I just watched a new Netflix movie, The Dig.
Based on a true story, The Dig is about a lady with lumps in her lawn. What, you want more? Okay. It’s 1939. A wealthy British widow (the lovely Carey Mulligan) hires an amateur excavator/archaeologist (played wonderfully by Ralph Fiennes) to dig up these odd, massive hills dotting her property; she suspects they could be covering up something of historic significance.
As I watched Fiennes methodically plotting his dig and carefully setting to work, I was struck by the sheer beauty of it. The tenderness, care, and focus on a future outcome rooted entirely in honoring the past.
So often now things seem rushed. Careless. Disposable. Selfish and singular. Flurries of social media posts, appliances that break before you take them out of the box, decisions made out of convenience versus the greater good. I’m as guilty as anyone of resting on my privilege, posting seven “look at my food!” Instagram stories in a row, and pressing ‘Buy Now’ on questionably-sourced products.
Why can we handle an archeological dig with such tender patience, yet treat each other and our shared future so carelessly? Furthermore, why can’t we apply the same loving consideration when we mine our own hearts and past(s)? Can you imagine the world if we approached it and ourselves with such reverence?
The cynic in me says, “We’re only careful when someone stands to make a fortune – either in money or fame or both.” But that doesn’t explain the characters in The Dig. Their motivations were based in truth-seeking and respect for the past. And, sure, a desire to be remembered for something bigger than themselves, but in this case, I’d argue it was less ego-driven and more altruistic.
As the movie played on and two more characters entered the scene – a young archeologist couple – a new question came to mind: Is it possible to find treasure without also finding sorrow and struggle?
Speaking of dirt…
It’s no epiphany, and perhaps just a sign of my aging conscience, but I watched The Dig and longed for simpler times and a purer future for us all. I love movies that make me cry. Think. Laugh. Preferably all in one film.