
By Sanjay Trehan
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