The Dig parents guide

The Dig Parent Guide

This isn't just a tale of digging for gold; it's a personal story of love, loss, and generosity.

Overall B+

Netflix: Edith Pretty has just hired an amateur archaeologist to excavate the mounts on her estate. But with World War II rapidly approaching, he's going to have to work quickly.

Release date January 29, 2021

Violence B
Sexual Content C-
Profanity B+
Substance Use B

Why is The Dig rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Dig PG-13 for brief sensuality and partial nudity.

Run Time: 112 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Have you ever wanted to go back in time? Do you wish to see a world now vanished? Do you love wandering through museums, gazing at the works of people long dead, trying to understand what inspired them? If archaeology intrigues you, The Dig will only deepen your fascination.

The film, which is based on a true story, opens in the Suffolk countryside in 1939. Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) is a widow with a passion for the past. Raised in a home abutting a Cistercian convent, she spent her childhood helping her father excavate it. Now living with her son Robert (Archie Barnes) at Sutton Hoo, she is intrigued by the mounds on her estate. Determined to uncover their secrets, she hires self-taught archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to dig. As Brown starts to excavate the mounds a dazzling discovery emerges. Amid the excitement come new challenges – professional infighting, long-simmering health problems, and the rumblings of war…

I must admit to a lifelong passion for archaeology, which makes The Dig a home run for me. As Brown and the growing team of archaeologists exhume ancient treasures from the earth, I get caught up in the excitement and marvel with them at the beauty they find. But this story isn’t just about digging up gold. It’s also a deeply personal story with themes of persistence, love, loss, and generosity.

Edith Pretty is running out of time, and determinedly focuses on her two priorities – Robert and the excavation on her estate. Throughout it all, she is remarkably generous and selfless, cherishing her son, doing her best to see Basil Brown credited for his achievements, and ensuring that the treasure can be seen by as many people as possible. Throw in Brown’s example of hard work and education against the odds, and this movie has lots of positive messages for teenage viewers.

Amid the uplifting themes, however, viewers will notice some unnecessary sexual content. There are two scenes where a woman’s breasts are partially visible and a non-explicit scene of adultery. As a family movie critic, I find material like this frustrating; moreso in this case because the relationship is not historically accurate. It was simply thrown in to jazz up the story. It’s insulting to audiences when screenwriters or directors determine that meaningful drama isn’t enough and that viewers will only watch films if sex is thrown in to “spice it up”.

The Dig reminds us that movies are a bit like archaeology – you have to shake off the dirt to find the gold. There is a gem of a movie here, thoughtful and warm-hearted – but it’s been covered up with some undesirable content. Whether or not that impedes your enjoyment of the story depends on your perspective.

Directed by Simon Stone. Starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, and Lily James. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release January 29, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Dig

The Dig
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Dig rated PG-13? The Dig is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for brief sensuality and partial nudity.

Violence: A man is covered in a landslide. A plane crashes off screen; the pilot’s body is briefly seen. A woman mentions a death by drowning.
Sexual Content: There are several scenes of men and women kissing. A woman is briefly seen in the bath and there is a partial view of her breasts. A woman undresses in front of her husband: her back and the side of her breast are seen. There is a scene of non-explicit adulterous sexual activity: a man’s bare back is visible as he lays on top of a moaning woman. It is implied that a married man is gay.
Profanity: There are a handful of minor profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People are seen drinking alcohol in a pub and in other social situations. A main character smokes a pipe. People are seen smoking cigarettes.

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The Dig Parents' Guide

The Sutton Hoo treasure is considered one of the greatest archeological discoveries of all time. To learn more about it, check out the following links:

The British Museum: Sutton Hoo and Europe

The British Museum: Classroom resource: Sutton Hoo

The British Museum: Eighty years (and more) of Sutton Hoo

YouTube: BBC: Sutton Hoo: Masterpieces of the British Museum

National Trust: Sutton Hoo

How accurate is the movie’s portrayal of the events around the discovery of the treasure?

History vs Hollywood: The Dig

In the film Basil tells Robert, “We all fail. Every day. There are some things we just can’t succeed at. No matter how hard we try.” What is he trying to help Robert understand? How does accepting failure help us keep trying? How is it related to emotional resiliency?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

This movie is based on the book, The Dig, by John Preston.

If you want a closer look at the treasures unearthed by Basil Brown and the other archaeologists, find a copy of Treasures from Sutton Hoo by Gareth Williams.

For a more detailed look at the site and its history, you can read The Sutton Hoo Story by Martin Carver.