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At the end of the episode Three Coins in a Fuchsbau

Nick is watching a film with Adolf Hitler, and Hitler's appearance changes, allowing Nick to see that he is a Wesen.

I had assumed that the ability to see Wesen for what they are is something that is mystical in nature. A film simply records whatever light/images are cast upon it, so if a Wesen changes shape, humans should see it on film, or if it is a mystical thing, it shouldn't be recorded on the film.

How is it that this transformation was visible on an ordinary reel of film, and that only a Grimm (or presumably other Wesen) can see it?

  • Monroe said he wouldn't be able to identify whether or not the girl was a Blutbad from a photo in the Rapunzel episode. But Monroe isn't a Grimm. – user5351 Mar 16 '12 at 3:56
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The human eye can't detect very much of the light spectrum: enter image description here

A film reel, as far as I know, creates an exact imprint of what hits the reel. If the Wessen shift happens outside of the normally-visible light spectrum, the reel could capture it, even though normal humans are unable to see it.

The Grimm ability to see Wessen could then easily be explained by a mutation that allows them to see light in the light range where the shift happens - 750-800 nm, for example. This would also explain why it's passed down through the family, even though it looks like a mystical ability.

*I had written this answer from the POV of digital film, forgetting the question mentioned an old-fashioned film reel (And, I'm a few episodes behind). Answer contains the same wavelength idea - except digital recordings can't record exactly what the human eye can detect.

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    Most film isn't affected by radiation emissions far outside the human range of vision. It's not a desirable property - you don't want heat, for example, to throw it off. Furthermore the film in question was sepia, which works by capturing total energy within a certain frequency range. If the film was sensitive to some special Wessen/Grimm-only ranges, then such film would be an effective tool for anyone to see Wessen. – user1030 Mar 3 '12 at 19:17
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    @JoeWreschnig Doesn't need to be far outside the human range of vision - even the tiniest bit would allow what I describe. If it wasn't sepia, that is. I don't know a whole lot about how that works, so I'll concede that point ;) – Izkata Mar 3 '12 at 19:25
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I suspect Nick could see it because it was a visible to everyone. In reality, we don't have any videos of Hitler with those coins on his lapels. If Grimm takes place in our universe that means this isn't a video of a Nazi rally that anyone in the public has seen before.

This meshes nicely with the letter Kolt had from Himmler, as it was about how he had a responsibility to take actions to maintain the safety and image of the Führer. At first we figured it was just a stock letter sent to SS officers. But in light of the contents of the tape it could also be specific orders to keep the information on the tape from reaching anyone else.

Given the level of control Hitler had over the media, it's well within the realm of possibility for him to have confiscated or destroyed all other records of the event, and gotten everyone who might have seen it to never speak of it. (Even easier if he had coins with mystical leadership powers.)

(As an aside,

A film simply records whatever light/images are cast upon it... if it is a mystical thing, it shouldn't be recorded on the film.

The nature of something mystical is that it doesn't make sense. There's no rule that says mystical things can't also show up on film, except that in the real world, we don't have mystical things to record.

At least so far though, the show has had a relatively low level of mysticality (hereditary Grimm powers, poisons and weapons rather than spells, everything occupies normal physical spaces). So I think it's fair to ask the question in the first place, but "Because it's mystical" is an answer unto itself, not a reason it can't be.)

  • +1 because it does seem likely no one else had seen that particular film. This question made me catch up on the series.. =) – Izkata Mar 3 '12 at 21:47
  • This was a good answer, but absent any canonical answer, the other one made more sense to me. If true, it would answer a great deal of questions. I did vote yours up, though. – David Stratton Mar 6 '12 at 0:29
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Maybe what we see is an interpretation of what his senses are telling him. So it's not like the face actually transforms physically, that's just an interpretation of his sixth sense. So perhaps that's why he can see it on video, because it's something his sense is translating for him. It could really be coming from their eyes or mannerisms or a combination.

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After Adalind took Nick’s power to see wesen, he went to an eye doctor of some sort, and they spoke of some people having a fourth or even fifth type of cone in their eyes.

So, perhaps part of being a Grimm involves having an eye mutation that allows seeing into the IR or UV or both. Is there some mystical reason why he couldn’t see wesen until his aunt was dying, or is it just that the mutation didn’t fully develop until then? Like some people having genes for schizophrenia, but it doesn’t hit until late teens or early twenties.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This might work if the film somehow captured and replayed light outside the 380-740nm range, but it's a monochrome film. Note that the question was specifically about how a Grimm recognizes a Wesen on an old film. – DavidW Mar 27 '20 at 20:38

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