"A Moving Period Piece with Some Questionable Elements"
What You Need To Know:
Set in 1939, THE DIG focuses on Basil Brown, an amateur archaeologist who works for Ipswich Museum on England’s eastern coast. Basil is hired by a wealthy, widowed landowner, Edith Pretty, to excavate the apparent funeral mounds on her large estate. Basil makes an incredible discovery when he uncovers an artifact-laden, royal burial ship from the Sixth Century. However, as World War II approaches, Basil gets pushed to the side when national experts from the British Museum arrive. Meanwhile, Edith, who has a cute young son, finds out she has a heart condition that could be fatal.
On Netflix, THE DIG is a moving, superbly acted, immaculately produced drama about Britain’s greatest archaeological find to date. THE DIG has a light Christian, moral worldview. It contains a few biblical references and celebrates motherhood, the preservation of history and British patriotism during the onset of World War II. However, the movie’s positive content is marred by foul language and immoral, occult and homosexual behavior and content. Also, some biographical facts have been changed to make the movie more dramatic. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE DIG.
Set in 1939, THE DIG depicts the astounding discovery by amateur archaeologist Basil Brown and landowner Edith Pretty of a treasure trove of Sixth and Seventh Century Anglo-Saxon artifacts on Edith’s large estate in Eastern England. Streaming on Netflix, THE DIG is a moving, superbly acted, immaculately produced period drama that contains a few biblical references and celebrates motherhood, the preservation of history and British patriotism, but it’s marred by some foul language and immoral, occult and homosexual behavior, content and references.
The movie starts as Basil Brown, a middle-aged amateur archeologist, arrives at Edith Pretty’s estate in 1939. Edith lives with her son Robert due to the fact that her husband and father have passed away. Edith also suffers with chronic heart pain but doesn’t know the specific cause for her illness. However, as Edith becomes more and more ill, she decides to finally excavate the possible burial mounds on her property. Edith and her husband always dreamed about digging up the mounds at the estate, but he passed away before they had the chance. She invites Basil, an employee at the local Ipswich Museum, to work on the mounds.
Basil insists on being paid generously and being housed full-time with the other employees at the estate. It’s a difficult year as England is about to enter into World War II against Germany. Therefore, Basil is pressed for time to work at the estate. Edith wants Basil to dig up the biggest mound first, but he decides to wait and work on the surrounding smaller mounds. While he’s working on one mound, a pile of dirt falls onto Mr. Brown nearly burying him to death. Edith, Robert and the other employees help dig him out from under the dirt. After the accident, Basil has an epiphany to work on the biggest mound that Edith had suggested.
While excavating the large oval mound, Mr. Brown uncovers a ship buried in the dirt that he believes dates back to the Anglo-Saxon ages. Also, he believes the ship has been buried as a form of a grave and that more will be discovered in the mound. Mr. Brown continues to excavate the area as Edith travels to London for a doctor’s examination. The doctor informs her that her heart valves have become damaged due to rheumatic fever as a child and that her next heart attack could be fatal. While leaving London, Edith notices that many of the national monuments are being surrounded by sandbags as the country prepares for war.
A group of professional archaeologists from the British museum arrive at Edith Pretty’s estate demanding to look at the ship. They declare that the findings are of national interest and that the project should be taken over by a group of professionals. Basil is pushed to the side, and his contributions to the discovery are overlooked by the British Museum’s archaeologists. They decide he can continue to work on the project but only to clean and look after the site.
Edith’s cousin, Rory, arrives to the estate to photograph the excavating process and to look after Robert. Also, two professional architects, Peggy Piggott and Stuart Piggott join the team of archeologists. Although the pair make an excellent team of archaeologists, it becomes clear that Peggy and Stuart are unhappy in their personal relationship because Stuart is more interested in men than in Peggy.
Rain pours down on the site for hours and war planes pass in the sky. The team decides that the project must be completed urgently and decide to add back Basil as an excavator. Peggy makes a remarkable discovery when she finds jewelry in the ground. Jewelry, armor and metals are uncovered in the soil. Edith decides to hide the treasures in her house, because hiding them in British museums is too risky what with another world war on the horizon.
Edith throws a congratulatory party at her house for the team of archaeologists and gives a toast to Basil. She reassures him he will receive credit for his discovery at the British museum. Peggy and Stuart decide to terminate their relationship at the party, and Peggy enters a romantic relationship with Rory. Eventually, Edith falls very ill. So, the question becomes, what will happen to her and Basil’s legacy of uncovering the richest archaeological find in England?
Based on a novel written by the Peggy Piggott’s nephew, THE DIG is a moving, superbly acted, immaculately produced period drama about the historical background behind the discovery of Britain’s greatest archeological treasure. The movie contains an excellent plotline that ties in the relevancy of World War II during the era. THE DIG makes viewers feel like they’re living in the late 1930s. Every detail is meticulously crafted. Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan make quite the duo playing the characters of Basil Brown and Edith Pretty. A beautiful scene toward the end between Edith and her son is extremely touching. The final text on the screen says that Basil wasn’t given credit for his contribution until very recently. While this information is bittersweet, it’s nice that people are finally acknowledging his contribution. Basil was dedicated to preserving history for future generations, as was Edith.
THE DIG has a light Christian, moral, patriotic worldview. It contains a few biblical references and celebrates motherhood, the preservation of history, and British patriotism at the onset of World War II. Edith Pretty takes care of her son despite her ill health. Basil tells her that no one really dies. There are references to the New Testament. Also, Britain’s Prime Minister says, “May God bless us all,” as Great Britain goes to war with Hitler’s Germany over Poland. However, the movie’s positive content is marred by some foul language and pagan, occult and homosexual behavior, content and references. Some of these elements are very brief or understated. Also, the romantic subplot involving Peggy, the female archaeologist, and Edith’s cousin, a fictional character, is added. Furthermore, the ages of three real characters, including Edith and Peggy’s husband, are changed to match the ages of the actors. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE DIG.