CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 7. . . .October 16, 2009
Jean-François Lévesque (Writer & Director). Michèle Bélanger & Julie Roy (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2008.
12 min., 26 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153E 9909 077.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Frank Loreto.
This animated delight begins with Valentin opening presents that came to him in the mail. He receives a striped necktie and an accordion. He does not know how to play the accordion, but he tries. The necktie is quite unlike his other monochrome ties, but he wears it to work. As he goes to work, the tie loses its stripes and becomes like all his others. Valentin's job consists of ironing, crumpled balls of paper. When he has a large neat pile of flat paper, another employee takes it away. This routine appears to have been going on for some time, and Valentin does not seem unhappy with his job. However, one sheet of paper falls to the floor. When Valentin chases after the worker, he discovers that this person's job is to take the piles of paper and run them through a shredder.
Valentin is promoted upstairs, but instead of going to the next floor, he boldly goes to the top floor of the building to find to his horror, identical employees being hauled by hooks—satchels and all—to a disposal chute. One hook reaches for Valentin, but he escapes.
Valentin goes home, and we see him practising on his new accordion. Time passes, and Valentin is again seen going to work. This time, however, his job is playing the accordion outside the office building where he used to work. His striped tie stays striped this time.
This simple film looks at the banality of some jobs and the fact that, if one does not escape, the job could result in death—either physical or spiritual.
Jean Francois Levesque uses puppet animation for Valentin but reduces all the other characters to two-dimensional drawn characters. Right from the start, Valentin has more depth to his character than the others. He just has to discover this. The other characters do not.
Included in the DVD is a discussion by Lévesque where he talks about his ideas and shows the animation techniques. This would be of great interest to Art or Media Arts classes as he shows the progress from story board to film. Lévesque confesses that he had to learn the accordion in order to match Valentin's fingering with the song he plays.
The Necktie is truly a delightful film and could be used in Career Studies to show the dangers of dead-end jobs, but it could also work in a Business class or just shown because it is fun to watch.
Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.
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