The Dig ★★★★

Carey Mulligan: my heart is full. What an actress.

Simon Stone's The Dig adapts the novelization of the true-to-life Sutton Hoo burial artifacts dug up in the late 1930s in Suffolk, England, on the brink of the Second World War. The archaeological wonder has since come to enlighten the world's understanding of the art and culture of Medieval England, taking it out of the assumed “darkness” that prevailed without a civilizing Roman influence. Stone's visual approach to the subject matter could almost be described as Malick-ian, utilizing free-floating cameras, elegant tracking shots and tipped compositions to photograph his narrative under the (admittedly gorgeous) blue, purple and chalky English skies. Throw in a swelling score and pained, achy longings to boot and you've got yourself an unexpected night with Terry. The film's somber meditation on mortality and time runs in parallel courses with the find of the distant past and the coming unmentionables of the present, and is aiming for a transcendence that isn't quite met by the material, but the work put in by all involved is commendable and occasionally remarkable. Ralph Fiennes, we well know, can act his way out of a straight-jacket blindfolded whilst in a conflagration, and the aforementioned Mulligan is simply an earthly treasure. As an early tertiary character exclaims upon visiting the dig site for the first time, "Jolly good" indeed.

Further reading I enjoyed on the Sutton Hoo treasure.

Clayton liked these reviews