Nothing screams pathetic white male dominated power complex’s more than slavery, colonization, and pastries. In Emma De Swaef’s and Marc James Roels newest film, concepts on privilege, race relations, and the pitiful downfall of humanity are the building blocks for their magnum opus This Magnificent Cake!, a partly satirical retelling of the inhuman effects of colonialism on both the rich and the imprisoned. After a 6 year Hiatus from there traditional non-commissioned work, Cake stands out as one of their finest work, and one of the most important films to be seen in the 21st century.
Similar to films like The Battle of Algiers and the surrealist likings of Luis Bunuel, Cake manages to detail the harsh environment of the Congo in an enchanting nightmare. Each prop and texture used in it’s impeccably detailed stop motion animation, absorbs each frame with intense concentration and emotional resonance. The uncanny effect from these details gives the whole film a story book feel, as if we the audience, we’re reading and learning about these deplorable and heartbreaking acts, from our own perspective.
Divided in five different unique chapters, This Magnificent Cake! uses an uncompromising narrative structure to tell it’s own tales. What I loved particularly about this idea, is the unpredictability of what’s going to happen in the film Unlike most jungle themed “adventure” flicks, Cake manages to make you feel like you’re part of the environment. There’s no real character development nor arks. There isn’t a main focus in the plot. It’s all up to perspective and the ambiguity of character’s decisions.
What makes This Magnificent Cake! so important in today’s society, isn’t the relationship with dictatorships nor the capitalist greed of global markets that’s presented in the film. It’s the lack of empathy we have with one another, the barbarity and scarce remorse we lack to share.
We are all born in a world of vicious hatred. It’s the people with the most disgust who thrive in our modern society. This is how it was always been, from present day, all the way back to the colonial era. What This Magnificent Cake! teaches us is the true sadness of the broken heart and the selfish greed which comes along with it. We’re obsessed with the little intricacies of life, in which we rarely pay attention to the bigger picture. In the end, all the characters in This Magnificent Cake! are broken, unfixable puppets that just want to come alive, just like many of we, who are trying to get by everyday.