Wednesday 3 February 2021

The Dig

 Last night I succumbed to the Zeitgeist (seldom a good idea) and watched the Netflix movie The Dig, a fictionalised version of the discovery of the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Everyone is raving about this, and it does have a terrific cast – the great Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Ken Stott all giving it some – but it seemed to me that the script was very ordinary, the direction plodding, and the music so intrusive as to be all but unbearable. It had its moments, but essentially the whole thing left me with that all too familiar 'So what?' feeling. Maybe I have a heart of stone... 
I don't know what the book of the film is like – it's by John Preston, who's a good writer – but it's not the only novel inspired by Sutton Hoo: Angus Wilson certainly had it in mind when he wrote Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (about which I wrote some while back). I think I'd far sooner reread that than watch The Dig again. 


  1. The Dig book is good. I have just finished reading Anglo Saxon Attitudes & have now completely lost my copy (my husband claims we have a poltergeist but I think he may simply be being kind about my untidiness). If I don't find it by tomorrow, I think I might link to your thoughts & save myself the trouble of writing about it myself, especially as I found it mildly tiresome (especially Elvira and Inge). On the other hand, how can you not love a novel that contains a character called Mrs Salad.

  2. Watched it about a week ago. I had high expectations during the first third; the blunt, working class origins of Basil Brown (Fiennes)juxtaposed against the fragrant beauty of the widowed Edith Pretty(Mulligan) was beautifully caught I thought. I had a quiet dread at this point, that the whole thing might turn into a sex-romp, in the manner of Lady Jane/John Thomas, and later be renamed 'Tales Of An Excavator' - but instead, Basil disappeared, and a middle-movement arrived, peopled by various characters hell-bent on making a coin from the spectacular find. It turned out to be an excuse for a bit of rumpy-pumpy, but I quickly yearned for Basil and Edith to return and 'right the boat'. Music dire. So no Nige, your heart is not made of stone but, if it is, then so is mine.