The Platform (2019) – Subtle Metaphors accents Savage Realities

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Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform packs all the necessary ingredients to throw audiences off their seat. Streaming on Netflix and ranked as Top 10 on Netflix’s daily since it’s release, The Platform underlines the class differences with layers of cannibalism, suicide, starvation, blood, guts and feces, and what not?

The Platform with its subtle anti-capitalist message is not only disturbing but also makes a social commentary on various issues. The story takes place in a cellular jail built in a vertical building that acts as a metaphor for class differences. The cellmates are forced to eat only once from the descending table of food, which literally gets empty by the time it reaches the lower levels of the cell.

“On those high levels, you can eat anything you want, but you don’t have anything to wait for. Your mind runs wild.”


The Platform’s Message

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Through both the psychological and thriller approach to the film, director Galder has tried to underline the notion that in our society, it is evident that the top classes are more privileged and greedy, while those at the bottom are starving and desperate. This doesn’t sit well with the main protagonist, Goreng (Iván Massagué), a prisoner who resorts to violence to bring about change. The film’s core socialist ideas are quite heavy-handed and obvious throughout, but the ending is quite strange and ambiguous.

“The Administration has no conscience. However, there is a slim chance that people on Level 0 do. That’s where you must send your message. And how do we do that? With a symbol.”

The ending is about sending the message to the hierarchy or the supreme power who sends food, telling them that we as humans are more savage, and need a change in administration or reforms to bring about social change.

The Platform (2019) - Ironies of Vertical Self-Management Center.

It also emphasizes on the fact that only youth play an important part in changing the world. The film plays on many layers though, where not a singular notion can be put in simpler words. Even the protagonist who joins the cell voluntarily turns into a monster during his stay in the cell, from where he gradually recovers but not completely. The message in The Platform could be anything, whatever the audience wants to perceive. For some, it could be a class battle, for some a change in the society, and some cynics might even perceive it as the pre-defined structure of society, which can never be altered. All themes have been explored throughout the film, through different characters and their varied ideas.


The Platform’s Screenplay and Dialogues

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Screenplay written by David Desola and Pedro Rivero focuses on a brutal experiment in social conditioning and blunt Darwinism.

In a vast, vertical prison, each floor consists of a single, small room, inhabited by two cellmates. In this room, from top to bottom of the building, there is a giant square hole in the center where a descending meal platform stops once a day, for the briefest interval. It is loaded with food and drink for the upper descent of the prison, but nothing is left, till it reaches the lower levels.

“If everyone ate only what they needed, the food would reach the lowest levels.”

But this is a 200-story prison, so if those on the higher floors stuff their faces and things can get more than a little desperate down below.

The Platform (2019) - Ironies of Vertical Self-Management Center.
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Into this sky-high hellscape comes Goreng, not a prisoner but a volunteer, who has signed on for six months as a guinea pig in exchange for an accredited diploma.  Through Goreng, the scriptwriters have plotted various themes, which is not limited to capitalism. It speaks of human virtues and our approach towards society. We are called humans but have little or no humanity.

All the crisp dialogues of The Platform are hard-hitting which pierces your heart without mercy. The film packs many thought-provoking lines, which are storming the web since it’s release.

The writers and the maker have left the ending of the film ambiguous to let us decide what change we want to see in our own future, and thus write our own ending for the film, through it.

In popular resemblance, The Platform could be compared to “Animal Farm” and a late-period “South Park” episode on the subtlety scale. Although the setup and circumstances have rendered an outright obviousness of its metaphors which is its greatest strength.


Iván Massagué as Goreng in The Platform

Goreng enters this cell voluntarily to quit smoking and finally get time to read Don Quixote. As weird as it sounds, the film is much weirder and depicts the situation of a man trapped among human savages.

Iván Massagué as Goreng

Goreng’s initial humanity can be traced in these lines spoken by his first cellmate Trimagasi.

“You’ve got a good heart. I don’t think you’ll survive very long.”

Using the word, Savage might not be quite justified, but our basic necessities sometimes push us to become one, which is both evident in Goreng and the other cellmates of this vertical prison. The only difference being, that Goreng is conscious enough, not to repeat his mistakes, which defines his character graph very precisely and interestingly.

“Hunger unleashes that madman in us. It’s better to eat than be eaten.”

As a performer, Goreng has done an incredible job, where each of us can relate to his uneasiness, confusion, and state of despair. He is able to portray his inner demons both textually and without it.

Goreng’s disagreement throughout the film is to bring a change, which is both visible in his own character and his beliefs, the same he is trying to bring about in this prison and world in large.

“Change never happens spontaneously.”

By the time the final scene arrives, Goreng has shown that he’s willing to do his part in an effort to create the change he wants to see. Every individual must accept some responsibility, after all. Now it’s up to the powerful bodies at the top to do their part, and hopefully, they will. The future is uncertain, but everyone needs to make an effort.

Tragedy of the Commons

The Platform mostly deals with “Tragedy of the Commons” theory, which proposes that humans will always act in their own self-interest and contrary to the betterment of the collective. In the movie, some people are willing to do their part because they want to see more equality, but most that do so only have a change of heart after Goreng threatens to poop on their food or beat them with a pipe.


The Platform is a Spanish thriller film that revolves around a prison set in a large, tower-style Vertical Self-Management Center. It is streaming on Netflix.

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