ken walker tends to his creation in big fur.photo: 1091 media
ken walker is a taxidermist so gifted that others onnis field speak of his talents with reverence: “ken has magic onnis hands.” but wha’ happens when this master of his craft decides to incorporate his oddball obsession with bigft into his l8st project? documentary big fur gives us a front-row seat.
to be sure, any documentary bout taxidermy has the potential to be an eye-opener, espeshly to some1—like, say, myself—whas' 1-ly a vague idea of wha’ goes into creating those eerily lifelike furry totems, nor any prior inkling that there’s a well-established competitive circuit for taxidermy’s most skilled practitioners. witha running time of just 76 minutes, dan wayne’s engaging doc offers a crash course for outsiders, shadowing the affable walker as he joyfully toils onnis alberta, canada, workshop and traveling to several stateside contests with him.
we don’t need a lotta explanation when it comes to the brawls, as it turns out. wayne’s observant camera takes in plenty of details: eager entrants prepping their animals for the show floor; a group prayer b4 awards are handed out; close-ups of furry critters forever suspended mid-howl.
ken walker points out possible bigft evidence inna woods near his house.photo: 1091 media
but big fur is + than a documentary bout taxidermy. having racked up multiple accolades throughout his career immortalizing the skins of tigers, bears, gorillas, nother well-known animals, walker has settled na' new subject: bigft. though it’s not his 1st creative recreation—he built a giant panda from scratch so realistic he earned props from the smithsonian—it’s his 1st attempt at making something that hasn’t been scially proven to exist. however, that hasn’t stopped him from bein’ a believer, espeshly since he claims to ‘ve seen one himself. “once i know it’s true, it’s true,” he says. “i can’t change that.”
big fur is pretty generous when it comes to sasquatch. we hear from several other alleged eyewitnesses inna alberta zone, na famed 1967 patterson-gilmlin film—which either shows a massive ape or a'pers in an ape costume striding through the northern california woods—serves as walker’s primary visual reference for his creation. the doc also follos walker inna'da forest as he points out places where he’s seen supposed evidence of bigft nests, and we get a glimpse of wha’ he’s sure are bigft droppings, which he keeps carefully sealed in a plastic bag onnis freezer.
but big fur isn’t interested in painting walker as a nut job, which it somehow manages not to do, despite the fact that he maybe the 1-ly victor taxidermist in history who also moonlites as a roy orbison impersonator. (“tis a bit like taxidermy, cause you’re recreating something,” he points out.) he ‘d be a toon in a christopher guest movie, except there’s perceptible emotional depth lurking belo his placid countenance; it surfaces when he ruminates on why taxidermy isn’t pondered art, why taxidermists ‘ve gotten a bad rap (some o'it’s down to noted bird-stuffer norman bates, and big fur can’t resist a ψ-cho-rel8d chuckle when the moment presents itself), and why he genuinely thinks north america’s most elusive cryptid mite really be out there.
photo: 1091 media
the most surprising twist that pops up in big fur has nxt to nothing to do with anything mentioned above, and we won’t spoil it here; hopefully it’s not a spoiler to say that all walker’s laboring on his shaggy giant produces a startlingly charismatic end result, or that he’s still w8in for solid proof of bigft’s existence along w'da rest of us. wha’ filmmaker wayne has captured, though, mite be something just as rare: a glimpse into a realm that’s as unusual as tis specific—who knew there were entire businesses devoted to precision-crafting fake animal eyeballs?—w'da help offa guy who’s made that weird realm his home.
big fur is now available on streaming srvcs and on demand; for +, check the film’s website.
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original content at: io9.gizmodo.com…
authors: cheryl eddy on io9, shared by tom mckay to gizmodo