In the past ten months, any distraction that has taken our mind away from the quarantine and the looming economic crises is magical – a temporary sleight-of-hand, inducing a momentary impulse of surprise, thrill, and even happiness, maybe. What could be considered as a taken-for-granted, optional form of entertainment has done a well-above average job of keeping our morale and mentality just above water. During such uncertain times, what if I told you that a Spanish Netflix movie released on Netflix in early March completely manages to capture the essence of what we have gone through in 2020?
[Spoilers ahead for The Platform, and other movies.]
The Platform is a movie that was intended to capture the contemporary sociopolitical nature of the world. While the writers, David Desola and Pedro Rivero, and director, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, did a mind-blowing job with this movie, it also has happened to represent everything and everyone that has experienced the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The movie is about a never-ending nightmare about The Hole, an endless vertical self-management prison. And, in a nutshell, the movie is about as well-constructed as the prison shown in the movie.
The Hole is simple – two persons in a cell, one cell per floor, and an endless number of floors. From the top, the floors begin from Zero, where the working class cook the food for those in the prison, and the upper class provide them with the resources to enable it. From One, the prison begins, and as the prison lowers into darkness, the floor numbers increase. A gaping hole is present in the middle of each floor’s cell, so as to allow a huge lift of food and edibles to go down to the final floor. It is also interesting to note that the lift, during the return back to Zero, is pulled up at such great speeds that no human that tries to escape via the lift survives the journey. Like I said, The Hole is simple – two persons in a cell, one cell per floor, an endless number of floors, and the chaos that ensues every month – oh yes, the inmates are randomly assigned to different cells and different cellmates every month.
The parallel that can be drawn from this movie are very clear, and the writers intended to do so. And it works! The Platform is considered as one of the most daring pieces of filmmaking in its genre, while various critics argue that it can also be a one-of-its-kind, genre-breaking film. No rest for the wicked, and no rest for the momentum carried throughout this movie, either. Again, and again and again, by utilizing the randomness of the monthly cell-swap, the writers and the director deliver a great story with a strong screenplay. With little light-hearted bits in between such a dark setting, the movie will definitely make you feel what the protagonist is going through.
Speaking of the protagonist, the actors comprise of a huge part of the film, and play a significant role in the film’s success. With distinct character tones and acting, every member of the not-so-huge cast carve out a niche for themselves within the setting, and play their parts out to the maximum. The protagonist’s personality can be seen molded and reformed as he keeps getting beaten down by The Hole’s randomness, as he continues to feel responsible for his actions despite only having minimal control over them.
So, how does such a dark movie compare with the good times we are having during this global lockdown?
At a smaller scale, we are fighting our own demons. Families around my area, let alone the whole world, are struggling to survive as their incomes deplete. Restless kids and children, in a generation of technological advancement, are being forced to get in touch with their families for the first time in their lives – there is only so much you can do with anything, be it a gadget or a human. Elderly people, who have grown up in an era of endless human communication, are being confronted with technology and its applications. For what could be a first of its kind, all of us around the world are being forced into situations that we would rather not confront during normal times – similar to how Goreng, the protagonist, is driven to having to face The Hole in order for a diploma, a necessity.
During the first few months of the pandemic, it became completely apparent of what the world was up to, by looking at supermarkets and other shops – completely empty. In an attempt to survive what was to be a few months of lockdown, we stocked and hoarded up supplies out of fear and worry. However, there was one commodity that we did not stock (because we could not) – food. Perishable edibles and consumables are probably the only commodities that we, as a global society, did not buy and store in huge quantities. And similarly, The Hole has the same rule – you eat what you take. If you happen to store any food on your person, you are penalized. In the amount of time that the lift is available, you get to eat how much ever you can for that day.
On a global scale, from an economic point of view, the pandemic has forced us to deplete as minimum resources as we can, while we formulate how to recover from such a blow to the head. Throughout the film, this is what Goreng experiences. With every month passing by, the fears of where and how he will wake up leads to a build-up of anxiety and worry, something that is worse than even the last floor of The Hole. And in such times, it applies to us directly – stay as calm as possible, for when the time comes, we will fight our battles together.
You can watch “The Platform” on Netflix – it is a great watch during this lockdown, after all.