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Nessie on Film

Nessie on Film

No monster in history has been pursued as actively as the creature that is said to inhabit the depths of Loch Ness in Scotland. Since 1936, there have been 27 recorded films taken of "Nessie" and hundreds of officially recorded sightings.

Although hundreds of photographs of the Loch Ness Monster have been taken and alleged to be authentic, all but a very few have been easily explained by scientists as ripples in the lake's surface, floating debris, or deliberate hoaxes.

A new controversy regarding the authenticity of a series of photographs of Nessie arose in September 2002 when Roy Johnston, a retired printer, released four photographs to the media that showed a large snakelike creature arching out of the water and withdrawing beneath the surface of the lake with a splash. While some photographic experts declared the pictures to be genuine, others scoffed and argued that the images were not taken in sequence, as Johnston had said they were.

In 2001 Janet McBain, curator of the Scottish Screen Archive, found the original 16mm film that first launched the Nessie craze. Made on September 22, 1936, by Glasgow filmmaker Macolm Irvine for the Scottish Film Productions Company, the film had become nearly as legendary as the lake monster that it depicted. McBain said that while the existence of the Irvine newsreel was well documented, it was thought to have been destroyed and lost.

According to eyewitness accounts, Irvine had first sighted the creature in 1933, but his camera jammed. Three years later, Irvine and his film crew spent three weeks at the lakeside before he got the footage he wanted. On the footage, which lasts about one minute, the creature's head and neck appear above the surface of the water, then its two humps, one behind the other, and finally what appears to be a tail, thrashing behind from side to side.

The area near the ruins of Urquhart Castle at Drumnadrochit is still the most common vantage point for Nessie sightings and is said to attract more than 200,000 visitors per year.


fraser, stephen. "new nessie pictures spark debate." scotland on sunday, september 8, 2002. [online]

milne, meg. "unearthed: the 1936 film that first launched nessie mania." scotland on sunday, november 25, 2001. [online]

watson-smyth, kate. "heritage panel rules on how to hunt for nessie." independent, january 5, 2001. [online]

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