Films: The Chilbolton Incident

Oct 17, 2023 | Books & Media | 0 comments

The Chilbolton Incident

Directed by Emil Marczak
Available on Amazon Prime Video

‘In 1974, NASA sent a message into deep space, containing information about humanity and earth. 27 years later a response appears in Chilbolton, England. Is it a ingeniously sophisticated joke, or is it something else?’

Chilbolton Observatory, 2023. Photograph by Crop Circle Explorer

If Allan Brown and John Michell’s book Crooked Solely was a dedicated look at one solitary crop circle event, then director Emil Marczak’s The Chilbolton Incident could be interpreted as its immensely weaker, less interesting and rather unintelligent digital cousin.

The film concerns the joint discovery, in 2001, of the ‘Arecibo response’ and ‘the human face’ crop formations on the same day, adjacent to the Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire. Through the words of Lucy Pringle, Monique Klinkenbergh and a rather badly recorded narrator we’re filled in on the interesting background of the message that was beamed into space by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in 1974, and the contents of the apparent response that manifested in a wheat field some ten miles from Winchester. Great, but along with a brief commentary on ‘the face’, we’re left with very little else of note on either subject and head down the predictable rabbit hole of potential causes. 

The 2001 Chilbolton Observatory crop circles. Photograph by Steve Alexander

When we do look at the possibles we see this film for what it really is. Another biased look at the crop circle phenomenon built on wishful thinking. Notably, we have a defence of the long debunked Oliver’s Castle video by ufologist Coen Vermeeren. Apparently there just wasn’t the equipment to make the such good effects in a studio in 1996. Though, of course, let’s conveniently forget that the effects laden Independence Day was the biggest movie of the year. Let’s forget that the Oliver’s Castle film’s maker, John Wabe, admitted his involvement and he worked in a production studio.

And then there’s Janet Ossebaard. Seemingly placed in front of the camera to demolish the man made hypothesis, the croppie turned conspiracy loop takes us through BLT’s bent and blown nodes, commenting that Doug and Dave couldn’t explain the biophysical changes or the geometry in their crop circles. Big deal, most people can’t explain the biophysical changes of ageing, but it still happens to each of us. I can’t explain how record players work but they still do. As for the geometry, Bower and Chorley made simple circles, rings and some straight lines. The geometric phase of the circles’ evolution came from elsewhere.

Crop circle made by at Waden Hill, Avebury, Wiltshire in July 1999. Photograph by Steve Alexander

To cap things off, we’re then given an explanation by the narrator as to how it would be ‘near impossible’ for humans to make crop circles in the south of England due to the undulating landscape. They’d get a mess, rather than a circle, apparently, as they use a tape attached to a stake. It’s a ridiculous suggestion, especially given how we’ve seen crop circles made on slopes as demonstrations for the media. Take the example of what produced on Waden Hill in Avebury (above) during the summer of 1999 for the Daily Mail. 

All said and done beyond some decent camera work, The Chilbolton Incident feels like a bit of a cheat; it uses two all time great crop circles as a way to steal an unbalanced, horrendously flawed look at the entire phenomenon. You are left asking just how many more pieces of fluff must we put up with again and again until we finally get another decent circles documentary? Or perhaps we are simply getting the nonsense we deserve in the age of cheap streamed content, where seemingly any crap can get a viewing platform?

The 2001 crop circles at Chilbolton deserve better. There was so much to say about these formations — but Emil Marczak sells us short.