Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan, Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott, Monica Dolan
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Netflix’s historical period drama, based on real-life events, directed by Simon Stone. As WWII looms, the story follows wealthy widow, Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan), who hires amateur archaeologist, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), to excavate the burial mounds on her estate. When they make a historic discovery, the echoes of Britain’s past resonate in the face of its uncertain future.
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Our Favorite Quotes:'We all fail. Every day. There are some things we just can't succeed at. No matter how hard we try.' - Basil Brown (The Dig) Click To Tweet 'From the first human handprint on a cave wall, we're part of something continuous. So we don't really die.' - Basil Brown (The Dig) Click To Tweet 'Life is very fleeting. I've learnt that. It has moments you should seize.' - Edith Pretty (The Dig) Click To Tweet
Edith Pretty: Should we take a look at them, then?
Basil Brown: Right. Things like this are usually done through museums.
Edith Pretty: Yes. But when I approached Ipswich, Mr. Reid Moir said that, with the war coming, they couldn’t embark upon any new ventures.
Basil Brown: Well, they have their hands full with a Roman villa.
Edith Pretty: He told me you were a difficult man.
Basil Brown: Did he, now?
Edith Pretty: Unorthodox, and untrained.
Basil Brown: So that’s his reference, is it? Well, I’m not untrained. I’ve been on dig since I was old enough to hold a trowel. My father taught me.
Basil Brown: I’ve always had a curiosity to see these here mounds. Henry the Eighth came here to dig.
Edith Pretty: So I’m told.
Basil Brown: Well, no record of what he found.
Edith Pretty: My husband and I bought this land, with the hope of exploring what was under there. But, well, best laid plans.
Edith Pretty: What are they? Would you hazard a guess?
Basil Brown: Burial mounds, I expect. We’re standing in someone’s graveyard, I reckon. Viking. Or maybe older.
Edith Pretty: Apparently, local girls used to lie down on them in the hope of falling pregnant.
Basil Brown: Well. I’ve heard plenty of legends.
Basil Brown: Is that why you want to dig, Mrs. Pretty? Tales of buried treasure?
Edith Pretty: My interest in archaeology began like yours, when I was scarcely old enough to hold a trowel. My childhood home was built on a Cistercian convent. I helped my father excavate the apse.
Basil Brown: That speaks, don’t it? The past.
Edith Pretty: [referring to where she wants him to start digging first] But I have a feeling about this one.
Basil Brown: Well, that’s your money, Mrs. Pretty. But I’d base your dig on evidence, not feeling.
Edith Pretty: Mr. Brown is an archaeologist.
Basil Brown: Well, I’m an excavator.
Robert Pretty: You’ve come to dig up the mounds?
Basil Brown: Well, I’m afraid not. Not today.
Edith Pretty: You’ll start with this one?
Basil Brown: Yeah. I reckon we can forget that larger mound, Mrs. Pretty. This one here, that’s where we’ll find something.
George Spooner: If you ask me, the man should leave Mrs. Pretty’s mounds well alone.
Guy Maynard: War is looming, and all hands are on deck to excavate before hostilities begin.
James Reid Moir: And so, we must ask you to return Mr. Brown.
Edith Pretty: I’d like him to finish what he’s started.
James Reid Moir: We may have found the largest Roman villa north of Felixstowe. It’s of far greater import, if you’ll forgive me, than this minor venture.
Edith Pretty: Then the choice is Mr. Brown’s.
James Reid Moir: We need you back at the villa. That’s what I’m here to say. And Mrs. Pretty has released you.
Edith Pretty: I have said it is your choice.
Basil Brown: Well, then I’ll stay. Thank you kindly, ma’am.
Robert Pretty: Mr. Brown’s been telling us all sorts of things. For instance, what’s the most important part of an archaeologist’s body?
Edith Pretty: I don’t know.
Robert Pretty: His nose. If there’s something there, he’ll know it by the smell.
Edith Pretty: I was reading Howard Carter’s account of his excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Basil Brown: Oh?
