An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938.


Simon Stone


Moira Buffini (screenplay), John Preston (novel)
110 ( 19)
Nominated for 5 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Fiennes ... Basil Brown
Stephen Worrall Stephen Worrall ... Ferryman
Danny Webb ... John Grateley
Carey Mulligan ... Edith Pretty
Archie Barnes Archie Barnes ... Robert Pretty
Robert Wilfort Robert Wilfort ... Billy Lyons
James Dryden ... George Spooner
Joe Hurst ... John Jacobs
Paul Ready ... James Reid Moir
Peter McDonald ... Guy Maynard
Christopher Godwin Christopher Godwin ... Dr. Parry
Ellie Piercy ... Mrs. Lyons
Bronwyn James ... Ellen McKenzie
Desmond Kaliszewski Desmond Kaliszewski ... Barge Skipper
Monica Dolan ... May Brown


An archaeologist embarks on the historically important excavation of Sutton Hoo in 1938.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Nothing stays lost forever.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality and partial nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Stuart Piggott and Peggy Piggott married in 1936 and divorced in 1954. In the movie they only came from their honeymoon in June 1939. See more »


The Piggots and other diggers are wearing eyeglasses with plastic lenses and anti-reflective coating, which didn't exist until the 1970s and '80s respectively. The frames are period incorrect as well. See more »


Edith Pretty: I'm so sorry.
Basil Brown: I thought you'd be pleased with the veredict.
Edith Pretty: We die. We die and we decay. We don't live on.
Basil Brown: I'm not sure I agree. From the first human handprint on a cave wall, we're part of something continuous. So, we... don't really die.
See more »


Featured in Jeremy Vine: Episode #4.25 (2021) See more »


La Rejouissance (Allegro)
Written by George Frideric Handel
Public Domain
Arranged by Julian Kershaw
Performed by Alder Valley Brass
See more »

User Reviews

An enthralling slow-burner that uses patient, understated character drama to fantastic effect
30 January 2021 | by themadmoviemanSee all my reviews

An intriguing little piece of British history, The Dig tells a slow-burning story with understated and genuine drama throughout, turning what could have been a rather dry tale of archaeology into a genuinely gripping character drama. Its historical context takes a little while to become fully relevant, but ultimately, The Dig really proves itself as a captivating watch.

One of the things that I really liked about The Dig was its patience. Never dragging yet never rushing, the film takes its time to build up all of its main strengths, from its characters, their emotional back stories, and the overarching historical context of the outbreak of World War II.

Complete with elegant camerawork, a beautiful score and impressively atmospheric direction that makes it an eye-catching watch from the first few moments, The Dig has enough confidence and depth to keep you engrossed even if its story isn't advancing apace, something that's a lot harder to pull off than you may think.

One of the big reasons that the film's patient pacing and style work so well is because of its understated, genuine drama. With calm yet fully convincing performances across the board, particularly from Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, this isn't a showy period drama by any means, but eases you into a story about real people, making them the centre of attention far more than the historical significance of the event.

I'm not particularly well-versed in archaeology, and I didn't know about this discovery before watching this film. I think that might be the case for many other people, but the great thing about The Dig is that it's primarily a character-driven drama, and one that uses emotional intrigue to bring you closer to the story at hand and allow you to appreciate its importance.

One element where the film does seem to falter is in its use of the historical backdrop of the lead-up to World War II. Set in the summer months of 1939 before the outbreak of war, there are sporadic references to the coming conflict through the first two acts of the movie, but they don't seem to bear much relevance to this story about an archaeological find.

However, the film slowly begins to unveil how the historical context plays into its characters' personal lives and the fate of the dig itself, with dramatic focus shifting significantly in the final act, but just at the right point that the sudden arrival of the war into everyday life feels just like what it would have been like to experience it first-hand, taking over everything seemingly normal in an instant.

As a result, while the historical backdrop seems almost contrived at first, it really comes good as the film progresses, another demonstration of how the patience of The Dig really plays into its hands throughout.

149 of 168 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 444 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

29 January 2021 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dig See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos



Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed