Pop Cultured: A message to the future in a Spanish film

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The year is starting to chill; in this week’s column, I will explore a movie that is all about the thrill.  

Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, the Spanish film “The Platform,” or “El Hoyo” in Spanish, was released on Netflix on March 20. The film explores social class in a science-fiction horror setting in a prison called the “Hole.” The prison is 333 stories tall and has a rectangular opening in the middle of each floor. Floors are arranged so the top floor is the first floor and the 333rd floor is the bottom floor. A table filled with food comes down every day through the openings and people on the top floor get first dibs.  

The higher the number, the less likely it is that there will be any food left for that floor. However, there are some more rules in the Hole. Two people live on each floor and if cellmates save the food for later, the room will either turn so hot or cold to the point that the occupants of that floor will die. Each person is allowed to bring one item with them to the prison. With the same cellmate, there is a random switching of floors that occurs each month. However, some end their lives or get killed by their cellmate before then.  

The main character, Goreng, wakes up on the 48th floor with an older cellmate, Trimagasi, who explains how the Hole works. Later on, Trimagasi and Goreng are moved to the 172nd floor. Trimigasi realizes there won’t be any food by the time the table reaches their floor and he will have to eat Goreng. A woman named Mihara comes to the rescue by killing Trimagasi in a gruesome way, and both Goreng and Mihara end up cannibalizing Trimagasi.  

Goreng later wakes up on the 33rd floor with a woman named Imoguiri. Eventually, Imoguiri and Goreng are switched to the 202nd floor, after which Imoguiri becomes depressed and ends her life. As Goreng starts to go crazy, he cannibalizes Imoguiri and hallucinates. He is soon moved to the sixth floor with a new inmate named Baharat.  

Baharat and Goreng make a plan to evenly ration out food for the floors below to send a message to the administration of the prison. They plan on using the table to descend and later ride back up to the top. They continue to ride down and ration food until they find a child on the 333rd floor. The movie ends with Goreng stepping off and the child ascending up the floors.  

According to Variety, “The Platform” did well, winning multiple awards. Some include Best Director and F/X award at the 52nd International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia. “The Platform” screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in Sept. 2019. According to Filmmaker Magazine, the popularity of “The Platform” also soared as it was released on Netflix, citing its relation to the current situation we are experiencing.  Although it doesn’t really portray Spanish culture, according to a business evaluation from the website titled Audio Visual Spain, “The Platform”  “triumphed on the festival circuit before marking a milestone in the history of Spanish cinema broadcast on Netflix.”  

“By the number of people who have been able to see it, ‘The Platform’ is the biggest success in Spanish cinema in years,” production owner, Antonio Saura, said.  While watching the film, it reminded me of  other famous dystopian films, like Bong Joon-ho’s“Parasite.” Similar to “Parasite,” the movie depicts social class division and greed, but in a more gruesome way. The floors at the top get first dibs on the food, which seems to represent the rich people in society. Meanwhile, people on lower floors get whatever is leftover and sometimes there isn’t even any food which seems to represent the lower class. People on the lower floors have to do whatever to survive — even kill or eat their own friends. 

Even though this movie is quite graphic, the portrayal of social class was well done and the message made by the movie is an important one to understand for generations to come. 

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