Page 20 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper March/April 2018 Edition
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20                       The Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film

              The Patterson-Gimlin

                      Bigfoot Film

            The true history behind the iconic
          Bigfoot film that launched the legend.

                      by Brian Dunning

          You've seen it a hundred times: the iconic
          picture of Bigfoot striding heavily through the
          clearing, arms swinging, head and shoulders
          turned slightly toward the camera. This famous
          image is frame 352 of a 16mm silent color film
          shot in 1967 in northern California by rancher
          Roger Patterson, accompanied by his friend,
          Bob Gimlin. The impact that this film has had
          on Bigfoot mythology is inestimable; and
          correspondingly, so has its impact upon
          paranormal, cryptozoological, and pop culture
          mythologies in general. I might well not be     evidence that is unavailable to us.            their story. Other suspicious cryptozoologists,
          doing the Skeptoid podcast today if the 1967           No    one     has    ever    produced   such as Peter Byrne, found holes and
          Patterson-Gimlin film had not turned legend     documentation like receipts showing when and   contradictions in those stories. In the end, the
          and fancy into concrete, tangible, see-it-with-  where the film was developed. We know when    version Patterson and Gimlin settled on was that
          your-own-eyes reality.                          and where Patterson rented the camera, but     they put the film onto a plane and flew it to
                 Whether or not Bigfoot exists is one     that's not really in dispute. He had it in his  Yakima, where Al DeAtley picked it up to have
          question — the answer to which has not exactly  possession for plenty of time before and after  it developed. Byrne found that the only charter
          whitened the knuckles of science — but the      the alleged date of the filming. So that's yet  planes that could have flown that route that day
          authenticity of the Patterson-Gimlin film is    another dead end. Patterson covered his tracks  were all grounded due to rain and bad weather.
          something else. If Bigfoot were known to be a   very effectively (no Bigfoot pun intended).    Since then, few serious researchers took
          real animal, an investigation into the                 He was quite a character, and had       Patterson and Gimlin's story seriously.
          authenticity of the film would make sense. If   always been. He'd been a competitive rodeo            But the film had already grown larger
          Bigfoot were known to not exist, then it would  cowboy, part-time rancher, and full-time       than all of them. It was a sensation, and to this
          be logically moot to study the film at all; it must  slacker. Few who knew him had anything    day, rakes in revenue in licensing fees. DeAtley
          be a fake. But for today's purpose, we're going  positive to say about him. His reputation was  backed Patterson and formed Bigfoot
          to brush aside the larger question (which should  that he never paid his bills. He borrowed money,  Enterprises on November 1, just 10 days after
          never be done in real science) and focus only on  lied about it, and never paid it back. He was  the shoot, and reported $200,000 in the first
          this detail.  We'll assume that the existence of  physically very strong — not an ounce of fat,  year. Make no mistake about it: for the late
          Bigfoot is an open question (a big assumption),  and thick with muscles — and was fond of      1960s and a man who used dig through the
          and just for fun, let's see what we can determine  showing it off. He knew everything better than  dump, Bigfoot was big money. Throughout the
          on whether this famous film clip is a deliberate  anyone, and nobody could tell him a thing. He  1970s, Patty Patterson, Al DeAtley, Bob Gimlin,
          hoax, or whether it shows a real animal, or     never kept interest in one career very long. One  and a wildlife film company fought numerous
          whether there might be some other explanation.  day he'd build stagecoaches for miniature      lawsuits with one another over the rights to the
          Maybe it's a misidentification, or an elaborate  horses; the next day he'd repaint junk found at  footage. The biggest winner was a Bigfoot fan
          film flaw, or an unknown third party hoaxing    the dump and sell it. But his one saving grace  named Rene Dahinden, who ended up with
          Patterson and Gimlin.  There are many           was his wife Patricia. Patty had a brother in  about half of the rights, and Patty with the other
          possibilities.                                  Yakima, WA, Al DeAtley, a successful asphalt   half.
                 Roger Patterson died of cancer only a    contractor, who provided money whenever it            It was in 2004 that author Greg Long dug
          few years after the film was shot, and never    was needed. It was this even keel that got Roger  into this mess to sort everything out. Over a
          offered any clue other than that the film was   Patterson through.                             period of six years, he actually went and met
          genuine. Bob Gimlin remained silent for 25             The story goes that Patterson and Gimlin  face to face with all of these characters who
          years, and ever since he began speaking about it  had developed a strong interest in Bigfoot, and  were still alive, and many other people —
          in the 1990s he has firmly stated that he was   in October 1967 they rented the movie camera   anyone he could find who knew Patterson or
          unaware of any hoax, but allowed for the        and went off on horseback for a couple weeks to  was involved in the film in any way. His entire
          possibility that he may have been hoaxed        look for it. Next thing they knew, they'd become  adventure was published in his entertaining
          himself. Nobody else is known to have           the luckiest Bigfoot hunters in history, when the  book The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story.
          participated, and so the only two people whom   creature obligingly stepped out of the woods          That wildlife film company just
          we can say for certain were present when the    and strode across the clearing for Patterson's  mentioned,  American National Enterprises,
          film was shot are both stonewalls. So we must   camera, in the early afternoon of October 20th.  turns out to have been pivotal. Patterson had
          look elsewhere.                                 Gimlin chased it on horseback, lost it, but found  been driving down to Hollywood a lot, trying to
                 The original film no longer exists (only  its footprints; then they rode about 5 kilometers  sell the idea of a pseudo-documentary about
          copies), and there is no record of anyone ever  back to camp for their plaster of paris.  They  Bigfoot; based on Patterson's own self-
          having possessed the original print.  We don't  rode back, poured plaster into the footprints,  published 1966 book Do Abominable Snowmen
          know why, but we're left without the original   waited for it to dry, then went back to camp   of America Really Exist? Studios wouldn't bite,
          film's leader, which would have included the    again. They loaded their horses into the trailer  but  ANE did. It was with their money that
          date when it was developed. Thus, we have only  and drove 40 kilometers on rough fire roads    Patterson rented his camera and took some pre-
          Patterson's word for when it was developed, so  back to Willow Creek, and posted the film off to  production stills of his buddies allegedly on a
          we can't verify that the film was shot and      Yakima to get it developed. It was about 4:00 in  Bigfoot hunt, but actually in Patterson's own
          developed on the days he claims it was.  The    the afternoon.                                 backyard. They included Bob Gimlin costumed
          original also would have included any other            The glaring impossibility of this       up as a native American guide. ANE's movie
          shots that were taken, such as possible alternate  timeline is what first raised suspicions among  was to be titled Bigfoot: America's Abominable
          takes. If these were ever seen, we'd know for a  skeptics. In response, Patterson and Gimlin   Snowman.
          fact that it was faked. So that's one more line of  began providing all sorts of different versions of                (Continued on Page 21)
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