Edith Pretty: He stood at the threshold of the burial chamber, the first man to do so for three thousand years, and he saw finger marks still on the paint.
Basil Brown: He say, “Time lost its meaning.”
Edith Pretty: It occurs to me that you might unearth human remains.
Basil Brown: Yeah, that’s possible.
Edith Pretty: We’re digging down to meet the dead. Disinterring them, in fact.
Basil Brown: Well, there’s always coroner’s inquests when remains are found. The dead still get that courtesy, no matter how many centuries they’ve lain. We can’t dig down into the earth without considering that.
Basil Brown: [after dirt collapses on Brown] Something did come into my head.
Edith Pretty: What was it?
Basil Brown: My grandfather. I have his name. Basil Brown. Farming man. Taught me everything I know about Suffolk soil.
Edith Pretty: And you saw him?
Basil Brown: Oh, I saw nothing at all. I was just, I just thought of him.
Edith Pretty: Well, perhaps he saw you.
Basil Brown: Now this land’s been plowed for a thousand year. Now supposing whoever plowed here, gradually knocked a bit off. So by the time robbers come along, they’d have sunk the flute into what they thought was the center.
Edith Pretty: But it might not have been.
Basil Brown: That’s right. East to west, that’s my feeling. You say the word, and I’ll dig.
Robert Pretty: Did the people who made these burial mounds have mustaches?
Basil Brown: And beards. They were a very beardy lot. Not like them there Romans. Now, they liked the close shave.
Robert Pretty: The Vikings and the space pilots are the same, really, aren’t they? They explore new lands and have battles in ships.
Basil Brown: Yeah, when you put it like that, I suppose they might be the same.
Robert Pretty: Would you like to fly, Mr. Brown?
Basil Brown: Oh, but I do. All over the cosmos, every time I look through my telescope.
Basil Brown: Oh, well, that’s a ship that’s been buried in the mound.
Robert Pretty: Why would anyone want to bury a ship?
Basil Brown: Well, I expect because that’s a grave.
Robert Pretty: Whose grave?
Basil Brown: Well, I’d expect this is a grave of a great man. A warrior. Or a king.
Edith Pretty: Congratulations, Mr. Brown.
Basil Brown: Well, you thought there was something, didn’t you?
Edith Pretty: I had my feeling.
Basil Brown: That you did, Mrs. Pretty. That you did.
Edith Pretty: Mr. Reid Moir has kindly offered to take charge of the dig. I turned his generous offer down.
Basil Brown: You didn’t.
Edith Pretty: I did.
Basil Brown: What did he say?
Edith Pretty: He said I couldn’t keep it to myself, which is true.
Basil Brown: I bet he blew his gasket.
Edith Pretty: I wanted to thank you for your patience with Robert. He can hardly wait to see you in the mornings.
Basil Brown: Well, keeps me on me toes, having him around.
Edith Pretty: Do you have children?
Basil Brown: No. We, uh… No.
Edith Pretty: The servants tell me you’ve studied everything, from Latin to geology.
Basil Brown: Well, a little education is a dangerous thing.
Edith Pretty: Apparently, you’ve written a book.
Basil Brown: I have. A guide to astronomical maps and charts, to make them accessible to ordinary men. I left school when I was twelve. Always had a hunger to study.
Edith Pretty: I got a place at London University. My father wouldn’t hear of it.
May Brown: You got something to show me? I think you have. I can see it in your eyes.
Basil Brown: I’m not saying anything.
Basil Brown: A man could dig the earth his whole life through and not find anything like I’ve discovered here.
May Brown: [to Brown] Everyone’s going to want a piece of this here ship, and this is your find.
May Brown: [to Brown] Your heart’s lost to this Viking maiden, I can tell. Ain’t it?
May Brown: I do miss you. I’ve been reading your books for company.
Basil Brown: You haven’t.
May Brown: I have.
Basil Brown: Hell, it’s not much company, is it?
May Brown: No, they’re hard work, I tell you.
Basil Brown: They are.
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