After multiple viewings, Sarah reflects on Netflix’s The Platform and wrapping our heads around a film’s ending.
Sometimes you need to watch a film more than once to understand the ending, because the first viewing provided more questions than answers. For me, I had to watch The Platform twice before I understood it. Perhaps the ending was always obvious to some, though a quick Google search suggested I was not the only person to be confused originally.
If you’ve not seen it, the film has a wonderfully unique plot with what is generally considered to be an indirect take on capitalism. However, endings that initially leave me scratching my head do frustrate me. I still can’t bring myself to discuss Hereditary.
But it says a lot that the rest of The Platform had me so hooked that I felt not only able, but happy, to give it additional viewings to work it out. In an era of reboots or repetitiously predictable plots, it was refreshing to find a film that caught my attention by the mere fact that I didn’t know what to expect. The first time, anyway.
The Netflix original follows protagonist Goreng as he begins a six-month voluntary stay in the Vertical Self-Management Centre, known to its inhabitants as The Pit. Although we soon realise that The Pit is more akin to a prison. Instead of cells in wings, The Pit is a structure we only ever see from the inside; one room per level, hundreds of levels, and two inmates per level.
On Level 0, at the very top, there’s a bustling kitchen of five-star hotel quality. Running through the centre of the facility is a large rectangular hole, allowing all inmates to look up and down as far as the eye can see. That ‘hole’ serves a purpose, though; it’s where the food is sent down daily on a –wait for it– platform. A platform attached to no mechanism and seemingly just floats as if by magic. But I digress.
Piled high with restaurant quality food, the platform travels down to each level where it stands for two minutes while the inmates eat their fill. Food cannot be removed for later consumption. The platform then travels down to the next level. And so on.
Naturally, however, with food only available for two minutes per day, the prisoners scoff anything they can, even to the point of ruining any food left for the lower levels. Every man for himself. The amount and quality of food decreases as the platform descends, and it’s only right to assume that the inmates on Level 150 are potentially starving. Each month, the prisoners are gassed into a deep sleep and moved to another level.
And, there it is: the capitalism. The visible representation that those higher up the food chain are always afforded more, and of a better quality, filling themselves at will with no regard for the people below them. The fat-cats at the top dangle incentives from their superior spot while everybody else scrapes for whatever they can get just to survive. Each month, those from Level 1 and beyond are given the chance to experience a different amount of riches, choosing –as always– to look out for themselves above everyone else.
During Goreng’s stay, he has multiple cellmates: Trimagasi, Imoguiri, and Baharat.
Due to being a former employee of The Pit, Imoguiri proves to be one of the more important interactions. She explains how the purpose of the facility is to work together, ration food, support each other, and ensure everyone survives. But it isn’t until month five that Goreng and Baharat decide to take action and send the administrators a message that their will cannot be broken, and their ability to work together is finally possible.
And how do they plan to do that? By riding the platform from their level all the way down, helping to feed those on lower levels who may be starving, by helping to ration the food, and by sending one untouched dessert back to the kitchen as evidence.
“The panna cotta is the message,” repeats Baharat as he and Goreng aim to protect it from hundreds of hungry mouths.
But, along the way, there is a surprise inmate who disrupts their plans and the panna cotta becomes detrimental to their survival in order to send a new message. A message that questions how much the admin know or care about what happens in the world they created, the impact and effects it has on the people living the harsh realities.
Don’t worry; The Platform is not a heavily laden political drama. If you want to avoid the capitalist theme, then on the face of it you get a film about food, sanity, solitude, and a reasonable amount of violence and gore.
Would I recommend the film? Yes, absolutely. Did I get the message? Yes, eventually. But only because the film was so good I decided to give it a second chance. (The Googling came later…)
The Platform is available to watch on Netflix now.
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