Is The Most Notorious Bigfoot Footage Ever A Hoax...Or Is It The Real Deal
The Patterson-Gimlin film is the most compelling piece of evidence for Bigfoot's existence, which also means it's been subject to intense scrutiny. It's been dissected frame by frame by Bigfoot believers and skeptics alike, all of them looking for evidence to prove or disprove the creature's existence. Unfortunately for enthusiasts, no clearer footage has been found. Questionable Bigfoot pictures are all anyone has to go on, even though smartphones are ubiquitous and it seems like somebody ought to have caught better footage by this point.
But the question of "is Bigfoot real?" still persists, in part because the Patterson-Gimlin film is so interesting. It doesn't look quite like a human in a gorilla costume, but its shakiness, lack of focus, and aged film grain mean viewers also never get a good look. Anthropologists and other experts have studied the film extensively, and Patterson himself died still swearing it was genuine. There's compelling evidence for both sides, lending this longstanding evidence of Bigfoot credibility even decades after its creation.
Patterson And Gimlin Were Already Creating A Docudrama About BigfootPhoto: flickr / CC0
Part of the reason that Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin were in the area where they shot the infamous 1967 footage is that they were creating a docudrama about a historical encounter with the famed Bigfoot. They went out into the woods that day to search for Bigfoot tracks, as there were numerous sightings of the creature in that area.
While filming a docudrama does give the two an excuse for carrying a camera into the woods, it also raises some questions about authenticity. If Patterson and Gimlin were just scouting for tracks, what are the odds they'd run into a creature few people have ever seen with a camera on hand to record the encounter? Making a documentary about something that may or may not exist and happening to stumble onto that thing in the process sounds suspicious to a lot of skeptics.
The Creature's Unique Walk Lends The Film CredibilityVideo: YouTube
Even to someone who hasn't studied biomechanics (the movement of living things), it's pretty clear that the gait of the figure in the Patterson-Gimlin film isn't naturally human. The way the figure swings its arms and the degree to which it lifts its feet have been studied sine the film's creation, with scientists unsure whether it's a deliberate fake or genuine footage of an inhuman creature.
Dmitri Donskoy, a biomechanics expert, reportedly thought the creature was unlikely to be human because of its strange movement in the Patterson-Gimlin film. While some of the evidence is less convincing if the film speed is changed, that so many experts in the field have seen the footage and deemed Bigfoot inhuman lends it a lot of credibility.
Discrepancies In Film Speed Leave Experts ConfusedPhoto: VCU Libraries / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Film speed isn't something most people consider, but it's crucially important in the discussion of the Patterson-Gimlin film. Patterson usually recorded at 24 frames per second, but failed to note what speed the Bigfoot footage was recorded at. As experts have noted, if the footage is filmed at 24 frames per second, the speed matches a human's walk. But playing the footage of Bigfoot in comparison to earlier footage of horses on the tape at 24 frames per second makes the horses' movement look strange, indicating that it may not have been shot at that speed.
But that raises the question of why the speed would have been changed for this particular footage. Was it done to make the walk look unnatural, or was it a mere mistake?
Computer Analysis Implies The Figure Isn't HumanPhoto: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
As one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, the Patterson-Gimlin film has been extensively analyzed by filmmakers. Computer analysis has made this all the more interesting, as analysts can now compare the tracks associated with the figure in the film with the film itself, and reach new conclusions about what's happening in the footage.
Reconstructions have given the figure in the film an intermembral index (which can be used to predict limb length, important in movement) of 88. For comparison, a human's intermembral index is around 71, while a gorilla's, the largest of apes, exceeds 100. Even considering for margin of error and the use of football pads or other artificial bulk, the intermembral index far exceeds that of a human, implying that, whatever the figure is, it's not human.
Patterson's Claim Of The Creature's Size Increased With Later TellingsPhoto: Ahmed Yousry / YouTube
Memory is fallible, and the shakiness of the Patterson-Gimlin film means people have to rely on what they see as well as the filmmakers' testimonies. But Patterson in particular developed some inconsistencies in his story as time went on, especially regarding the size of the creature in the film.
The more time that passed, the larger Patterson's estimate got. At first he claimed the creature was six-and-a-half to seven-feet tall, and later he claimed it was seven-and-a-half feet tall, according to The Bigfoot Film Controversy by Christopher L. Murphy. While his memory of the figure may have grown exaggerated with time, an entire foot is a pretty large difference. These kinds of inconsistencies mean that it's hard to have faith in Patterson's testimony – it feels like an exaggeration rather than an error, leading people to question what else may have been exaggerated to sell the story.
Patterson Remained An Active Bigfoot HunterPhoto: Bigfoot Country / YouTube
Though people doubt the veracity of his film, Patterson, at least, seemed to believe wholeheartedly in the existence of Bigfoot. According to Michael McCleod in Anatomy of a Beast, rather than coasting along on one piece of evidence, Patterson instead spent the remainder of his life searching for further proof, admitting publicly that he wished he'd shot the creature to have more of a case.
Patterson continued to pursue evidence of Bigfoot, even sacrificing his own health to do so. Though he was suffering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma, he spent the rest of his money on booking a trip to Thailand to investigate a reported specimen in captivity, only to find out it was a hoax.