The 2011 feature Letters from the Big Man is the most bemusing Bigfoot film I have ever watched. At times more meditation than movie, it’s like a love letter featuring an enigmatic Sasquatch and a woman ready to surrender to nature.
Directed by Christopher Munch, Letters from the Big Man feels like a passion project. After viewing it on Amazon Prime Video, I still don’t know what to think of it. But it did make me think. I checked the critically acclaimed film’s rating on the review site Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience score of 52% confirmed my suspicions. It’s not an easy movie to categorize. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote at the time, “‘Letters from the Big Man’ will mystify some, please others with its serenity, and be unlike any Bigfoot movie you have ever imagined.” That sums up the reaction I had.
Darrin Jones, a talented blacksmith in Alabama, recommended the film to me. Darrin and his wife create and sell custom merchandise, including items stamped with the Bigfoot logo. I purchased a Bigfoot keyring and four Bigfoot coasters from them at a gun show last year. Their business is located on Facebook under “Jones Knives and Leatherworks.”
Letters from the Big Man revolves around a Forest Service employee named Sarah Smith played by an excellent Lily Rabe. In the aftermath of a recently ended relationship, Sarah copes by accepting a solo job to study rainwater run-off in a remote forest impacted by fires.
What follows is a slow burn tale as Sarah enjoys the isolation of nature while Bigfoot watches her from a distance. Sarah meets an environmental activist to break up her solitude. There’s a subplot involving a secret government plan to build an intelligence center to study Bigfoot for military reasons. Apparently, the CIA thinks the Big Man employs extrasensory abilities ripe for exploiting.
However, the focus of the film is more on feelings than plot, although it’s difficult to discern what Bigfoot feels. Sadness mixed with hopefulness, maybe? Sarah’s feelings are profoundly affected by her time in nature. She draws artwork of Bigfoot from her dreams, and she desires to live with the creatures in the same way Dian Fossey immersed herself with the gorillas.
Yes, Letters from the Big Man is a strangely serene film, but as a Bigfoot enthusiast, I enjoyed it. The makeup department’s dignified interpretation of Bigfoot and the subtle acting of Isaac C. Singleton Jr. reinforced my ideal version of Sasquatch as a patient and peaceful creature struggling to make sense of humanity’s self-destructive behavior.
At one point, a character says of Bigfoot, “It’s all about the heart with them.” Perhaps that’s the message of the movie. Maybe the filmmaker hopes Bigfoot can say the same about humanity one day.
NEXT UP: Chapter Thirty-Nine: Man vs. Bigfoot. I review the 2021 film directed by David D. Ford.