Blu-ray Review: This Magnificent Cake! | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020  

This Magnificent Cake!

Studio: Kino Lorber / GKIDS

Sep 19, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In an included featurette, co-director Marc James Roels expresses his surprise in how easily Belgium’s colonial past has been glossed over and forgotten. While it’s true that his nation’s own subjugation of foreign lands and peoples may not have stretched as wide as those of other European imperialists, it’s a history that’s no less dark and discomforting when confronted with. This Magnificent Cake!, inspired by an apocryphal quote by Belgium’s King Leopold II, deals with the Belgian occupation of the Congo in a series of disturbingly surreal, animated vignettes.

In one part, a drunken magnate slowly goes mad, fashioning himself a friend in the form of a massive snail whom he gifts his toupee. In another, a pygmy takes on various, humiliating jobs in a luxury hotel, onto to meet an abrupt demise at the hands of a European toddler. Elsewhere, a war deserter flees to Africa only to become lost in the jungle. These and other stories are loosely connected, with characters from each appearing in the other chapters. Death is a frequent punchline in this 44-minute feature.

Told through a minimalist, expressive style of stop-motion animation, the closest comparison for these short tales are the works of Edward Gorey. This Magnificent Cake! is grim, but perversely hilarious. And yet, it takes an unflinching stance on the colonial era—portraying it with an amplified awfulness. It handles the bleak subject matter with a poetic touch, and is worth a look from any fan of adult animation.

Extra features include two bonus shorts, an interview with Roels, and a look behind the scenes at the making of the film.



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