The Platform is a much more interesting movie than I imagined before watching it. As the “Hoyo” (the hole) has levels, this review has different layers.
The movie starts with the presentation of the main subject and of Hoyo’s rules. The most obvious theme here is a social critic.
People living in the upper levels eat without thinking about the people who are living in the many other levels below them. Similarly, the richest level of our society concentrates wealth. That produces an unequal distribution of wealth and this generates poverty and hungry in the other classes. So, as the lowest is your position in society, the smaller will be your portion of wealth.
In the movie, the characters can move from a level to another (randomly). It happens to the protagonist, Goreng. He starts on level 48, then 171 and so on. So, there is a perception that, when you are at a “good” level, you have the right to enjoy your privilege, for which you did nothing to conquest. In an upper level, you transform your fear and resentment into avarice and revenge (not against the system, but against who is below you). This is basically the class warfare.
- This is the first level of the plot: the critic of Capitalism.
Welcome to the second level! It starts when the protagonist, Goreng, meets Imoguiri, the person who interviewed him to ingress in the Hoyo. She has a compassionate heart, which makes her believe that the Hoyo can return the “participants” to the world after transforming them into better citizens to the society. She believes in the existence of “spontaneous solidarity”. Then, Goreng can confront the humanitarian vision of Imoguiri to the ultrarealistic vision of Trimagasi (his first fellow).
On one hand, Goreng understands that there is no way of people spontaneously be convinced of showing solidarity. On the other hand, he starts to think that not everyone is as selfish as Trimagasi. Then, he realizes that there is a medium-term.
Then, he is moved to another level where he meets Baharat.
Baharat has a rope and he trusts that people from above will help him to go up. So, he expects to get out of Hoyo by going level by level up. However, soon, he understands that not everyone is willing to help him, especially if they have nothing to win from it. On the other hand, it is obvious that his endeavor was individual and selfish.
That is how social ascension (not) happens in capitalism. It’s basically impossible, except if you find a good soul to help you; but this is a luck matter only. There is nothing to do with individual will power. Maybe, the individual will count to make the effort to climb using the rope, which is useless if you don’t have anyone to hold the rope on the other side.
Baharat suffers because of his failure. At this moment, Goreng – with a more communitarian mentality, which he got from Imoguiri – he asks Baharat to go down together, using the platform, in order to make the food reach the last level.
Then, they start the level 3 of the plot.
Goreng and Baharat use the force to convince people from level 7 to 51 to do a fast day so that food can be distributed to the lowest levels. A small number of people agree (but they are the minority) with this plan, but the majority must be attacked to keep their distance from Food, because they are more worried about their own survival than collaborated with the others.
It’s a clear analogy. They are using violence in favor of a change (positive – they could argument), and we see how easily they become more and more violent. It’s easy to be dominated by instincts, interests and ideals.
Then, a “wise” man advises them. The important element of their mission is not making the food reach the last level. That is only a circumstantial change for those people. If they want to change the Hoyo deeply, so they need to do something to reach the people on level 0, but not the Administration (it’s only a system, it has no heart). They should reach the workers of the Administration with their message from below.
Here, we are talking about the “intellectual” giving some orientation to them mobilize the masses through the discourse but not the violence, with the power of the message itself.
However, very soon Baharat realizes that the message itself isn’t powerful enough to convince people to act with more solidarity and, then, he convinces himself that his job is protecting the “message” and distributing the food. In order to accomplish those objectives, they will use violence, again ( they will say because violence is the only effective way). When the food ends and their presence becomes “the food” itself, they start returning people to their right mind, without much success. It’s the failure of hobbesian model too.
The view of each next lower level gets more and more sad and hopeless and, finally, we are at Level 4.
Here, they realize that the Hoyo is much deeper than they imagined at the beginning of their descent. So, were all their effort useless? Will always exist people who are going to starve until death?
That’s when they find an Asian little girl, who supposed not to be there. It is because the Hoyo – theoretically – shouldn’t allow people under 16 years old. Goreng asks Baharat to give her the “message” (a panna cotta). For one moment, we can question if Basharat will give her the food. Indeed, he gives it. what does that mean?
