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Film / The Platform

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"Hunger unleashes the madman in us."

The Platform is a 2019 Spanish horror/thriller film directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia.

The movie takes place in a vertical prison that is divided into levels, each with two prisoners and a hole in both the ceiling and floor. Each day, a platform full of immaculately made food descends through these holes and stops at each level. Prisoners are given a limited amount of time to eat what they can before it leaves their level and goes to the one below them. Due to the greed and privilege of the prisoners who reside in the higher levels, the food is invariably reduced to scraps after a while, while the lowest prisoners can only dream of getting that much. The movie focuses on an idealistic newcomer who came to this hellhole of his own accord, and tries to provoke change among the prisoners and thereby send a message to the administration.

Tropes present in this film include:

  • Allegory:
    • The prison is a pretty obvious allegory for wealth and social inequality. People on the top force everyone below them to live on their scraps, and they sometimes literally shit on the people below them.
    • Goreng and Baharat's descent and forceful rationing of the food can be seen as the process of a revolution attempt, as at first they violently have to prevent the people in the upper levels from grabbing the food, then a wise old man in the lower levels tells them that they must first attempt to convince the others before resorting to violence, then they start convincing people and only use violence against those who disregard what they say.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Samurai Max is a knife sharpener that can make blades into this; the Samurai Plus is this by default.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Trimagasi starts addressing Goreng as “little snail”, after comparing his preparation and consumption of Goreng’s flesh to Goreng’s favorite dish, Escargots à la Bourguignonne.
  • All for Nothing: An earlier scene of a head chef barking at his employees for getting hair in a serving of panna cotta heavily implies that the message Goreng and Baharat literally fought to send was not received.
  • All There in the Manual: Mahiru's daughter is named Mali.
  • Ambiguous Ending:
    • The final scene of the film is Goreng choosing to stay in the void beneath the 333rd floor while the child goes to Floor 0 to be a message to the Administration. What happens to Goreng and the child, and whether anything changes for the better, is left unknown.
    • One interpretation of the ending is that the final scenes are in reality a hallucination of Goreng, which is hinted by a scene which shows the head chef berating the other cooks while holding the panna cotta in which he found a hair on it; the chef then attempts to find the culprit by comparing the hairs but finds no match. This hints that Goreng and Baharat succeeded in sending the dessert back to the top (and got a hair on it) but the message they interpreted was that the dish was rejected because of the contamination.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Much of the plot and characters' backstories are left up to interpretation, especially when several characters turn out to be Unreliable Expositors due to legitimately not knowing everything they're talking about, which casts everything else they say into question.
  • Animal Motifs: Goreng’s favorite dish is Escargots à la Bourguignonne, a dish comprised of snails. His slow change and journey in the system and careful approach reflect the traits of a humble snail. Trimagasi mentions this dish without knowing the former’s fondness for it, comparing it to how he plans to prepare and eventually eat Goreng. He even creepily starts referring to Goreng as “[his] little snail”.
  • Anyone Can Die: This is the type of story to easily make way for this trope. The major losses include Trimagasi, Imoguiri, her dog Rameses, Miharu, Baharat, and very likely Goreng.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Obviously."
    • "There are three types of prisoners: The ones above, the ones below, and the ones who fall."
    • "The panna cotta is the message."
      • "The girl is the message."
  • Artistic License – Biology: The chances of Goreng surviving as long as he did is near impossible. The average body can last around 30-40 days without food and not tied to a bed for 8 days. Not moving for 8 days with such a severe calorie deficiency would, at least, turn his muscles into jello. There is also the circulation issue: bodies that have little movement are prone to blood clots, hence why comatose or non-ambulating patients are moved constantly. A very likely outcome would have been Goreng having a heart attack or stroke via the now dislodged blood clot. As soon as he got up, he would have likely been a goner.
    • The chances of anyone surviving is a statistical nightmare. While doing the math, the average human body needs, at minimum, 2000 calories for the average man not to lose around a pound a day. If someone lasted a full month without food (while losing around 30 pounds), they would need to be on the floor, ideally, 50 and above so they can binge at least 1000 extra calories to gain weight to not potentially starve to death the next month. For someone to get spot 100 out of 666 once is 15%. For someone to get 100 out of 666 twice in a row is 8%.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Goreng hallucinates Imoguiri, right after she committed suicide, quoting John 6:53:
