The Dig is (mostly) a true story set in Southeast Suffolk, England–a setting so charming and beautiful that it has now become a Post Covid travel fantasy for me. At its center is the story surrounding the excavation of a 7th Century Anglo Saxon ship, a treasure trove of art, jewelry, trinkets. The year is 1939, just before England declared war on Germany. I don’t provide a spoiler alert because the excavation at Sutton Hoos is known to most British schoolchildren, and we see it quite early in the film. In fact, while there is some buildup to the discovery, it appeared so soon I wondered what the rest of the film could be about. The acting is terrific (Ralph Fiennes is actually from Ipswich). There are tensions : the impending war, class divisions , bad weather, and as post screening research revealed, a fictional love story. But this is not a plot-driven film. It is a meditation on temporality and perpetuity. Metaphors abound, but not at all heavy handed; in fact, I don’t think I pieced together the subtleties until I began to write about The Dig and wonder why it affected me so profoundly. If you are looking for an action-packed thriller, this is not the movie for you. There is violence– but only in the foreshadowing of a tragic war that would kill nearly half a million people in Britain alone. Yet another movie worthy of discussion–there is so much to talk about–please post!
Just saw “The Dig” last night as well. I especially liked that I had just finished reading “The Splendid and the Vile”; the scene of the German war planes flying over the 7th century ship “remains” just unearthed was a deeply sad moment. Ralph Fiennes wonderful, as usual. Love that you saw it last night as well.