As publicity for the Hollywood and UK crop circle movies begins to mount, and the usual suspects leap aboard the PR gravy train, the BBC comes up with a curious nickname for last year’s all-time spectacular crop pattern, as ANDY THOMAS reports…
Publicity is already cranking up to promote the impending arrival this summer of the two fictional crop circle movies, the biggie from Hollywood with Mel Gibson, and the smaller-budget UK film.
Marcus Thompson, the director of the UK production ‘A Place To Stay’, which concerns gypsies in love cavorting around the crop circles of Wiltshire (see Summer 2001 archives), has been publicly active recently, with quotes from him peppering a recent BBC news website report. The movie is described as being “somewhere between a David Lean movie and a Ken Loach film”.
The article is fairly unrevealing; however, it is stated that the film will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May “in the hope of picking up a distribution deal” - which suggests it is not yet a given that the film will be released to cinemas.
Readers with long memories will, of course, recall that this was the production team that commissioned a man-made replica of the 1995 Longwood Warren ‘missing Earth’ formation at Alton Barnes last year. Having filmed scenes in that, the crew were then stunned (as was everyone else) by the arrival of the huge Milk Hill spiral, and decided that it must be included in the film. Thus, a central love scene between the main couple, originally planned to take place at the Avebury stones, was instead transplanted to occur within one of the 409 circles which made up the Milk Hill stunner. Aerial photographers with long lenses were thus treated to scenes of semi-naked rompings inside the largest crop formation ever to appear, while aggressive bouncers attempted (unsuccessfully – well, I pushed past, anyway) to prevent legitimate fee-paying people entering the field.
Something of the nature of the scenes filmed there must have stuck in the director’s mind, because according to the BBC report – stated casually, as if this were a name universally accepted by one and all - the formation is nicknamed “The Orgasm”… Shurely shome mishtake?
If anyone out there has been using this term before now as their pet name for this particular formation, then we’d like to hear from you, because it’s news to us!
Meanwhile, evil-minded people will gain some amusement at the line “To ensure scientific accuracy in the script, Marcus enlisted the services of acknowledged crop circle expert Colin Andrews”... Well-known scientist Reg Presley is also apparently a consultant, and both make cameo appearances during the course of the movie.
Veteran researcher Andrews, despite believing 80% of formations to be man-made, has also moved in on the US movie ‘Signs’, with e-mail press releases bursting with all the grandiose hyperbole the circular world has come to expect from him, boasting of his involvement with publicity for the film. In fact, from these one could be forgiven for thinking the films exist to promote Andrews, rather than the other way around. (The excitable language should be treated with caution: one line reads: “This week Colin signed contracts to take a prominent part in another major television documentary for The Learning Channel, to be aired to coincide with 'Signs'”. As it happens, I, together with certain other researchers, am also part of this production - but didn’t issue a press release! The ‘contracts’ would appear to be little more than the standard release forms any participant in a TV programme is required to sign. Sounds good, though, doesn’t it?)
Others thinking of jumping on the movie PR bandwagon may like to pause for reflection, however, in the light of recent public comments. Both M Night Shyamalan, the director of ‘Signs’, and Mel Gibson, the star, have both been quoted in interviews as stating that they believe the entire crop circle phenomenon is man-made, but that it is a quaint idea for a movie. Hardly an encouraging start.
Movies are movies and as such we should all look forward to these forthcoming releases as good bits of entertainment based loosely around something we’re interested in. However, the view being peddled by the PR bandwagonists - that the films will somehow promote education about the real phenomenon - is blatantly a false one. They will stir up welcome interest, yes, and it’s fair enough to capitalise on this for the sake of getting people interested in the real thing, but the movies will doubtless leave many false impressions about crop circles. After all, you don’t go to the cinema for truth, but escape. We’ve already seen how the web trailer for ‘Signs’ doesn’t even acknowledge that England has ever had crop circles (see our previous reports).
From the quoted opinions of the director and star of ‘Signs’, those researchers fronting the film PR scuttlebutt, high-percentage hoax believers though they may be, run the risk of being used, as the totally sceptical filmmakers surely snigger at them from behind their hands, happy to let those they must see as misguided suckers go out and promote their work for them. The self-promotion gained by the researchers may ultimately come at a high price in terms of the damaged credibility they could suffer if the films are no good.
Still, for a night of escapism, I’ll have my seat booked at the local multiplex. Popcorn circles, anyone?
You can find the original BBC report at: