Much like Scottie’s consuming obsession in Vertigo, its hyperactive cousin, The Green Fog, is a labour of love. Directors Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson use San Francisco-based film and television like cinematic putty to remake Vertigo in a strange new image; Frankenstein’s monster to Hitchcock’s original.
The Green Fog is a creative feat, and not just in how it conveys Vertigo’s storyline with impressive coherence. Most conversation scenes are composed of rapid, jumpy snippets of someone’s facial expression mid-sentence. And yet, it hosts an array of intertextual conversations and winking asides, all with the “characters” saying just a handful of words.
This is not an exercise in showy, undetectable editing. Favouring meta over match-for-match shots (a lesson well learned from Gus Van Sant’s Psycho), The Green Fog uses unexpected material to poke fun at its own construction. Some scenes inside a surveillance room (re-conceived as a cutting room) set up some really funny interjections on Vertigo and editing in general.
Although the treasure trove of found footage that forms this Hitchockian hodgepodge span decades, from The Birds to Basic Instinct, the feel as a whole is pure John Carpenter, with touches of a Stephen King B-movie reboot. The frantic air to Vertigo is amplified until it reaches the ’80s horror notch in The Green Fog, as the obsessions of the original appear to live on through film history. Just as, through Scottie’s searching eyes, the face of Madeleine lived in Jude or Carlotta in Vertigo, so too does she live in every woman in The Green Fog.
Playful, ingenious, and rightly short-but-sweet, The Green Fog is a festival gem. Only occasionally does it get a little lost to its own mad gas – but Jacob Garchik’s superb soundtrack pulls things together so tightly thematically that it really is impossible not to get intoxicated too.
DIRECTORS: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson
SYNOPSIS: An exploration and remake of Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo, made using found footage from over 100 San Francisco-based films and television shows.