Sunday, February 20, 2011
(Patterson-Gimlin film, 1967, Northern California)
I came across the Patterson-Gimlin film again recently. It's got to be one of my biggest tormenters. Why? Because my entire life, I always poo-poo'd the concept that this was genuine film. No one ever gets such extraordinary things on film and if they did, people would rush into the woods like madmen wanting to capture the beast.
It wasn't until the past 10 years or so that I've looked at the film differently. BF, after all, is not like an elusive ghost. It is a real biological creature that could be captured on film (although there are those who believe he is popping in and out of other dimensions).
I think what bothers me the most about the film is that going about debunking it is much like debunking ghostly evidence. To the outsider, it can be disputed too easily, but to the person who was there in the context, it is forever burned into their memory; they know the context, they know that they saw, smell and heard and they also know it was the genuine thing.
So, I feel some compassion now for Patterson and Gimlin when I view the film. I think about how I would feel if I got amazing ghostly evidence and people shot it down. In fact, Ben Hansen from “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files” and I were talking, he mentioned how film can make people either believe something completely or say that it was easily faked with modern movie-making techniques. It has a polarizing effect.
This film is definitely polarizing.
One thing I talk about extensively in my upcoming book “Was That a Ghost?” is taking the context into account when looking at your encounter; taking into consideration your belief system and your explanatory style when evaluating an encounter. I am going to try to do the same here with the film.
Belief: I do believe in Bigfoot, not sure if I believe in the film (partially objective)
Context: I will review the context in which the film was taken (below).
Explanatory style: In comparing the pros and cons, I will try not to interject any belief system and keep myself objective (below).
The truth is, we must judge on just this case and not anything else. You might believe in ghosts, but each hunting case has to be handled very objectively. You know you believe in ghosts, but that does not have to mean that everything that happens is ghostly. Same here. I believe in BF and that will remain whether or not this film proves to me to be authentic.
This film, in other words, will not be the only thing that makes or breaks my belief.
I thought I should step away from a strange gut feeling that it's authentic when my head says it can't be. I figured I'd break down what bugs me about the film and what intrigues me about it and play “good guy/bad guy” with it.
What bugs me...
Why doesn't the creature react to horses and men shuffling after him? Surely, BF has not seen horses or such huge beasts, other than bears, before. Patterson clearly chases after him too, but BF just strides away like “whatever dudes!”
Why is the face so hairy? I didn't expect to see the face covered completely in hair. I thought it would be more leathery like apes and have large bare areas.
How possible is it that these two men went looking for BF and actually found him? Had they been camping and filming their fun vacation and captured it, I would have believed them so much more.
No apparent calluses on elbows or knees. I'm not sure I know that much about how BF lives, but it seems to me that areas like elbows and knees would be worn down and callused from life outdoors, kneeling, leaning, and sleeping on the forest floor.
Why is his fur sooooo silky? I have long curly hair. When I go camping and lay down on the forest floor, my hair is filled with bits of leaves and all kinds of shit and it will stay there for days if I don't brush out my hair. I doubt BF has a groomer, but damn! His hair looks fine and not matted or dirty.
Most females in primate groups/man tend to stay with the children while the men do the scavenging. Why is this BF female wandering around alone? Where is her tribe? They should be social creatures if they are like their relatives.
Timing. She seemed a bit caught in the act by these men, but two men on horseback clomping through the woods, leaping over boulder-lined streams would be heard by her and she would have been leaving before they even got close and she wouldn't be taking a parallel trek to them, she would have high-tailed it away from them so that they see her backside. This chick BF seems to be doing the runway walk at a beauty pageant.
What intrigues me...
That this creature has pendulous fur-covered breasts is intriguing. It was a touch that one would not expect and men would likely, if designing a costume, just stick on some tits, not thinking about a mature female who has breast fed and not worn a bra her whole life. This is no silicone lady, she's the real deal in the chest department.
The location. It was a creek area and would likely be a spot where she might do some fishing or drinking.
They ran out of film. Really, if you were going to do this, you'd put this film early on the reel while the batteries are fresh. You wouldn't wait until the end of film to record it. They could have chased after BF and gotten even more film.
Profit. It didn't seem as if the men made a lot of money off the film. There was no Tom Biscardi'ish handling of the evidence that made it hard for anyone to view it or asking for cash to study it. They didn't go on a crazy publicity tour or anything else that would profit off such a find.
The head turn. This impressed me because up until now she seems to give a shit they're there, walking away at her own pace, but when she does look over her shoulder at them, it reminded me instantly of apes at the zoo that check you out as they walk away. They know not to completely ignore their stalkers.
The filming place. This one gets me because most of those hokey faked BF vids are deep in the woods where bushes and brambles, trees and thicket blot out the creature's details so we can't pick apart its authenticity. For 1967, for these men to create a hoax like this and have the cajones to put BF out in the open like that with a very well-captured view of the entire body in full-blooming sunlight was either really cocky or just freaking lucky timing.
If I could just have a few minutes with Gimlin, I'd want to ask him this:
"Dude, when Patterson had you wandering the woods looking for BF, did he lead the way that day? Did he seem pressured to get there at a certain time? Did he see the creature first? And, how far in did you follow it after you filmed it?"
I know my brilliant followers can add to this list of "bugs me" and "intrigues me." Feel free to do so. You know I love stimulating conversation on paranormal subjects.
(ape walks like man)