He sacrifices the false message (the panna cotta) to get the real one (the girl). Is there any guarantee about which one is the real? No, only their faith can be their assure them that it is the right thing to do. They believed in the new/real message and they accepted it.
Symbolically, they are giving the “false” message (food) up to get the “real” message (hope), which they will soon understand that is the girl – the symbol of hope.
That is when the movie makes the most important statement. One against the communist ideology because it only gives a superficial, temporary solution to social problems, by using arbitrary, excessive violence and without touch the super-upper classes (level 1 to 5 in Hoyo), and without being capable of distributing food to all levels, let alone talk about equality. That is the “false message” that succumbs in favor of Christianity ideal, the owner of the real message. It is Christ who brings the promise of hope for the future, where peace and happiness will be capable of reach everyone.
Then, finally, Goreng (the only survivor) together with the little girl reaches the end of the Hoyo. There, he meets Trimagasi, who reminds him that the “real message” doesn’t need a conveyer, the message itself will be enough for those who want to understand it. As it is the message of God. It is when the body of Christ may perish, because the message has been delivered.
Then there is no need for any further scene because it depends on us receive or not the real message.
Some extra thoughts about the movie
- For me, it-s clear that the source of the all problem is the upper levels 1 to 51, but especially the level 1 to 5. People on those levels know that every day they will receive food, they can’t keep any food with them after the platform abandon the level and the change of level is inevitable and unpredictable. So with the memory of previous starvation and with fear of feeling hungry again, they eat all they can. It’s a possibility that irrationally they believe that eating much would prevent them to starve in the future (even if they know it is not true). However, I think it’s more probable that they believe that because they are at a high level now, it is their right to eat as much as they want, just as those who were above them did (now or in the past). If everyone is guilty, nobody is guilty.
- Because of that wrong mentality, everyone below level 51 is condemned to starve. However, if only a few persons (those in the level 1 to 51) had a better conscience at least others hundreds could survive as well as they want to survive, but because their wrong thought all of them will eventually die.
- The table has everyone’s favorite food. If you can restrict yourself to your own portion, everyone can eat. They make clear that the platform has the “favorite food”, because it means that you have the right to eat your portion and shouldn’t wish nothing more than that.
- The Hoyo allows a knife inside because violence is always a way to survive (and that is the purpose: survive), but we see that violence is not the best method when survival is the objective. Also, we see an old lady with lots of money but no food, because we know that heaven doesn’t belong to the rich.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Lucas 6:20
Further possible (crazy) interpretation:
- “From Quijote to Christ”. Goreng brought to the Hoyo a book. He could bring in only one thing and he chose the Quijote. Quijote is someone who tries to live a certain experience because he believes in the value of this experience. He lives it through a mixture of naiveness and madness. In some sense, Goreng’s journey was a chivalry one. Also, he was guided by a kind of Mephistopheles, which tried to corrupt his little piece of sanity and love for the others, as human being, he falls and stands up (different of Christ, who could go through the temptations without falling). It’s at the end when he could abandon all his masks (as kinds of characters) and see what he really was: the receipt for the message, the lamb of God as the body of Christ. This only can happen after he conveyed the message because just then he has no place in the scene. Goreng and Christ become a character of a narrative about themselves, which the character is not the real protagonist (the girl, God). The plot has a play between sign and meaning, as we can see in Quijote.
- does the girl really exist? we can believe she doesn’t because it is not allowed kids in the Hoyo, and because she is clean and well dressed when she was found in the level 333 (a possible sign for this illusion). However, I think her own existence in the Hoyo is the “proof” that the system has its fails. Wasn’t the Hoyo the representation of the path between heaven and hell? (as in Dante Comedy?)
PD: This review was 4 hands written.
Scott MacKenzie PhD helped me to create the interpretations offered in this text;
but, of course, all mistakes and misinterpretations belong to the author of this blog.