“This isn’t a good place for someone who likes books,” Gorent, the main character of the movie The Platform, directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, is told over and over after waking up in a uniquely structured prison that allows two prisoners per vertical level. The prisoners have plenty of water, but once a day a single platform full of sumptuous foods descends in the middle of the cell. Those at the upper levels get their pick for the day. Those at subsequent levels eat what those above have passed over.
The story is gripping and the dialogue compelling, even though it is dubbed from Spanish. It’s interesting to note that because I often watch movies while children sleep, I’m in the habit of watching everything with subtitles on. In this case, the dubbed dialogue and subtitles don’t match up, but it does give you the sense of capturing some nuance that was lost in translation. The almost dueling dialogue made it even harder to look away and the movie was all the more enjoyable because of it.
If you’re looking for a real twist or something more sinister, you’ll be sadly mistaken. This is an anti-capitalist allegory that hits home, particularly as we in America begin to look at the gift of a government handout playing to the tune of $1,200/person in the mouth.
“You can’t shit upward.”
It’s all about equality as the main character, Goreng, grows a conscience, (he’s a reader, afterall, and numerous studies show reading increases empathy). He and another prisoner hatches the plan to send food to the lowest levels and actually make sure it reaches the prisoners at the bottom. The idea is to send one single panna cotta to the bottom untouched, so that when the platform makes its journey to the top, it’s clear to those running the prison that they can’t break people down. To do that, Goreng will have to leave a cushy spot at the top to ride the platform all the way to the deepest depths of the prison. “Get food to the last level, you break the cycle.”
To the surprise of no one, the plan is met with derision. The hungry prisoners fight over every scrap.
“The Messiah multiplied fish. He didn’t snatch it from their mouths.”
It’s not an easy journey. For me, the snappy, insightful dialogue that subtly critiques a system that encourages those at the top to horde resources made this a very enjoyable film, even as the character descends to the depraved depths of humanity, exploring the justifications each person uses to maintain the status quo and the madness it takes to change a system.
“He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life.”
In a world where cannibalism is a likely outcome, it’s not about the panna cotta, of course. All of us are saviors in this economy if we just give up our bodies to the machine.
The question is, does our sacrifice actually mean something?
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