Thursday, February 7, 2013

Searching for Nessie

Over the past week I've been watching some of the video material I found, mainly Incident at Loch Ness, a mockumentary (IMDB link here) and two episodes of Monsterquest, 101 and 301 (Youtube links here and here-this Youtube user has all 4 seasons posted). These resources have a common theme of people going out to look for Nessie/Champ (as MQ101 is about Champ, "America's Loch Ness Monster") with varying levels of success.

Incident at Loch Ness is a movie within a movie, as it starts out as a documentary of Werner Hertzog's career and his newest expedition to find the Loch Ness Monster, which is being filmed as a documentary produced by Zak Penn. Various shenanigans ensue, including Penn attempting to hoax the expedition by hiring a fake cryptozoologist (as he puts it, "you wanted obsessed and credible. Well, that's pretty much impossible"), having an assistant build a Nessie model to float as a sighting, and hiring a model/actress to be a "sonar expert" and jump into the Loch (!) in a tiny American flag bikini (!!). Hertzog becomes increasingly irritated by Penn's hijinks, but continues the expedition anyway. While on the loch, the crew see what is supposed to be Nessie and are attacked by something, eventually clinging to the wreckage of their boat until tourists rescue them, under direction from Penn, who previously escaped the attack by stealing the lifeboat. Two of the crew supposedly died, but Herzog was able to capture a blurry image of the Nessie using camera in a waterproof rig.

Since none of the cast/crew are listed as dead in the IMDB listing, it's pretty obvious that this isn't a real account, but it does reflect many of the sightings and common stories of Nessie: that it's alive and well in the Loch, has a long neck and snakelike head, is a very large animal, and is aggressive if provoked.

In the Monsterquest episodes I watched, a character from I@LN appears: Adrian Shine, a marine biologist at the Loch Ness centre. Although Nessie is only the subject of one MQ episode (301, "Death of the Loch Ness Monster"), I also watched the first episode, "America's Loch Ness Monster", about Champ, the lake monster of Lake Champlain in New England, since I thought it might have some similar theories. Episode 301 focused on the final expedition of Robert Rines, a lawyer from Massachusetts who was best known for his search for Nessie, which started with a 1972 sighting. This expedition focused on finding a Nessie carcass, as Rines believed that the creature must have died out due to lack of sonar readings and decline in eyewitness reports. Although his expeditions led to multiple theories and intriguing photographs, they ultimately failed to uncover anything concrete. As with most MQ episodes, nothing results from the investigation, but it "continues", as they say at the end of each episode.

Although these shows were entertaining to watch, I think they are more on the side of not being credible. Obviously I@LN is a mockumentary, not meant to take seriously, but the MQ episodes are as well. In each episode, they give you a preface or background on the 'monster', then do an elaborate investigation that ultimately results in nothing. While it was on air, MQ must have been a great source of money to monster-hunters, since the true believers are the ones who want to spend the time looking but maybe don't have the equipment necessary.

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