Patterson–Gimlin film


In 1967, two former rodeo riders were riding through a remote forest in Northern California and shot 59 seconds of film on a home-movie 16mm cine camera which appears to show large humanoid, hairy ape-like creature striding on two legs away from the camera on the other side of a streambed. The film-makers - Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin - would later claim that this was the legendary 'Bigfoot' finally caught on camera. In the movie, the 'creature' turns its head to look at the camera whilst still walking and this outline (frame 352) has become the archetype for depictions of Bigfoot.

Patterson was a bigfoot enthusiast and had produced several books on the subject before the film was made. Earlier the same year, had started making a (very) low-budget movie about cowboys being led by an old miner and a wise Indian tracker on a hunt for Bigfoot and it is probable that Patterson would have had to have had a way of depicting the creature in the movie and this would have entailed a suit for an actor. Both Patterson and Gimlin said that they had encountered the creature whilst riding through the woods, filmed it and later filmed themselves collecting plaster casts from the track left behind. This later film has been lost, as has the original raw footage.

Despite Patterson's enthusiasm for the film, it was mostly ignored by scientists. However it started to get interest after being shown on local TV stations and in movie theatres in the US as part of documentary series, eventually being shown on prime-time talks shows. It became the 1960's 'viral hit'. Since then, there have been various legal wranglings over ownership. Patterson died in the 1970's and Gimlin has rarely ever spoken publicly. Other people have come forward to claim involvement - most notably a costume maker who says he sold patterson the suit and another man who claimed he was the guy in the suit. It remains an intriguing film but the idea that there is some hitherto unknown large ape living in North America, given everything we know about evolution and the history of life is so unlikely. It is far more likely that a known con-man (Patterson had been accused of defrauding friends) who's reputation rested on the premise that Bigfoot was real was diminishing due to a lack of evidence, staged a simple hoax and made some money off of it.