The Green Fog
Capriciously related to the plot of Alfred Hitchcock´s Vertigo, Guy Maddin and brothers Evan & Galen Johnson´s The Green Fog is a parodical Frankenstein assembled from pieces from movies and television shows set in San Francisco. As it was commissioned by the San Francisco Film Society to be premiered at the close of the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival on April 16, 2017, the film has been easily classified as a tribute or homage, even a remake. Maddin himself has employed terms such as «emotional geography» and «rhapsody on Vertigo» when asked about this lecture on creative stealing and film scholarship with plenty of funny (sometimes sombre) echoes of a romantic thriller.
In some way The Green Fog invite us to forget Hitchcock and play with the idea of how ridiculous can be a film and/or some ways to watch it. Radical subtractions and humorous additions become tools to construct a weird artefact to prove that authorship survives any attempt to supplant its genuineness; it doesn´t matter who is implied, if Mr. Ed Wood or Sir Orson Welles. At the same time, Maddin and his witty henchmen emerge clear winners from this unsafe zone where Vertigo is a stimulating absence. Its exercise of style consists of unpicking the seam of this classic of suspense and replacing it with an anthology of homeless shots and guillotined conversations.
In this deliciously campy Atlas Mnemosyne of Frisco portrayed by cinema and TV, Maddin & the Johnson Brothers tie the tongues of some characters, launch a Hamletian, contemplative Chuck Norris, and reduce its main referent to a fragment of the stairs seen in the rooftop chase. Throughout this process what was a detective movie turns into a comedy, seriousness gives way to cunning frivolity. If it’s true that there’s always something of burlesque in films that supplant the mood of an original story by strained gravity sthen in The Green Fog any operation is permeated by a disquieting and typically maddinesque malice. The awareness of dealing with shots that have lost their natural hors-champs increases the strangeness of this creature begotten by cinephilia and an acute sense of the uncanny. Ceci n'est pas Hitchcock.
Text: Jorge Yglesias
First published: November 10, 2019