The San Francisco International Film Festival had a pretty ambitious idea for its 60th anniversary: commission filmmaker Guy Maddin to construct a new cinematic love letter to San Francisco using movies and television shows set around the city. To hear Maddin tell it though, that idea quickly evolved into something more focused on a single film, Alfred Hitchock‘s seminal classic “Vertigo.” The resulting feature is titled “The Green Fog — A San Francisco Fantasia” and it closed the San Francisco Film Festival with live musical accompaniment from the Kronos Quartet.
In a new feature up at IndieWire, Maddin explained that the original idea was to make a shot-for-shot remake of “Vertigo” using the footage that he and his partners had assembled from over 200 features set in San Francisco. ““With the kind of ridiculous hubris you need at the beginning of a project, we decided to do a shot by shot remake,” Maddin explained. “Of course, that was impossible. You can’t. There’s no point. It’s more fun to remake a movie in this fashion. You’re vivisecting it, playing around with it.” As time went on, the group discovered that the theme and visual motifs of their project had begun to assemble around a single film. As Maddin notes, “I thought maybe we would just show it to the Kronos Quartet and let them make it pretty. But while we were watching the footage, we noticed that little bits of “Vertigo” floated up to us, in the form of both homage and coincidences.”
One critic in attendance, The Village Voice‘s Bilge Ebiri, described the movie as “60 minutes of men looking at women, men looking at men, driving, suicide, betrayal, towers, falling. Hilarious and strangely moving.” While Maddin’s plans for distribution may be anybody’s guess – and, depending on the licenses involved, awfully tricky – it sounds like “The Green Fog – A San Francisco Fantasia” is one of the must-see pieces of avant-garde cinema to hit theaters this year.
Here’s the full description of the film courtesy of the San Francisco Film Festival website:
Maddin, working with his Forbidden Room collaborators, set himself the challenge to remake “Vertigo” without using footage from the Hitchcock classic, creating a “parallel-universe version,” in his words. Using Bay Area footage from a variety of sources — studio classics, ‘50s noir, experimental films, and ‘70s prime-time TV — and employing Maddin’s mastery of assemblage, the result exerts the inexorable pull of Hitchcock’s tale of erotic obsession while paying tribute to our fair city.
Cross your fingers that this one finds its way to a theater near you.