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Tim Regester - 29 Jan 2021
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As Charlie put it to Ralph most times the Suffolk accent depicted in Film and TV sounds like West Country pirates, not in this film though. Gawd t'hell bah, they really nail it.

In 2019 I walked into the Quay Theatre where I volunteer. I met a friend called Charlie Haylock and as per usual we got yacking. There followed a discussion and lecture on the English language and its roots in Anglo Saxon culture. Then something extraordinary happened.

I half expected it, but not the way it happened. In walked Hollywood hearththrob Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, Coriolanus and many more award winning films).
Ralph was learning how to speak Suffolk. Charlie was his accent coach.

When Ralph walked in, our conversation stopped, Ralph, having heard the substance of it asked us to carry on. We did for a few minutes then they disappeared off to a dressing room for the next lesson in speaking in the Suffolk vernacular. I was left with the swooning women in the offices (he has that effect). I found him just a normal bloke but utterly charming.

Nearly two years later and much delayed by the pandemic, the fruits of those labours are released as the film "The Dig" on Netflix.

The Suffolk accents are absolutely spot on, as a few other Campfire members will concur. 

But what of the film?

It tells the story of the discovery by Basil Brown (played by Fiennes) on the land of Mrs Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) of the Sutton Hoo Burial ship and treasures.

The film is breathtakingly beautiful, reminiscent of a Terrence Mallick movie, portraying the Suffolk Landscape in all it's beauty and quirkiness. The acting is excellent, backed by a great script. The depiction of archaeology is spot on, (I did some when I was quite young as my dad was part of the local archaeology group). You get some idea of how ground-breaking this discovery was.

But the stand out for most Suffolk people is the accents. They are truly authentic. As Charlie put it to Ralph, most times the Suffolk accent depicted in Film and TV sounds like West Country pirates, not in this film though. Gawd t'hell bah, they really nail it. Everyone from Suffolk sounds as if they are from Suffolk. It is music to my Suffolk ears and worth every moment at the Quay, on set, and apparantly supping ale (probably Adnams) in a number of gorgeous (but currently closed) Suffolk pubs.

So why is the film flawed?

The classic hollywood flaw of introducing a romantic element, takes the viewer away from the finds (which are seen far too fleetingly) to a romance involving a digger a character called Peggy Piggott but later to be a world-reknowned archaeologist, played by Lily James.. Some 20 minutes of the movie is wasted when there is so much that could have been seen without it. Maybe its in the book but it really detracts from what is already an extraordinary enough story. I suppose build up to this sub-plot does depict the mysoginy common in the 1930's in the same way as Ken Stotts British Museum public school product displays extraordinary snobbery.

However they should have shown what they found at Sutton Hoo, like the recreation of the mask and helmet and the extraordinary gold artefacts.

You can see these on the Sutton Hoo Wikipedia page. linked below with some of the images.

This film is well worth seeing, despite it's flaws, better than I could have hoped.

1 Comments

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Pete Lawrence

"The Suffolk accents are absolutely spot on, as a few other Campfire members will concur. " Always loved The Singing Postman

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