Episode 31: The Dig

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After several frantic fast-paced movies, Sean and Cody settle down into a more measured drama, as well as catch a new release, set in the fields of Suffolk on the eve of World War II. In the 2021 Netflix original The Dig, widowed single mom Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) knows enough about medieval archaeology to be dangerous and she thinks she might have some loot from the Middle Ages buried in her backyard. When she hires Grumpy McGrumpface Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to do a little digging on the property she gets more than she bargained for when the treasure cache of an Anglo-Saxon king pops to the surface. Environmental issues include the discipline of archaeology and its relationship to environmental science, decay and preservation over centuries, the lands and rivers of 7th century England, the portrayal of academia in movies, and much more.

What happens when you bury a wooden ship in the soil of southeastern England for 1300 years? Whose helmet was buried at Sutton Hoo? Is archaeology an environmental science? Why are the “Dark Ages” not a thing anymore, and actually never were? Why were so many English widows holding séances to try to speak to their dead relatives in the 1920s and ‘30s? What do Edith Pretty and Mrs. Miniver have in common? Why would you turn down a knighthood from Winston Churchill? What day of the week did World War II start on, and why does it keep coming up in movies? All these questions are hidden under the branches in this very British episode of Green Screen.

Trailer for the 2021 The Dig.
Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) and Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) discuss archaeology and respect for the very-long dead in The Dig.

Note: because it’s a recent movie still streaming on Netflix and copyright access is tightly controlled, there are fewer excerpts or clips from The Dig available as compared to older movies.

Additional Materials About This Episode:

The Sutton Hoo Dig

the dig 10 sutton hoo helmet

The iconic Sutton Hoo helmet, now in the British Museum, easily the most famous artifact from the Sutton Hoo treasure.

Paul Geater, “Why Sutton Hoo’s Iconic Helmet Was Not in Netflix’s The Dig Film,” East Anglian Daily Times, February 1, 2021:
https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/why-sutton-hoo-helmet-not-in-the-dig-7297630

Dr. Roberta Gilchrist, “The Dig on Netflix: A Refreshingly Accurate Portrayal–According to an Archaeologist,” The Conversation, February 3, 2021:
https://theconversation.com/the-dig-on-netflix-a-refreshingly-accurate-portrayal-according-to-an-archaeologist-154442

About Margaret Guido (Peggy Piggott):

Derek Barker, “A Heroine of Beads,” Bradford Unconsidered Trifles (blog), August 30, 2014:
https://bradfordunconsideredtrifles.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/a-heroine-of-beads/

Margaret Guido, Sardinia, Ancient Peoples and Places (London: Thames and Hudson, 1963), Archive.org link:
https://archive.org/details/in.gov.ignca.40690/page/n5/mode/2up

About Stuart Piggott:

Obituary: Professor Stuart Piggott, by Roger Mercer, The Independent, September 26, 1996:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-professor-stuart-piggott-1365215.html

About Edith Pretty:

“The Woman Who Gave Us Sutton Hoo,” East Anglian Daily Times, December 21, 2006 (archive link):
https://web.archive.org/web/20140327233821/http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/features_2_483/the_woman_who_gave_us_sutton_hoo_1_78723

The Coming of World War II (In Movies & Real Life):

Neville Chamberlain’s war speech of September 3, 1939, as broadcast on British radio. Stay tuned after the speech for announcements on how British society reacted immediately to the declaration of war.
Trailer for Mrs. Miniver (1942), the William Wyler-directed Best Picture winner that also depicts the beginning of World War II in Britain.

The Dig (2021) on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3661210/
The Dig (2021) on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/film/the-dig-2021/

Next Movie Up: Local Hero (1983)

The screenshot from The Dig is presumably copyright (C) 2021 by Netflix. Its inclusion here is believed to be permissible under fair use. We are not the uploader of any YouTube clips embedded here.

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