The Dig Poster

The Dig (2021)

Biography | History 
Rayting:   7.2/10 44423 votes
Country: UK
Language: English

An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938.

Movie Trailer

User Reviews

anisen-undefined 30 January 2021

Honestly, I landed on the film last night, browsing titles on Netflix, because of Lily James - having known nothing else about the film from before (I usually skip trailers these days), but that she was in the cast was a huge draw for me - and found immense pleasure in this gem of a film. From Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes to Ben Chaplin and Archie Barnes, the performances are all first-rate. The real-life story is told with great finesse, and filmed earnestly with a keen eye for production details. I have to say, even some of the lesser moments from the film shall stay with me for long, its appeal is that strong.

themadmovieman 30 January 2021

An intriguing little piece of British history, The Dig tells a slow-burning story with understated and genuine drama throughout, turning what could have been a rather dry tale of archaeology into a genuinely gripping character drama. Its historical context takes a little while to become fully relevant, but ultimately, The Dig really proves itself as a captivating watch.

One of the things that I really liked about The Dig was its patience. Never dragging yet never rushing, the film takes its time to build up all of its main strengths, from its characters, their emotional back stories, and the overarching historical context of the outbreak of World War II.

Complete with elegant camerawork, a beautiful score and impressively atmospheric direction that makes it an eye-catching watch from the first few moments, The Dig has enough confidence and depth to keep you engrossed even if its story isn't advancing apace, something that's a lot harder to pull off than you may think.

One of the big reasons that the film's patient pacing and style work so well is because of its understated, genuine drama. With calm yet fully convincing performances across the board, particularly from Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, this isn't a showy period drama by any means, but eases you into a story about real people, making them the centre of attention far more than the historical significance of the event.

I'm not particularly well-versed in archaeology, and I didn't know about this discovery before watching this film. I think that might be the case for many other people, but the great thing about The Dig is that it's primarily a character-driven drama, and one that uses emotional intrigue to bring you closer to the story at hand and allow you to appreciate its importance.

One element where the film does seem to falter is in its use of the historical backdrop of the lead-up to World War II. Set in the summer months of 1939 before the outbreak of war, there are sporadic references to the coming conflict through the first two acts of the movie, but they don't seem to bear much relevance to this story about an archaeological find.

However, the film slowly begins to unveil how the historical context plays into its characters' personal lives and the fate of the dig itself, with dramatic focus shifting significantly in the final act, but just at the right point that the sudden arrival of the war into everyday life feels just like what it would have been like to experience it first-hand, taking over everything seemingly normal in an instant.

As a result, while the historical backdrop seems almost contrived at first, it really comes good as the film progresses, another demonstration of how the patience of The Dig really plays into its hands throughout.

yusufpiskin 29 January 2021

There are so many really good things about this movie, such a great piece of story telling. The cast is excellent and all put in great performances, especially Lily James and Ralph Fiennes. It's not just about an archaeological dig though, it's about past lives, present lives and how things are remembered in the future. There are also several strands to the relationships between all invloved too, including working relationships, family relationships, class and secret relationships. I don't know how much of the story is fiction or fact but it is well told either way. All this set with a backdrop of the coming second world war. I am lucky enough to have seen the Sutton Hoo treasures at the British Museum and have always been keenly interested in archeology so this film based on the true story of this discovery was right up my street.

ceyda1811 29 January 2021

There is a lot I can say about this film, but I'll keep it short. If you love simple stories being told in a beautiful and clear manner, and if you like Archaeology, then this is the film for you. All of the actors have done a wonderful job.

Instant_Palmer 29 January 2021

'The Dig' is a beautifully photographed period film (circa 1939, Suffolk, Great Britain), and is a lock to garner first Oscars for Ralph Fiennes (*overdue) and Cinematographer Mike Eley (the film now resides high up on my all-time best film photography list) - Bravo Mr. Fiennes and Mr. Eley👏👏.

Metaphors supporting Themes abound in 'The Dig' - "life is fleeting", "the search for meaning in our lives", "our relevance in History", and "is this all there is". Classic themes for dramas that are the eternal questions within our lives. The film intertwines those themes within the central characters, each conducting their own search for answers.

The framework of the story occurs on the eve of WWII for Great Britain. The impending gravity of such hovers over the film, intensifying the characters' emotions and urgency in searching for answers to such questions - the telescope and magnifying glass used within the story serve as metaphors to that end. Collapsing walls of the dig site that almost takes Basil Brown's life illustrate the tenuous fragility of life which could end in a moment of randomness. There are many more such examples in 'The Dig'.

Such poetic filmmaking takes painstaking attention to detail in production to pull off at the level achieved in this film - Stone and Eley succeed in elevating the film to the highest levels of film art.

This is without question the Best Picture of the Year, and I am thankful this beautiful film came in at the last possible minute to save an otherwise (and understandable) blah year in the film industry.

Director Simon Stone's Oscar nomination for both Director and Best Picture is a virtual certainty.

