When you’re young, you don’t watch stories for the hidden meaning in them.
You’re only there to enjoy the excitement of the plot, the thrilling action, and the satisfying conclusion. Who cares about hidden meanings, allusions, and messages? A movie is not a class assignment.
So when I talk about The Platform, I also at the same time wish I was fourteen-years old when I saw it. At twenty one, I am too corrupted to enjoy The Platform. I know too much about the misery of our world to ignore the message of the film.
What is The Platform about?
It is the debut feature film of director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. It is available on Netflix for the world to see. Like other Spanish films in the past such as Fermat’ Room, The Platform operates within a fixed-claustrophobic setting.
In the future, prisoners are sent to a vertical cell prisons where people in the lower cells eat whatever those in the upper cells leave for them. Every month, the floor on which the prisoners are staying changes. Therefore, someone on a lower floor has the chance to get a higher floor where they’d get more food.
The Politics of the Platform
The Platform is not subtle about its politics. The vertical prison, called the hole in the movie, is a representation of the society we live. The rich, like the prisoners on the higher floor, eat like kings and leave nothing for those living on the lower floors. The poor, in extreme hunger, are desperate enough to kill each other to survive. The ones in the middle are just happy to survive and don’t care about the ethics of the entire system.
The beauty of the concept is this- those on the lower floors also get the chance to go to a higher floor. And when they do, they don’t have the empathy they wished those on the upper levels should have when they were down.
The Platform is not simply an indictment of the death cult capitalism we have grown accustomed to. It calls out a deeper part of human beings, a selfish instinct inherent in every man and woman.
The Art of Saying Something More
The Platform is not the first film to talk about something bigger in society without actually confirming its motives. George Lucas wrote the Star Wars sequels keeping in mind the Bush Administration of the time. Tolkien took inspiration from World War II to write the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As mentioned in a previous post, writers often draw inspiration from the world around.
The Platform is powerful because its presentation of our world is hard-hitting and true. The world is divided into many classes and no-one cares about those at a lower level to them.
Without saying words like capitalism and income inequality, The Platform still manages to make viewers see its point. This is because it doesn’t compromise on its vision of the dog-eat-dog world.
Another reason The Platform is very effective in giving its message is the simple framework within which it works. We understand the rules of the Hole early on in the film. The only thing that’s subject to change is the changing fate of the protagonist at the end of every month.
Since there are no distractions in the plot and only one thing for the audience to see and expect, the message of the film is easily delivered.
The Lessons for Writers to Learn
Writers are lucky to live in an age where they can access quality content like this at the click of a button.
The Platform comes from a place of principle and concern. It comes from a writer who appears worried about the rising inequality in society. At various points, you can sense the helplessness the writer feels about the shackled world around him.
As writers, we often separate our feelings about the world around us from the things we write. This is a missed opportunity in many ways. Instead of burying their honest feelings and passions, writers can turn them into powerful storytelling tools. Dickens and Trollope told the story of the world around them to become the greatest authors of the nineteenth century. Similarly, writers today should use their anger and frustration with the world around them to tell a powerful story.
The Platform is the type of movie I would have fallen in love with if I was young and unaware. As a 21-year-old, I am too aware and corrupted to ignore its subliminal messages. The film can now, at my age, only send me into a deep phase of introspection.
Also read: What is Speculative Fiction?
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