THE HAT (1999)

Director: Michèle Cournoyer
Year: 1999
Time: 6 mins
Jean Derome
Joane Hétu, Jean René, Rainer Wiens, Pierre Janguay
Fabieene Bélair, Normand Duilbeault
Eye of Sound: The apparent simplicity of The Hat's design hides a raw and violent tale of an untimely coming of age. We first see the hat covering a man's face whose body appears on the ear of a naked woman who dances to the sound of a sleazy funk beat at a strip club. The funk is gone and we now see the dancer as a child being approached by the hat. The hat then reappears as a hand moving up underneath her dress and as the ballet suit the little girl wears as a normal child. Back to the funk, we again see the naked dancer, surrounded by men with hats. Soon we are presented with an explicit depiction of the hat's latent significance: a phallic image, on a narrower level, but also a wider symbol of male violence and domination over women. Disturbing images of the dancer's body metamorphosing into a phallus seem to suggest that this exterior object is now an integral part of the victim's existence, while her appearance as a cigarette on the mouth of the man with the hat obviously alludes to her consumption by her abuser and her own combustion down this memory flame. As if it hadn't been explicit enough, Cournoyer concludes the film with a final depiction of the founding moment of this long-term incestuous relationship, a moment in which the relatively clean lines that make up The Hat become nervously and irreparably blotted and smeared. The music, created by Jean Derome with a host of musicians from the Canadian musique actuelle scene, is intricately connected to The Hat's narrative. The score moves swiftly between the sleaze beats of the strip-club (which are never as banal as proper strip music), short pizzicato sections depicting the victim's normal childhood in her ballet lessons, and dense, tense sound sculptures (sometimes recalling Frith's Technology of Tears) that add up to the latent violence of the narrative. The constant temporal and dramatic shifts of The Hat are ingeniously supported by Derome's score, which, much like the film's images, is based on transitions and metamorphoses rather than on cuts and contrasts - as if, as Chris Robinson pointed out, we're dealing with an endless rape or, in an alternative phrasing, as if no rape ever really ends. 


  1. Thank you very much for this excellent animation film and for all the other great stuff you have here. I love your blog. Thanks!

  2. Glad you liked this, MC. Thanks for your attention and stay tuned!

  3. This is one of the most impressing films I've seen in many years. Thank you for this gem