    "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The titular platform is loaded with all of the favorite foods of the current month's inmates, which means cakes, alcohol and other fine-dining level foods. While extravagant and highly-caloric for many possible foods, this means that it does not hold meals that can possibly support people with nutritional value or (in the case of the alcohol) possibly worsens their hunger.
    • People have a choice to bring one thing that they treasure into the Hole with them. Examples include some choosing weapons or anything that can be used as such, while others have taken books and at one point, a surfboard.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Baharat wrestles with the katana-wielding prisoner after getting his abdomen sliced open, we get a close-up of the two, with a loud stabbing sound and a shocked expression from the former. Baharat actually successfully impaled the attacker.
  • Bait the Dog: Baharat pleads with the couple above him to help him climb and escape. They humor his religious ramblings and offer to hoist the rope up. When he climbs up, the woman shits in his face and nearly causes him to fall down the hole.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Goreng's genuine concern for Miharu, and debating coming to her aide fighting two lower prisoners, leads her to save him from Trimagasi later.
    • Trimagasi was also hesitant to eat or at least harm Goreng specifically because of how much he genuinely cared for him.
  • Black Comedy: A blink and you will miss it variant; Miharu is saved by Goreng after presumably being beaten/raped by prisoners above them; they nurse her back to health and she repays them by killing and gutting Imoguiri's dog, the reason she does this is so she can make a bag out of its skin to carry food with her. Making a literal doggy bag.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Trimagasi was driven into a rage when he purchased an expensive knife sharpener only to soon afterwards see the exact same company and pitchman advertise a self-sharpening knife, the Samurai-Plus. His own outside object is a Samurai-Plus, which he always keeps on hand and brandishes frequently.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Goreng early on gets some blood from a prisoner above him splashed on his face early on, and later, he is absolutely caked in it after the brawl with the prisoners who killed Miharu, along with Baharat.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Goreng uses Trimagasi's "obviously" after some time living with him. Trimagasi doesn't like it one bit, as he considers that word to be "his". Goreng starts using it more frequently after Trimagasi dies.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Prisoners on each level are left concerned with themselves and whatever happens upon their floor. Trimagasi has fully adopted this as being part of the system, not wanting anything to do with what goes on above and trying to make Goreng not care about Miharu fighting the prisoners below them.
  • Catchphrase: Trimagasi considers "obviously" to be his word, to the point of being annoyed when Goreng uses it.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Spending enough time in the Hole will let the prisoners treat resorting to cannibalism and people falling from the upper levels to commit suicide with nonchalance.
  • Deal with the Devil: Most if not all of the prisoners in the Hole are there voluntarily, usually regarding some great reward or avoidance of punishment. That is of course if they don't mind being trapped in a place where they could easily die.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Imoguiri crosses this when Miharu kills her dog for food. She spends quite some time curled up on her bed, crying her eyes out, still skipping meals on the days she usually set aside for him as if believing that he's still alive.
    • Goreng crosses it after Miharu dies. This is likely what causes him to start hallucinating.
  • Dirty Communists: When Goreng tries to talk with the upper-level people to ration their food for the lower-level ones, he gets accused by Trimagasi of being a communist.
  • Downer Ending: Possibly. If everything was just a hallucination, the entire main cast is dead, the message was not received, and Miharu never found her child. Neither did Goreng.
  • Driven to Suicide: Imougiri, after she ends up on a level lower than she was told was possible, with levels further down still visible. And plenty of unfortunate people who find themselves on the wrong level.
  • Dying Dream: Considering Goreng's gradual Sanity Slippage, it's possible that Mali is a hallucination, as the Flash Forward earlier had no mention nor appearance from her despite the panna cotta being in the chef's hands (and it's also fully intact despite her eating it), and earlier, Miharu's child was mentioned as being male.
  • Drunk with Power: This is the attitude acquired by prisoners even if they aren't that high up in the Hole. The ones above stuff their faces with as much food as they can stomach in one minute, then when it comes time to pass the rest to the levels below, they may leave behind all sorts of contamination. Trimagasi is only on level 48, which means that he is eating from the leftovers of, at the most, 96 other prisoners, yet relishes the moment to taunt the lower levels and spit out uneaten food back onto the platform simply because there are prisoners below.
  • Edible Theme Naming: As seen in the entry for Meaningful Name, many of the characters are named after a type of dish. It fits with the setting's emphasis on the importance of food.
