Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Truth Behind: Bigfoot

When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. Using this line of logic the documentary The Truth Behind: Bigfoot proves that the famous Patterson-Gimlin footage of bigfoot is definitely real, sort of.

More than anything on this film, I admire the producer’s ability to find filler material to stretch the run time from the initial study of interest. The producers were able to obtain a copy of the original Patterson-Gimlin film (you know, the shaky 1960s film where bigfoot is huge and hairy and walking away, but turns back to look over his/her shoulder at us, and that’s where the editor always quickly zooms in and freezes). Then, using a high definition camera and modern re-imaging techniques, a Hollywood effects specialist was able to examine high-quality images and evaluate the likelihood of the real deal versus a lurpy guy in a suit.

To be clear, I thought this was a kind of neat and innovative way to re-examine the legend of Bigfoot, and I was interested to see what they found. However, the material generated from this investigation couldn’t be stretched into more than fifteen minutes of run time, but National Geographic (the distributer of this quirky bit of fun) needed a longer episode of their documentary series than that, so something had to be found.

Again, I respect the producer of this for finding so many new takes on Bigfoot. In between building anticipation for the ultimate conclusion from an expert examining the (almost) original footage, the audience was treated to foot cast specialists, experts in collecting hair samples through odiferous deceit, and additional Hollywood effects artists. Unlike the usual Sasquatch hunting expedition though, this crew had interesting, original, and even insightful things to add to the quest for truth. 

I appreciated the push in the program to examine physical forms of evidence, rather than rely on eye-witness accounts and urban legends. Anyone who was an “expert” on Bigfoot had devoted their life, or at least considerable shelf space, to collecting tangible proof of the hairy fellow’s existence. Foot casts, purportedly real and known fakes were examined, hair samples were subjected to rudimentary DNA testing, and even human bone structure and musculature were compared to details gleaned from the cleaned up footage.

Ultimately the burning question in this documentary was left unanswered, as it always must be for documentaries like this to retain their credibility. The Patterson-Gimlin film does appear to be genuine, and the creature it captured was incredibly convincing, if not undeniably real. Like many cryptozoologist pursuits, this was an interesting and entertaining, if not particularly informative way to pass an hour.