There’s a definite trend toward using gimmicks to give depth to films, and it’s particularly prevalent in animated movies. These days, almost everything is available in 3D, and often for new releases it’s hard to find a screening that’s NOT in 3D. This Magnificent Cake! (Ce Magnifique Gateau!) is not in 3D but in no danger whatsoever of feeling two dimensional. There is so much texture here, you’ll want to pet the screen.
The texture comes from the animators’ use of felt and yarn for basically everything you will see on screen. Co-creators Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels have ensured that the characters, the animals, and even the water are fuzzy. All the texture will captivate you throughout the film’s short 45 minute run time. Every frame is packed with a ton of details and textures for the viewer to notice and absorb. So even if you are lost in the narrative, which will happen due to its nature, you never mind all that much and are happy to just absorb what’s on screen. The animation is incredible, and I would say that the visuals are the main reason that This Magnificent Cake! was the Grand Prize Winner (Best Feature) at the 2018 Ottawa Inter
national Animation Festival.
The narrative is easy to get lost in because it’s left to the viewer to determine what is real and what is a dream or a hallucination. This Magnificent Cake! features five interconnected episodes that revolve around Belgium’s colonization of Africa in the late 19th century. The episodes begin and end abruptly and usually the next in the sequence starts soon after the previous one ended, but tells the story from a different perspective. Most of the episodes unfold in Africa, but there is also some Belgium backstory as well as some bonding to take place during the several months (?) it took to travel by steamer from Europe to the colony. How many of these events were imagined is hard to say (intentionally, I’m sure) but I “felt” at least half of it only happened in the characters’ minds, which hopefully includes a particularly memorable snail adoption by a lonely colonist.
This Magnificent Cake! is a unique experience that may leave you scratching your head when it ends, but your eyes will thank you for taking the trip.