Cast: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin and Ken Stott
Directed by Simon Stone
Written by Moira Buffini and John Preston
Not too far from Active Spectator Headquarters, a great Anglo Saxon burial site was discovered in 1939 by archaeologist Basil Brown and the landowner Edith Pretty. 2021’s Netflix release, ‘The Dig’, looks to tell the story of the find, and the people who worked to unveil the treasures hidden beneath the ground.
‘The Dig’ is a really beautiful film, with the flat Suffolk landscape creating the perfect backdrop for the outdoor labour undertaken by the characters. Whether a darker tinge floods the sky, or the glow of a sunset lights a scene, the film captures these moments really well and creates some visually stunning moments. Furthermore, the pre-war costumes and set design works both accurately within the context of the period, whilst also becoming another interesting aesthetic detail within ‘The Dig’.
At the heart of this story is the actions of Ralph Fiennes’ Basil Brown, as he tries to do what he believes is right after making such a grand discovery. The idea that future generations have a right to know what the lives of their ancestors was like is a recurring theme throughout the film, and is perhaps no better explored than by Fiennes’s character. Furthermore, the actors efforts to accurately pull off a Suffolk accent went as far as learning from those in the local community, and that type of detail comes through really clearly within his character.
Overall, the acting is great from the whole cast, but Carey Mulligan stands out in particular as delivering one of the best performances. Her role as the mother of a young child and someone dealing with a recent loss creates a conflict which divides her character, and highlights how important this particular discovery is, as well as the way in which we individually can influence history and create a legacy.
‘The Dig’ is a fairly simple and easy to follow story, but the messages it explores and the way it presents them to the audience makes it stand out as a particular highlight for the start of this year. Through the performances, cinematography and dialogue, Simon Stone creates a film which lulls you into its environment and characters, and delivers some interesting ideas and themes whilst you’re there.