The Patterson-Gimlin Footage, often abbreviated to PGF, or more commonly referred to as the Patterson Film, is the most iconic and controversial evidence of the existence of Bigfoot to date. It is said to be the second most analyzed piece of film in American History, right behind the Zapruder Film (JFK assassination).
The footage was taken on October 20, 1967 by the late Roger Patterson and his partner, Robert "Bob" Gimlin. The film was shot in Bluff Creek, California, 25 miles northwest of Orleans. Roger, a known Bigfoot enthusiast, was called to investigate the area after several tracks were found.
The Sasquatch in the film has come to be known as "Patty." This is a feminized version of Roger's last name.
The Bluff Creek Expedition
On Friday, October 20, 1967, Roger Patterson and partner Robert "Bob" Gimlin set out on horseback to Bluff Creek, California, to investigate possible Bigfoot sightings. This was an area that had only recently been opened up, having been an untamed wilderness some years prior. Roger brought his 16mm rental camera with 100 feet of film, hopeful they would find Bigfoot.
Should they encounter a Sasquatch on their expedition, the two agreed only to fire if it displayed hostile or aggressive behavior toward them.
Sometime before 2:00 PM, the two arrived at an overturned tree at a turn in the creek. Suddenly, the horses went wild, as did Roger when he spotted the ape-like being on the other side of the creek, about 100 feet away. Patterson asked his partner to cover him with his rifle while he pursued the creature. Struggling to whip out his camera and cross the creek to get a closer look, the first seconds of the clip are very shaky. Patterson, now about 80 feet away from the creature, is able to stabilize his camera in time to catch the Sasquatch give him "a look of disgust." The creature, however, kept on its path through the sandbar of Bluff Creek. Patterson's film ran out shortly after, and the Sasquatch was lost in the underbrush.
After rounding up the horses, the duo returned to the sandbar in hopes of spotting the creature again. While Patty was nowhere to be found, the two did notice disturbed gravel and a large wet footprint on a rock leading straight up the cliffside. Later, investigating the cliff, a large wet patch was found in the mud, presumably where Patty had been sitting. Patterson and Gimlin suspect the creature was watching them for quite some time before moving on.
After the expedition, the 100 feet of film consisted of about 76 feet of horseback footage and 24 feet (approximately 59 seconds) of Sasquatch film.
The duo brought plaster later that day and made casts of the footprints before leaving in hopes of recruiting a search party. The two planned to return to Bluff Creek to search for their Sasquatch that day, but warnings of heavy rain changed their minds, fearing their exit may be flooded, thus trapping them in Bluff Creek. As expected, the area flooded that night, taking down trees and expurgating any evidence of a Sasquatch.
"Patty" is the Sasquatch we see in the PG film. This name comes from feminizing Roger's last name (Patterson), and is not to be confused with Roger's wife Patricia (sometimes called "Pat").
From the footage, should it be considered evidence of a real biological entity, we can tell the Sasquatch is female, with well developed breasts. The creature is very likely bulking up for the cold winter ahead, though she possesses great muscle mass also. She was supposedly around 7 feet tall and weighed anywhere from 300 to 350 pounds, judging by the depth of the footprints.
Patty possesses a coat of "short black hair" that covers everything but the bottoms of her feet. Her head slopes back from the brow into a point, similar to archaic man or ape rather than modern human. She has very long arms, pragmatic considering her low-set breasts, and a non-conspicuous neck.
It was said that her walk changed to be more aggressive as Patterson approached, even turning into a flat-out sprint once she reached the tree-line.
Claims of Hoax
Many skeptics call this footage a hoax due to the fact many men have come forward claiming their involvement in the "hoax."
Bob Heironimus, a friend of Roger Patterson, claimed to have played the Sasquatch in the footage, although Heironimus initially denied any involvement in the film and didn't testify his involvment until 1999, 32 years later. Heironimus states that he rode out to Bluff Creek with Patterson and Gimlin and was offered $1,000 to wear the suit for a minute, though the money was apparently never given to him. To add bulk to his figure, Heironimus claimed to have worn a football helmet, football pads and hip waders beneath the fur suit.
