The Dragons of Jim Green. Directed by Randy Salo
Filmmaker Randy Salo grew up not merely listening to his grandfather’s carefully manicured tales of an advanced ET civilization that inhabited modern-day South Carolina 33.9 million years ago, he handled what Jim Green maintained was the archaeological proof for it: fossils, submarines, the volcanic residue from which it was retrieved. Or so Salo thought. No doubt he wanted it all to be true.
It’s fairly commonplace for families, particularly in the South, to produce eccentric storytellers whose yarns are buried in the memory of clan lore. But Salo tried something different. For five years, insisting he didn’t know which way the evidence would fall, Salo and his two-man production crew went to fairly extraordinary lengths to induce science to sort out fact from fiction. Salo got less, and more, than he bargained for, and the results are rewarding.
Among the biggest surprises is the exhaustive trail of Green’s obsession, a history spanning more than 40 years. Green tilled the soil for proof of his reptoid civilization in 50 sites, a dozen on his own property. Wearing military fatigues and mixing the jargon of physics, geology, and biochemistry with his own unique nomenclature, Green left such a memorable impression that at least one since-retired archaeologist kept his material in storage for 35 years.
The expedient way to handle Green’s pursuits would’ve been to dismiss him as a delusional zealot, which of course is much too easy. Salo takes another path, but not merely because it’s grandpa. He’s smart enough to mine much richer, and more complex, material, the kind of stuff that left the crowd at Tuesday night’s world premiere chattering long after the Q&A session wrapped up.
“The Dragons of Jim Green,” 71 minutes, plays again Wednesday April 18 at 4:45 p.m.