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Bigmouth!

Media Review by Joe Cornwall

 

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Glen Lau went to Marion County Florida in the early half of the 1970's to meet with Homer Circle, long-time angling editor of Sports Afield magazine and an Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) member since 1946.  He intended to make the movie Bassin' Man, the story of Homer and others as a bass fishing pros.

As fortune would have it, Glen went fishing with the owner of important property that is part of Silver Springs.  Silver Springs is the site of one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world, producing nearly 550 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily. Silver Springs forms the headwaters of the Silver River, which empties into the Ocklawaha River, a part of the St. Johns River system.  What he saw there was rich aquatic life, thousands of bass and water that provided "50 yards of clarity."

The plan got changed.  Glen saw an opportunity to make a unique documentary; one that would explore the real life and times of the largemouth bass itself.  "I wanted to make the movie for me," says Lau.  It became a personal quest to dispel the myths and learn the real truth about America's number one game fish.  Two weeks of filming turned into two months of filming.  Two months turned into two years.  When it was over, Bigmouth! was the definitive study of our most important inland aquatic asset. 

 

The movie was released to unwavering praise.  At many showings, crowds three or four times the available seatiing showed up and often the demand meant additional screenings needed to be added.  The movie played in art houses and documentary theaters, auditoriums and club houses around the nation.  At the time, Shakespeare was a sponsor.  In "1977 or '76, in there" says Lau, he bought back 100% of the rights to Bigmouth from Shakespeare.

Today, the original film, as theatrically released in 1974, has been digitally transferred with new material from Glen Lau and renowned bass expert “Uncle” Homer Circle (pictured above).  The DVD will be unveiled at the Bassmaster Classic in February.  This film has never been televised in its 35-year history, and what you see on the DVD is "one generation down from the original film" according to Lau.  Talking about the transfer, Glen said "it was first transferred onto Beta SP... it hasn't been enhanced for sharpness or focus... this is what the film looks like."  The production was originally shot on Kodachrome 25.

This legendary film, scripted by Parker Bauer and narrated by the inimitable Rod Serling, describes the lifecycle of the largemouth bass in and around it’s natural habitat.  Glen Lau’s underwater cinematography captures the complete birth to death odyssey of bigmouth in a definitive, one-of-a-kind study.

I've watched the screening copy at least three times since I received it.  I first viewed this film on a 42" Panasonic TH42PX80U plasma using a Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD Player via an HDMI connection.  I finally had to experience it in a theatrical environment and arranged to screen it in a custom state-of-the-art home theater featuring a high-definition wide-screen projection system best measured in feet. To say that I was stunned is an understatement.  The still images used to illustrate this article are actual captures from the film.  The depth of field, saturation of color, incredible vibrancy and presence of life in each and every shot has got to be seen to be believed.   It is almost impossible to believe this movie isn't recorded using the latest, small and powerful HDTV technology!  This film achieved a level of cinematography that absolutely pushes the very boundaries of its time, and it survives the three decades of broadcast evolution without need for even the first note of apology.

There is material on this film that fundamentally changed our understanding of the biology and behavior of the largemouth bass.  Discoveries made in the filming of this documentary have gone on to change textbook dogma and provide fisheries biologists with a new way of looking at Micropterus salmoides, and by extension virtually every other warmwater game fish.

BIGMOUTH-The 35th Anniversary Edition is available for sale through www.glenlau.com for $19.99. The DVD may not be available in all stores at this time; you should ask the manager at your local Bass Pro Shop, Cabela's or Gander Mountain to order copies. It's worth every penny.

There is also a broadcast version of Bigmouth that will be released early in 2009.  If you'd like to see Bigmouth broadcast for the first time in 35 years, write to your local station or cable company.

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