“Based on John Preston’s novel The Dig, the drama represents a “layered piece with great emotional weight in the tradition of films like The Remains of the Day.”
Cate Blanchett is in talks to play the grieving widow who oversaw one of Britain’s greatest archaeological finds in the Susanne Bier period drama The Dig, reports Screen.
Blanchett looks set to play amateur archaeologist Edith Pretty, a driving force behind the 1938-9 excavation of Sutton Hoo burial grounds near Woodbridge, Suffolk. The grounds were unearthed on the Sutton Hoo House estate which Pretty owned along with her husband Frank, who had died four years earlier, after she hired archaeologist Basil Brown to begin an excavation.
Brown made some promising early finds in 1938. But it was when he returned in the summer of 1939 for a further dig that the real treasure was discovered. A 27-metre seventh-century Saxon ship, most likely the last resting-place of King Rædwald of East Anglia, was among the new finds. Pretty donated the entire discovery to the British Museum, and the House and burial site are now in the care of the National Trust.
Screen reports that the script by Tamara Drewe and Byzantium writer Moira Buffini, based on John Preston’s novel The Dig, represents a “layered piece with great emotional weight in the tradition of films like The Remains of the Day, spanning love, life and death”.
Both Blanchett and Bier are Oscar-winners: the Australian actor won best supporting actress in 2005 for Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and best actor this year for the Woody Allen comedy Blue Jasmine. The Danish film-maker’s drama In a Better World won the best foreign language film prize at the 2011 Academy Awards.
The Dig is being put together by Philomena producer Gaby Tana, Clerkenwell Films, and former Clerkenwell executive Ellie Wood, with support from BBC Films. The project is being tipped for a high-profile deal at the upcoming Cannes film festival.
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