The Dig revolves around certain characters who are stubborn and adamant enough to do only what their calling is. I agree one hundred percent that the kind of adversities such people face, who just refuse to be a part of the rat race (even when it is more comfortable and flourishing), is beyond imagination. There is no incentive and there is negligible remuneration. There is no future security. Because of the absence of such material necessities they just can’t keep up with society. They don’t have the means and resources to do so. And it is then you realize the BIG LIE i.e follow your dreams, do something that you are good at, be passionate about your work, etc. All these things do matter but precedence is always taken by other things. A simple statement like, “follow your dreams”, is much more political and has loopholes than it seems. There are a lot of ifs and buts that need to be fulfilled before one can do what they are good at. The status in society is not maintained by only doing things that you are passionate about.
So why do these insanely stubborn people keep doing something without the hope of getting any attractive allowance or even credit for their work? I believe that knowingly or unknowingly the film has asked these questions. The characterizations and the emphasis of human conflict they face, have given us their testimony on the very fact that why would they do something like that.
The Dig directed by Simon Stone is based on the works of John Preston. The flagbearer of the ship, Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan have moored their ship, safely and in a scintillating fashion.
‘The Dig’ Summary
Edith Pretty lives on her huge estate in Suffolk. She always had an interest in archaeology. She could never pursue it even when she was admitted to the university. She looked after her ailing father and then her indisposed husband, but to no effect as both met their fate. This left Edith with her son and the grand estate of Sutton Hoo to look after.
Edith had always been curious about the mounds on her property. She always had a hunch that there was something beneath them. An excavator is hired from the local Ipswich museum to dig the mound. Mr. Basil Brown arrives at the scene. He has this mulish expression while negotiating terms. Edith raises the amount she was offering, to keep him on board.
An Unspoken Bond
Edith Pretty and Basil Pretty develop a sense of care and understanding for each other. They understand that time has been harsh on them. And despite coming from totally different backgrounds they can relate to that feeling of being the lone warriors, in a battle that they have to face every day. They both have their demons to face yet a passionate thread just pulls them and gives them enough energy to embark on a journey together. They share the love for archaeology or rather I should say the things which connect us to our forebears.
But as I said earlier, in our society the authority depends on a piece of paper that we refer to as “a degree”, rather than the natural ability or want to do a particular thing.
Edith never attended university and Basil Brown was a self-taught man. So when the officials of the British museum overtake the operation, considering what Basil Brown found was of national importance, the natural instincts of Edith and Brown were undermined, to give way to more technical terminology and the compulsion to go by the book.
But it’s Edith Pretty’s property, so she has the last word on things. She tries her best to credit the findings to Mr. Basil Brown’s name but she was fighting this society of intellectuals and an established process that does not bow down to such anomalies.
What Drives A Soul?
History is written by those who have the power to influence but it is not kind to them forever. Future generations eventually do come to know about the unbiased events. But often it fills me with a feeling of remorse that the “actual victor” has to live with the fact that the people would never know about his accomplishments. What use is it then, even if the future generations come to know about it because I am not there to witness the applause?
In a beautifully written conversation with his wife, Basil Brown explores this very facet of working throughout your life, without any inducement. His wife asks him why he does it. He says that his father taught him excavating and he does it because he is good at it and not for any credit.
I believe that those are the strongest ones who can move undeterred without even the hope of being credited. That is what I believe is the truest meaning of passion. They are unconcerned about whether the world is going to perceive them correctly or history is going to treat them well or not. What they are concerned about is the work at hand and seizing the present moment to the best of their ability. Their work gives them happiness and provides the much-needed drive to make strides that no one can imagine.
The Dig allows you to sink in the emotion and moves calmly like a swift stream even when strong currents surround it. A subplot that explores the relationship between Edith’s brother and a married archaeologist working at the site can be said to be a digression but still doesn’t obstruct the flow of the narrative.
Streaming on Netflix, The Dig portrays an amalgamation of picturesque landscapes and soothing and thought-provoking background scores that have the ability to push you into a meditative sphere.
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