The Dig — What Lies at the Heart of Britain

REVIEW
by Anastasia Ageeva
27.02.2021
The Dig (2021) by Simon Stone tells the story which is around 100 years old, but still not as old as the one excavated by archaeologists in it. Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a self-taught researcher of antiquity, comes to Suffolk at the request of Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan). Women's intuition, as we know, is very strong. The only question is in what area this time. The landlady not only insists on digging in one specific place, but also assures Brown that there is a sense behind her blind confidence. Finally, it works and the archaeologist also has an insight. The viewer is amazed by this feeling from the discovery of an ancient treasure in English soil in the times close to modernity.
The film turns out to be outside the framework of stories similar to it in the plot. Indiana Jones (1981-2008), National Treasures (2004-2007), and other films about finding age-old secrets differ in mood. Unlike this, in The Dig, truly great reality is shown without pathos, loud words or a route full of danger (although there is a couple of terrifying moments). Not being a box office hit or even a mainstream film, it still lacks the depths. Of course, there are reflections on the existence of the human race at all and narrower issues like the ownership of history and class inequality. But they are so vague, although they are discussed by the characters, that the viewer is doomed to independent development of thought. Still the tempo and rhythm of the film are addictive. Lots of eye-catching shots with an oncoming camera give the viewer that very Aronofsky sense of being God.
Despite the fact that the characters are full of emotions — from discovery, unexpected bad news and newfound love — the actors seem to be deliberately portraying robots. Not entirely the way we used to see or imagine them, but facial expressions are minimized. So, we learn about their inner experiences through their actions.
Most likely, this is the influence of a theater director in charge of the film. Simon Stone created four films before The Dig with the debut only 5 years ago in Toronto with The Daughter — a play by Norwegian Henrik Ibsen shot against the backdrop of the rural landscapes of Australia. And while critics have different opinions about the acting, most of them say this film "demonstrates both the staying power of classic material and the risks inherent in bringing it up to date".

One of the features of Stone as a theater director is the ability to turn the story, artistic or real, into something different from the original and yet broadcasting all the nuances embedded in it. In addition, he belongs to the direction of theatrical figures who look at the past through the prism of the present day — a trend that came, for example, to Russia only in the last 10 years, but has long been actively developed in countries outside. And Simon Stone is right in the middle of the action — in 2007, he founded The Hayloft Company, where he directed his own adaptations of such classic dramatic texts as Platonov by Chekhov, Tiesta by Seneca, Awakening of Spring by Wedekind, and Little Eyolf by Ibsen.

Stone's actors on screen show sensitivity differently. When there is a ghostly hope that the widow Edith will see in Brown the person she desperately needs, because they get along perfectly, the truth falls upon us. He is married, and her fate is already a foregone conclusion, but in a completely different way. A novel by journalist and author John Preston was adapted by screenwriter Moira Buffini who is known for Jane Eyre (2011) and Byzantium (2012). Perhaps unintentionally, Stone and Buffini divide the film in two parts, in a theater style. Basil Brown from the central character gradually turns into just one of many. And yet Fiennes's acting talent allows him not to get lost while a love line develops and business issues are resolved between representatives of museums in the foreground.
The drama in The Dig is complemented not exactly by the process of agreements with museums and a love story, but by the Second World War approaching. It remains in the background, but for some reason, in several places, represents a more important event than the excavation itself. The last melodramatic scenes perfectly reflect the feeling of humanity on the verge of mutual destruction of nations — in the arms of loved ones, taking care of them, staying together in the remaining time before the disaster. And all that these people care about is memory.
 
The Dig — What Lies at the Heart of Britain
REVIEW
by Anastasia Ageeva
27.02.2021
The Dig (2021) by Simon Stone tells the story which is around 100 years old, but still not as old as the one excavated by archaeologists in it. Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a self-taught researcher of antiquity, comes to Suffolk at the request of Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan). Women's intuition, as we know, is very strong. The only question is in what area this time. The landlady not only insists on digging in one specific place, but also assures Brown that there is a sense behind her blind confidence. Finally, it works and the archaeologist also has an insight. The viewer is amazed by this feeling from the discovery of an ancient treasure in English soil in the times close to modernity.
The film turns out to be outside the framework of stories similar to it in the plot. Indiana Jones (1981-2008), National Treasures (2004-2007), and other films about finding age-old secrets differ in mood. Unlike this, in The Dig, truly great reality is shown without pathos, loud words or a route full of danger (although there is a couple of terrifying moments). Not being a box office hit or even a mainstream film, it still lacks the depths. Of course, there are reflections on the existence of the human race at all and narrower issues like the ownership of history and class inequality. But they are so vague, although they are discussed by the characters, that the viewer is doomed to independent development of thought. Still the tempo and rhythm of the film are addictive. Lots of eye-catching shots with an oncoming camera give the viewer that very Aronofsky sense of being God.

Despite the fact that the characters are full of emotions — from discovery, unexpected bad news and newfound love — the actors seem to be deliberately portraying robots. Not entirely the way we used to see or imagine them, but facial expressions are minimized. So, we learn about their inner experiences through their actions.
Most likely, this is the influence of a theater director in charge of the film. Simon Stone created four films before The Dig with the debut only 5 years ago in Toronto with The Daughter — a play by Norwegian Henrik Ibsen shot against the backdrop of the rural landscapes of Australia. And while critics have different opinions about the acting, most of them say this film "demonstrates both the staying power of classic material and the risks inherent in bringing it up to date".

One of the features of Stone as a theater director is the ability to turn the story, artistic or real, into something different from the original and yet broadcasting all the nuances embedded in it. In addition, he belongs to the direction of theatrical figures who look at the past through the prism of the present day — a trend that came, for example, to Russia only in the last 10 years, but has long been actively developed in countries outside. And Simon Stone is right in the middle of the action — in 2007, he founded The Hayloft Company, where he directed his own adaptations of such classic dramatic texts as Platonov by Chekhov, Tiesta by Seneca, Awakening of Spring by Wedekind, and Little Eyolf by Ibsen.

Stone's actors on screen show sensitivity differently. When there is a ghostly hope that the widow Edith will see in Brown the person she desperately needs, because they get along perfectly, the truth falls upon us. He is married, and her fate is already a foregone conclusion, but in a completely different way. A novel by journalist and author John Preston was adapted by screenwriter Moira Buffini who is known for Jane Eyre (2011) and Byzantium (2012). Perhaps unintentionally, Stone and Buffini divide the film in two parts, in a theater style. Basil Brown from the central character gradually turns into just one of many. And yet Fiennes's acting talent allows him not to get lost while a love line develops and business issues are resolved between representatives of museums in the foreground.
The drama in The Dig is complemented not exactly by the process of agreements with museums and a love story, but by the Second World War approaching. It remains in the background, but for some reason, in several places, represents a more important event than the excavation itself. The last melodramatic scenes perfectly reflect the feeling of humanity on the verge of mutual destruction of nations — in the arms of loved ones, taking care of them, staying together in the remaining time before the disaster. And all that these people care about is memory.
Made on
Tilda