WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS from top to bottom. If you have not yet seen the The Platform, we suggest you pray you reach a level that allows you knowledge of the film’s plot… or just watch it on Netflix.
Every so often, Netflix acquires the digital distribution rights to a foreign language movie that suddenly gets American audiences talking, such as how in 2017, Spain’s Veronica had viewers preaching they could barely finish the possession flick out of fear. American audiences seem to have had no issue finishing the Spanish language dystopian thriller The Platform, but their issue lies in wrapping their heads around the ending.
The conclusion, a word I use lightly, to the feature-length debut of director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia could be considered a fitting final moment, if not for the much-posited questions it leaves unanswered and those it creates by the end as well. There is certainly much within the story of The Platform, set entirely in a dystopian prison consisting of a seemingly endless series of two-person cells stacked on top of each other one by one, that is left to interpretation, but one of the more pressing matters regarding the film’s ending, in addition to what it represents metaphorically, is what we should trust is reality.
I intend to get to the bottom (no pun intended, honestly) of the puzzling minutiae of The Platform through inquisitive analysis of the themes that root the story, the real-world issues it comments on, and the moments of abstraction that send the mind running wild. Let us begin our descent.
What Does The Pit Represent?
The Pit, the aforementioned prison in which The Platform is set, is a society all its own, harboring a seemingly effective system of rules in which, once a day, the titular platform descends from the top bearing a plentiful feast, stopping at each level for two minutes, during which cellmates can eat their portion without keeping a single item. After each month, inmates are put to sleep by a tranquilizing gas and transported to a new level of random selection. The system seems simple and effective enough, if not for the fact that no inmate is concerned with taking their own unspecified portion, but only how much they can grab before the platform continues, leaving less food available for lower levels and, at an undefined point, not even a crumb remains, leaving the unlucky ones below to starve or resort to more desperate measures.
Obviously, The Pit is a hellish existence, and could actually be a fitting interpretation considering how two inmates for each of its 333 levels makes 666 people total, which may lead us to infer that the film is an allegory for the less desirable afterlife, a la Dante’s Inferno, and would make its many religious references come full circle. But, on the other hand, The Platform has also been commonly compared to Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, another dystopian social commentary in which the last of humanity establish a class system on the self-sustaining bullet train a cataclysmic snowstorm has trapped them inside, with the wealthy at the front and the impoverished left at the caboose. However, that concept suggests following the rules leads to the reward of ascension, but, month by month, there is no telling what level the inmates of The Pit may rise or fall to, no matter what they do.
If we are to accept that The Platform is a socio-economic allegory, which is the most likely theme, is the message that capitalism plays no favorites and one can just as easily prosper as they can fail no matter where on the economic ladder they stand? To better understand the film’s greater meaning, it might help to take a deeper look at our protagonist.
What Does Goreng Represent?
We see The Platform through the eyes of Goreng (Ivan Massagué), a man who voluntarily enters The Pit for a total of six months in hopes to earn a college degree and to break his smoking habit, neither of which remain a primary goal once he realizes what he has gotten himself into, becoming acquainted with the best and worst the prison has to offer with each level he finds himself on. He goes through a rotation of cellmates, from elderly Pit veteran Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), who goes from helpful mentor to cannibalistic threat when they find themselves at Level 171, Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), an employee of “The Administration” who voluntarily admitted under a naive understanding of the system’s dangers, and Baharat (Emilio Buale), who wishes to overcome the Pit’s struggles by escape. He also meets Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay), who travels level by level by the platform in hopes to find her missing child that may or may not actually exist.
Each of these characters are important to Goreng’s evolution, but it is Imoguiri’s suggestion that the prison is truly an experiment in “spontaneous solidarity” (which he immediately calls out as a failure) that later inspires him that to take a stand against the inmates’ greediness and see that a successful outcome to that experiment can become a reality, convincing Baharat to help him ensure each level receives an equal ration. There are hints to this decision throughout the story - for instance, each inmate is allowed one object to take with them inside The Pit and Goreng chooses a copy of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a classic socio-economic commentary whose title character is a defender of equal rights. This, along with Goreng’s insistence to collaborate with inmates above and below him to distribute equal food rations early on in the film (which incites Trimagasi’s accusation that he is a “communist”) is undeniably meant to illustrate his drive to overcome the oppressive circumstances of The Pit.
The question is, did Goreng’s noble journey amount to anything in the end? Possibly.
How Does The Platform End And What Does It Mean?
Goreng and Baharat’s mission to ride the platform all the way to its lowest depths, distributing equal food rations, is a feat that incites much violent retaliation that proves nearly fatal for both men. At one point, another inmate suggests their mission may have a more fruitful outcome with the savoring of one single food item (in this case panna cotta) to be sent back to the top level as a symbolic message of their cause, but the lower they descend, the less promising this cause seems, until they find a better message: Miharu’s long lost daughter, who has been hiding on the bottom floor the entire time.
After Baharat’s death (he bled from a deep wound), Goreng descends with her to the depths below the 333rd level, from which the platform is back to the top. He originally has the intention of riding back with the girl, until a hallucination of the murdered Trimagasi tells Goreng that his “journey is over.” He steps off the platform to walk into the shadowy unknown with Trimagasi as the sleeping child begins to ascend to the top before the credits commence.
The Platform leaves us at a decidedly bittersweet "conclusion" amid the aggressively bleak tone we had been previously subjected to, if you read it as such. By the declaration that Goreng has reached the end of his journey, I am inclined to believe that his mission to bring Miharu’s child to the top may prove successful in putting an eventual end to The Pit’s dehumanizing experiment, but that it also sealed his fate, made apparent to me by his stroll alongside his dead former cellmate. The film is never keen to provide an explicit outcome to Goreng’s sacrifice, but, as a potential inference to the film’s overall rebellious message, it leaves you with a long-absent sense of hope.
The Platform manages to be a grisly, yet powerful indictment on the dog-eat-dog mentality of the capitalistic system through a unique concept that never fails to thrill. Be sure to check back for more news on this film and other explanations for the latest movie releases here on CinemaBlend.