A lot of headlines today are trumpeting the Loch Ness monster has been found. Only when you click, you discover it’s not an actual creature, but a prop. What’s going on? Why is this even a big deal? Here’s what you need to know.
VisitScotland and the Loch Ness Project have been looking for the camera-shy, Google-dodging Nessie (or big ol’ catfish people think is Nessie) yet again, this time using advanced submersibles and imaging technology. And they did find something, a creature, even, just not the creature they were expecting: They’ve managed to uncover a film prop.
The prop itself is from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, a movie from 1970 from Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot) about the contrast between the “real” Holmes and the exploits in his short stories. Loch Ness, both the lake and the legend surrounding it, figures heavily into the plot; in the story, Nessie turns out to be cover for a submarine experiment being run by Holmes’ brother Mycroft in service to the crown. In dedication to the gritty realism of the title, said submarine is staffed entirely by little people due to the scientific fact that gaggles of little people are funny to 1970s audiences.
The prop wound up at the bottom of the lake thanks to Billy Wilder, a brilliant filmmaker but not a physicist. The original prop had two humps that helped keep it afloat, which Wilder ordered removed despite warnings the prop would sink. Sure enough, once they were removed, it did precisely that and until now, it’s been at the bottom of the loch. That disaster, combined with lighting problems on location, forced Wilder to shoot his Nessie scenes in a water tank instead.
So, yeah, very technically, a Loch Ness monster has been found. But it’s more interesting to film historians than it is to cryptozoologists. On the bright side, we’re pretty sure the guys hunting for Bigfoot won’t find a prop from Harry and the Hendersons in the woods, so at least that’s off their plate.
(Via the BBC)