An Ode to Golden Gate Fog

Fog is rich—in mystery, in metaphor, in intrigue. Fog was noir before noir existed at all. We walk out the door and espy the fog and up comes the collar and the shoulders, and we are set to hunker, hands in pockets and eyes all a-squint. If we’re walking someplace, we’ll be glad when we get there.

It can be treacherous, of course. Night or day, if the fog is thick enough, we have no bearings, no guideposts, nowhere to tack. This way, no, maybe that way, oh, maybe no way at all, stuck and aimless.

A voice might beckon to us, but from where? Sometimes it is best just to wait.

But fog can be a love, too. I was maybe 8 years old when I decided I’d one day live in Northern California, and it was the fog itself that beckoned me. I remember the moment. Fog was pouring across the Golden Gate Bridge where I was standing with my brother, on a family vacation to visit our uncle in this exotic place, the sun still bright overhead even as the white swirling fog cascaded past the towers.

“Someday,” I told myself, gazing upward, knowing deep in my chilled bones. It required only a couple of more decades.

The fog across the Golden Gate is its own creature, slithering into the low-lying ridges like a live loving thing, its moist caress a product of “advection,” a meteorological term sounding far too sterile for the reality we behold with our eyes and hearts.

Better to believe our eyes and the stirring it creates inside us. That’s what filmmaker Simon Christen did, and the result is a spectacular and tender ode to fog and its singular way of cloaking the Golden Gate and its bridges and hills. No words here, just four minutes and thirty-five seconds of time lapse enchantment, watching the fog flowing river-like across and around and through a beloved landscape, reminding us of the wonders of water and wind and light that lurk and spread their way so regularly into our souls.

Much appreciation for the devotion and art of filmmaker Simon Christen, and also to photographers:

Rotating banner photos top of page courtesy of Elizabeth Haslam, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing, see more at:

Small Golden Gate Bridge shot courtesy of Giles Douglas, Mountain View CA, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing; see more of his work at:

Panoramic bridge shot courtesy of Martin Holst Friborg Pedersen, Copenhagen, Denmark, see more of his work at:

And for a fine profile on Christen by Dana Edwards in the San Francisco Chronicle, see:


4 comments to An Ode to Golden Gate Fog

  • Dennis Ahern  says:

    If it had been a nice clear day when Rick Blaine had told Ilsa Lund their problems didn’t amount to a hill of beans on that tarmac I don’t reckon it would have meant as much. Fog, like the ocean, can be a mirror of the unconscious.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Dennis, now you’ve got me thinking of “all-time fog scenes in the movies.” (The one you mention is certainly way up on the list.) Will have to consult my film buff associates—Scott Daigle, where are you?

  • loren  says:

    Spectacular film, though having been raised in the Puget Sound Area I’ve always loved being immersed in the fog, not looking down upon it. In fact that’s precisely what we’re having this morning.

  • kfeldman2013  says:

    I ran across SC’s video a few months back and simply loved it… thanks for the excuse to view it again! Fog is enigmatic to be sure – my earliest film recollections are scary movies done in black and white, Wolfman, Frankenstein, Hound of the Baskervilles – usually a British moor of some kind…Like Loren I am a Puget Sound kinda guy (Seattle) but find I like watching it from above or on film far more than being immersed in it… no idea why – whimpy in my old age perhaps!

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