The story of Vertigo is retold using footage from dozens of films set in San Francisco. These include comedies, thrillers and dramas. The eclectic scenes are edited to exclude most dialogue and interact with each other in interesting ways. The footage is occasionally altered to include different elements such as a mysterious Green Fog, seemingly inspired by the green haze that cloaks Kim Novak’s revenant in Hichcock’s suspense masterpiece.
The Kulyshov Effect is thoroughly explored as reaction shot is paired with completely different stimulus, radically changing the nature the shot, sometimes comedically. All kinds of fun can be had with characters staring sternly at a monitor. The congruence that is often achieved with these disparate elements is very entertaining and a testament to the power of good editing.
One very familiar with the plot to Vertigo will recognise the story beats. A chase across rooftops, a meeting in an office, a pursuit through the city, a gallery, a hotel, etc. Its just that sometimes it’s Dirty Harry doing the pursuing. Whats more impressive is how the film has distilled the spirit of Vertigo. The eerie impression of guilt personified, and the laughter and thrills at which Hitchcock excelled.
The film works as a celebration San Francisco and the films set there. The iconography of the beautiful city is the only constant in this strange journey through cinematic history. The sheer range of storytellers who walked these streets and told their tales here is a staggering testament to the versatility of the place.
The Green Fog is a sometimes baffling but fairly consistently entertaining experiment in editing. It’s a fabulously inventive tribute to Hitchcock’s masterpiece and a wonderful love letter to one of most storied cities on earth (at least cinematically speaking).