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Patterson-Gimlin Film (1967)

Bigfoot (original title)
A short film of what appears to be the first captured footage of Bigfoot.
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Roger Patterson ...
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A short film of what appears to be the first captured footage of Bigfoot.

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Trivia

Shot with a 16mm Cine Kodak K100 with a mobilgrip handle. 952 frames of bigfoot were shot, amounting to approximately 39.7 seconds (at 24 frames per second). It was strongly rumored that special makeup effects wizard John Chambers created a suit that was used in this film, as part of an elaborate hoax. Both the filmmakers and Chambers himself have denied this accusation. See more »

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Featured in Monsterquest: Bigfoot (2007) See more »

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"Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist?"
24 August 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Ah, Bigfoot! These 952 frames of shaky 16mm colour footage have contributed more to the plight of cryptozoology than any piece of evidence besides Robert Kenneth Wilson's 1934 "Surgeon's photograph" of the Loch Ness Monster {now widely considered a hoax}. Additionally, it might also be the second most widely-viewed amateur footage ever taken, runner-up only to Abraham Zapruder's grisly images of President Kennedy's assassination. To the untrained eye, 'Bigfoot (1967)' may simply appear to show a man in a particularly well-constructed ape-man suit traipsing through the forest, but those with experience can tell you better – it surely depicts a large, hairy bipedal apelike figure, a species unknown to science, which had momentarily emerged from its wilderness paradise to oversee the filming of Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin's Bigfoot documentary. If you think you can detect a hint of sarcasm in that remark, then you're completely correct, as nothing could convince me that the figure in the Patterson-Gimlin footage is anything but a hoax, albeit an ingenious one.

As a youth, I was consistently fascinated by the field of cryptozoology. Even more so than plain zoology, it really fired the imagination to consider what enigmatic creatures may be roaming the wilderness, just waiting to stumble across our paths and into science. Hell, I even once struck out into the Grampians in search of the black panther that is rumoured to roam the region, a species reportedly released into the Bush by American servicemen during WWII {our investigation was interesting but rather inconclusive}. However, I've never given much belief to the notion of Bigfoot; for me it seems wholly beyond the realms of credibility. Peculiarly, most continents have their own variations on a common theme – the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America, the Yeti of Tibet and Nepal, the Yeren of mainland China, the Orang Pendek of Indonesia, and the Yowie of Australia. Perhaps it's only natural for humans to envision a hidden human-like species, more closely related to us than the chimpanzee or gorilla.

I don't wish to launch into any in-depth discussion on the implausibility of an undiscovered hominid existing in North America. It would only serve to alienate those who do believe in such a thing, and what's life all about if we can't use our imaginations? However, given that I've established my stance that the film is a fabrication, I'd like to analyse a few details to ascertain why the footage has proved such a cultural phenomenon. First of all, the ape-suit is convincing, at least from a distance, and at least while being shot with a shaky camera. The actor {Bob Heironimus, allegedly} walks with a stooped back, uses padding to expand his frame but otherwise walks with an assuredly human-like gait. Most importantly of all, he looks back! Such a detail should not be underestimated, for it is this legendary frame 352 – an image of a potentially-inhuman entity glaring directly at the viewer with clear recognition and even a certain degree of contempt – that has enduringly captured the collective public consciousness.

Just one year before 'The Planet of the Apes (1968)' and '2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)' unveiled very impressive ape-man costumes that were convincing at close range, it's not difficult to believe that Patterson got his hands on a simple animal suit that would have been quite sufficient for his purposes. When he passed away in 1972, Patterson gave no hint that he had fabricated his Bigfoot. Perhaps he was simply being noble, protecting the credibility of his fellow filmmaker, or perhaps there's even greater glory to be found in the fact that nobody will ever know the truth. Gimlin is still around, and delivers occasional lectures on the search for Bigfoot, but you sense that Patterson was the real mastermind behind the ruse. There's also the slight possibility that both filmmakers are completely earnest, and that a third party decided to take them for a ride, but surely such an elaborate prank would have been far too difficult without the filmmakers' cooperation. That this footage is fabricated certainly doesn't negate its importance or cultural value – the myth of Bigfoot owes its continued existence to 952 seconds of shaky home video.


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