It’s this true story that John Preston used as the stage for his novel “ The Dig,” which has been adapted into a very lovely film by screenwriter Moira Buffini and director Simon Stone. Carey Mulligan stars as the Sutton Hoo landowner, Edith Pretty, a wealthy widow, mother to a preteen son and a bit of an amateur archaeologist who has a hunch about one of the mounds on her property. There’s also a ticking clock behind her expedition — the story is set in the summer of 1939 and by September, Britain would be declaring war.
The man she chooses for the job is Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a local excavator for a provincial museum. He is no doubt a brilliant archaeologist and an expert in his region, taught by two generations of his own family, but his formal education and external demeanor denote a lower class and thus he’s not taken seriously by many. Even his colleagues call him “unorthodox and untrained.”
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