Today marks the 50th anniversary of the most controversial wildlife footage ever captured.
On Oct. 20, 1967 Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin captured on film what they alleged was a Bigfoot (sasquatch) creature on a desolate stretch of Bluff Creek in northern California.
This is the footage that plays in virtually every sasquatch-based television special and even in commercials.
Frame 352 showing the film’s subject walking with its arms swinging is the template for hundreds of products in the cottage industry that has grown up around the sasquatch phenomenon and even the arm swing itself is used in many obvious fake videos over the years.
This footage has been analyzed more than any other than the Zapruder film showing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Numerous individuals have claimed the film was a fake and claimed to have been the man in the suit or that they actually created it.
One man even claims it was made from red horse hair.
Roger Patterson who was holding the camera that day died of cancer in 1972 and maintained what they filmed was real.
Bob Gimlin who is still living and until recent years has mainly avoided the topic also maintains he and his partner captured the image of a living sasquatch, not a man in a suit.
There have been many alleged sasquatch videos captured in the last 50 years but why does this one not only endure but remain the epicenter of media attention on the topic?
As a wildlife journalist I have wrestled with the question many times over the last 25 years.
I have an interest in the topic and have done my share of field research and investigating eyewitnesses. In my opinion this whole phenomenon is important because it is either the greatest source of mass fraud and hallucination the wildlife world has ever seen or its a truly epic discovery waiting to happen.
And I personally get tired of the film itself outshining other aspects of the phenomenon. There are some legitimately interesting things happening on the scientific end of this search.
But the fact remains if it is a fake, why haven’t many better ones been produced since then?
How could two cowboys in an era where Planet of the Apes was the shining example of costume makeup effects produce something that no one has even gotten close to getting?
Not a single alleged sasquatch video is as clear, close up and contains anywhere near as much detail as the Patterson/Gimlin film.
Not even close.
A question that must be asked is if it was so easy to fake in 1967 why haven’t there been many more much better fakes come out as special makeup effects technology has increased dramatically?
Even the BBC with a budget much bigger than Patterson and Gimlin’s abilities failed to produce anything that looked even remotely as realistic as what was captured on Bluff Creek 50 years ago.
Either it is a fake or the most important wildlife footage ever captured. There are no in-betweens.
That is why today this is a worthy subject to write about and the entire phenomenon is one that although problematic in many ways deserves further investigation.
Wildlife filming history was made 50 years ago.
Whether the film is legitimate or not may never be settled but without any doubt the Patterson/Gimlin film has its place in history.
Chester Moore, Jr.
Cutting-edge wildlife writings and investigations.