Ralph Fiennes never misses (except taking home an Oscar), but will FINALLY* be recognized by Academy members en masse for his best of the year acting in this film - you can take that Oscar win prediction to the bank along with Eley's for Cinematography.

Carey Mulligan will be nominated, as she delivers a very good performance (as usual).

Add Adapted Screenplay and Editing to the highly likely to be nominated list.

At the end of the night (Oscar night), 'The Dig' could sweep up a lion's share of wins in the aforementioned major Oscar categories for 2020 - I certainly wouldn't bet against it happening (the film's music score is a contender as well).

While the ensemble cast is highly competent, I don't see a particular supporting role having enough "spotlight momentum" to break-out and win an Oscar, although Lily James has a shot. The SAG Awards is likely to recognize the cast of 'The Dig' as an "ensemble" however (with competition from 'Our Friend'), but such an award does not exist in the Oscars. Note that SAG eligibility is extended to February 28 this year.

👍👍 to all involved in 'The Dig' - what is sure to be an all time classic, and highly likely to move onto my All-Time Top 100 list (I let movies sit for a year and see them at least 3 times before they can make that list).

* Ralph Fiennes sits atop my IMDb list of 'Best Actors Without An Oscar'

robertasmith 29 January 2021

So rare to watch a wonderfully gentle but poignant film. It tugs at the emotions as it tells a largely true. Some liberties are taken with the truth but largely accurate. The real story of Peggy Piggott is fascinating and worth a film in itself. However the real stars of the story are Edith Pretty and Basil Brown portrayed brilliantly by Mulligan and Fiennes. One small criticism is that Carey Mulligan is too young for the part but she carries it off superbly and the performance by Ralph Fiennes is one of the best I have seen in a long time. The whole cast is superb and the backdrop of imminent war is ever present throughout the film. I have visited Sutton Hoo a number of times and studied the excavation and I still marvel at the work Basil Brown did. As an archaeologist myself I can say his work even by today's standards was of the highest order. Many of the academic archaeologists before and after WW2 were useless when it came to excavation and recording it. Basil Brown did everything right and it is fantastic he is at last getting the credit he deserved and that Edith Pretty wanted for him. It is to the great shame of the academic establishment it has taken so long. The film portrays this extremely well.

carolinejgarnett 29 January 2021

A very moving poignant film. Interesting story, but it explored many themes and some subtle undertones going on. We enjoyed it all the way through.

johnbirch-2 29 January 2021

This is a superb film that I could watch again and again.

I've been to see the Sutton Hoo treasures many times and have seen the story told on TV from Blue Peter to Horizon so I was looking forward to this... but also slightly worried about it. Films on subjects like this can be either dry or trivial or triumphalist or worthy or just bad.

But from the first scenes this film is beautiful. These is no other word. The outdoor scenes (and much of it is outdoors) is just breathtakingly gorgeous at times. This is Suffolk and wow does it look good. If anyone has seen the BBC series "The Detectorists" they will get the idea. It captures the big skies of East Anglia so well, sun through the early morning mists, or even after the rain like works of art. The stage on which the action is set is sumptuous.

As for the action - its just so good. Almost dreamlike at times - I found myself thinking of "The Go-Between" (also set in Suffolk, of course!) with dialogue over the top of action that is not taking place at quite the same time. Hard to describe, but its like memories.

Some of the film is a shade predictable - the small enthusiast verses the big guy, the mismatched couple and a possible tragic love story, the child's eye view at times, the repressed sexuality of the period - it's all there. But it is so well done.

The only downside is that this film - this photography - deserves the big screen, but most people will now see it on the small. This is such a shame. Its deserved so much more.

ronmoonen 29 January 2021

An unbelievable find on the brink of war. A look into the ancient history of Britain. But the movie is really about the lives of the normal people who discover it's secrets. Great acting from the main characters. Especially Fiennes shows us how versatile he really is. Great watch.

miclarke 1 February 2021

Some nice performances here and the set-up for a great narrative about archaeology in pre-war Britain and the role that regular citizens played in scientific exploration, but something goes awry along the way. The second half of the film focuses on several plotlines that simply did not even exist in the first half of the movie. Something was clearly done here after the first draft of the screenplay. Were sections cut? Were characters added to "spice it up"? We may never know, but the final product feels awkward though it's no fault of the cast here.

robinalers 29 January 2021

Ralph Fiennes plays the character beautifully and carries the movie for the first half. Alas, not enough to make it interesting.

While the start is promising and portrays Basil's (Ralph Fiennes) passion and great work, halfway through the movie the storyline just switches. What started as an ode to Basil's work, the importance of the find and Mrs. Pretty's trust, quickly turned into a story a love story about two characters we hardly care about. Suddenly, Basil is nothing more than a sidelined character who's just kind of "there". Like the makers of the movie just decided to make a completely different film halfway through.

I feel the movie does little more justice to acknowledge Basil's work than history has done by not acknowledging it. His importance and find have been overshadowed by a random love story we've all seen before in many other movies and to have sidelined the archeological find and Basil's importance for some cheap love story, feels wrong.

Movie Scene

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