There are discrepancies that exist in Heironimus' memory of what the suit was made of. In one story, he claims the costume used actual horse hide, while he later claims it used dynel nylon threads stitched to a woven cloth backing for fur. Attempting to recreate this, however, researchers achieved an effect very unlike the creature we see in the film.Phillip Morris, of Morris Costumes, purportedly received a call one day from a rodeo-cowboy identifying himself as Roger Patterson. According to Morris, Roger was in need of a monkey suit "for a gag." Phillip Morris claimed to have fabricated the suit we see in the footage in the basement of his shop, which he later sold to Patterson for a little over $400. However, Morris' attempt to recreate the costume produced less-than-spectacular results dissimilar to what we see in the footage.
A man named Ray Wallace claimed to have been placing fake footprints along the Bluff Creek area since 1958, although this testimony has also been tested and thought unreliable.
There are many reasons to believe that what we see in the PGF may be a true biological being rather than a man (or woman) in a fur suit. When studying the evidence, it is important to keep in mind the time the footage was taken and the limitations of the time in regards to costume quality.
- Contours: There are several contours on our subject, notably on the back and hips, that can be observed in humans and apes. A furrow line runs to the midpoint of Patty's back before being overshadowed by a well developed trapezius muscle. This can be observed in humans, especially muscular ones, in a slouched over pose like Patty's. Hip contours are also present, thought by some to be a divide between two pieces of a costume, that are also seen in humans, especially those with excess weight.
- Head: Patty is seen to have a head more similar to primitive man than modern man. After the prominent brow ridge the head slopes straight back to a point. Such a head shape can be observed in other hominids. Creating a mask with these proportions proved difficult during this time. This can be observed in several films that were released in the years following.
- Breasts: In one part of the film, Patty appears to misjudge the ground and falls with more weight than expected. This causes her breasts to move in such a way that only real breasts can. It has been attempted to create such movement with prosthetic breasts using the materials of the time, however this failed to produce movement similar to what we see in the film.
- Muscle Movement: What appears to be muscle movement can be observed in the right leg of the subject in certain frames.
- Body Proportions: Many studies have been conducted on the film subject pertaining to its body ratios in relation with those of a human being. In these analyses, it is usually concluded that the arms of the Patterson/Gimlin Subject are much longer than those of a human being. While humans have arms about 20% shorter than their legs, the creature we see in the film appears to have only a 5% difference.
Many lines and contours seen on Patty only occur in humans with excess body fat. With the month of filming being October, it has been reasoned that Patty has significant amounts of fat built up for the winter season, similar to many other animals. It has also been reasoned that Patty has such a well-developed trapezius muscle from lifting logs to find nutrients, or climbing trees.
The Massacre Theory
In 2006, a new and longer version of the PG film was released. The copy was much longer and showed eight men killing a family of Bigfoot. According to the story, the film starts off shaky and three Sasquatch are seen entering the picture. The creatures are digging in the sand when they are attacked by a sudden hail of gunfire which comes from the tree line. One of the Bigfoot is instantly shot dead and another bolts for the woods.
The remaining Sasquatch strangely just walks off in the direction of the tree line. As the Bigfoot moves, the men continue to take shots at it from a distance. The walking Bigfoot is said to be the one you see in the popular film. In 2008, Bigfoot researcher M. K. Davis, who specializes in video stabilization, began to endorse the massacre story and claimed that he found evidence for the event. He says that a bloody Sasquatch corpse can be seen in a hole at the beginning of the film, in the earliest frames. Davis also points to a picture which shows Bob Titmus, Dale Moffit, and a white dog named White Lady next to a pile of red material. Davis has speculated that the Bigfoot seen the video was shot twice (once in the leg) and then hunted down. The story also mentions another film which is said to show a bunch of men dragging one of the lifeless bodies, placing it on a tarp or a pool cover, and then cutting it up.
This theory has possibly been debunked by researchers. In one copy of the PG film, a particle of noise was whitened and blurred, making it appear as if it was a muzzle flash from a gun. This particle, or "muzzle flash" is not seen in the original copy of the PGF.
To the right is the original Patterson-Gimlin footage.