Federico Fellini, Italie, 1973, Warner Bros.
Sometimes, it’s not down to much for the well-known environment to become strange, odd or even a fantasy. Fog is one of the resources that cinema has to make the most common world become enigmatic. Fog is often created artificially in cinema because the presence of true fog is too random and unpredictable to plan a shooting. Fog, unlike dark night (often used in horror or nail-biting films), does not hide the world entirely. General shapes can be identified, the house gate can be recognised, trees, buffalo, but realistic details can’t be distinguished, and shapes part with the neutral background, without any depth or perspective. As if the world had been “erased” behind the figures, leading the spectator to imagine and interpret what cannot be seen in the image.
This sequence takes place in the least mysterious place existing to the two characters: their house and its immediate surrounding. But fog disorientates the grandfather who doesn’t know where he is anymore, or where the house is (when it is just a few meters away from him). The little boy though leaves cheerfully for school, but soon the most common things around become worrying and unreal: trees turn into threatening animals, a car headlights become monster’s eyes, and a buffalo (as common in Italy as cows are for us) becomes a mythological animal. In this sequence, a difference has to be made between the real elements (the buffalo, the car) turning into something worrying because of the fog and the elements (like the trees) drawn in an unrealistic way with shapes that are already fantastic.