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The Dig.The Dig (2021)—England

When my wife and I watched this British historical drama, it was trending in the top ten on Netflix. The movie is based upon a 2007 novel of the same name that tells the story of an important archaeological excavation near Suffolk on a 526-acre estate called Sutton Hoo. When you include sharp English class divisions, a couple romantic subplots, the outbreak of World War II, Carey Mulligan star power, and those endearing accents, you have a rock solid recipe. In 1939, a wealthy widow named Edith Pretty hired the uneducated but self-taught local "excavator" (he would not allow himself to be called an "archaeologist") named Basil Brown to explore the burial mounds on her estate. When Brown unearths some priceless artifacts from a buried ship that suggest a tomb befitting a king, his suspicions are confirmed that the site was from the seventh-century Anglo Saxon period and not the later and more common Viking era. At that point the snooty experts from Cambridge and the British Museum elbow their way into the drama. They declare the private property to be a site of national importance and historical significance, and so begins a tug of war. The trove of artifacts was hidden in the London Underground for protection during the war, and only exhibited in 1951, nine years after Pretty died, and without any mention of the contributions of Brown (which snub the British Museum later corrected).

Dan Clendenin:

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