  • Eldritch Location: Although not built by aliens (maybe, we never find out anything about the mysterious administration), "The Hole" defies all logic; the prison has 333 floors (with 666 inmates) but has no foundations underneath it all (leading to an endless black void). The platform itself has no mechanism to move it, instead simply floating down seemingly by magic, and speeds up at the end of the day before cancelling all momentum when it reaches the top. Additionally, there aren't any other doors or access on the floors but every month the prisoners get re-shuffled from their levels off-screen after being put to sleep, and the building itself has no cameras but is able to detect when any prisoners hoard any food, and each floor is capable of either cooking or freezing the inmates in that floor without any of the heat or frost escaping into either the floor below or above.
    • On the other hand, Trimagasi's item of choice is a knife capable of cutting through reinforced concrete with little to no effort (and indefinitely sharpens itself); since such a miracle device is not only available on the open market but also treated as only somewhat handy by people who know about it; the technology level in this world is clearly far more advanced than our own; building a place like "The Hole" might be extremely easy for builders in this universe to create.
  • Extreme Omnivore: As the platform lowers and less food is available, people get less fussy over what they will eat.
    Trimagasi: NOT EVEN A BONE!!!
  • Food Porn: The opening scenes showing the food being meticulously prepared and served, and later showing the preparation and serving of Escargots à la Bourguignonne.
    • Subverted whenever our protagonists get the platform on their floors, as by that time, the formerly extravagant food is reduced to a sickening mush, which may or may not have human waste in it. At best, it'll just be bones and scraps, with a loose, pristine-condition item that nobody wanted.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Possibly. Earlier in the film, the head chef of the Administration can be seen berating a chef for allegedly getting some hair in a serving of panna cotta. The only other time we see panna cotta is in the final stretch of the film, where Goreng and Baharat protect a small dish of panna cotta that looks a lot like the one we see in that scene in order to send a message to the Administration. However, Mali, Miharu's lost child, eats it, with Goreng deciding to send her up instead as a stronger message. Considering that the chef never considers the possibility of it being Mali's hair, and the fact that the panna cotta is still fully intact, it's possible that Mali never even existed, as Imoguiri claimed, and sadly, the message was not received either way, as the chef, who has zero knowledge of the true nature of what the prison even is, interprets the stray hair on the untouched panna cotta as terrible food service.
  • Foreshadowing: Imoguiri despite her claims of having worked for the Administration, being proven wrong on the number of levels the Hole has, foreshadows also (apparently) being wrong on her claim that no one under 16 is ever admitted to the Hole.
  • For the Evulz: Prisoners from above tend to insult and mock those below simply because they can. That is, if they will bother even listening to them.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The buzz heard every time the platform moves between levels.
  • Hellhole Prison: In "The Hole", a platform of food is lowered down level-by-level, with each level granted one minute to eat. If you occupy the topmost floors, you're looking to eat fine dining, but around the fiftieth, the food is reduced to scraps, and eventually nothing at all. Keeping food past the one minute will get you frozen or burned alive. So you have a very good chance of going a whole month (or even longer) starving to death. On top of the food situation, there is no regulation for the prisoner's behavior: they can murder, rape, and cannibalize each other all they want. Because of the the prison's brutal conditions, multiple characters have compared "The Hole" to hell.
  • Humans Are Bastards: A recurring theme with its allegory for society. The upper levels help themselves to fine dining while the lower levels only get scraps, or even lower, nothing at all. The only reason why the lower levels even get food is that the upper prisoners' stomachs can only hold so much, and the system forces people to never save food for later. Along the way, prisoners may put human waste onto the platform simply because they could. The hunger brought on by the refusal to ration resources and the cruelty of the lower levels drives people to cannibalize, fight and more, but as Trimagasi reasons, he wouldn't do these things to be outright evil but because he is scared and pushed into a corner.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: What those at the lower levels must do if they wish to survive, as the platform runs out of food quickly. Trimagasi is revealed to have partaken in the consumption of human flesh (though he refutes the implication that he ever killed someone for it and that it was the corpse of a suicide victim), and was fully prepared to do it again when he and Goreng find themselves on Level 171 (though again, he refutes killing Goreng and claims he'll only eat enough to keep himself alive while nursing Goreng's wounds). Goreng himself winds up eating at least a bit of both Trimagasi and Imoguiri, after Imoguiri hangs herself on a lower level.
  • Improvised Weapon: Goreng and Baharat take out their bed frames and break off the bars to use as weapons.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: People who are sent to the higher levels are usually people who have spent time in the lower levels, since which level you're in is random (or at least 50/50 on whether you're sent to a good level each month). Meaning if you don't fatten yourself up one month you could easily starve to death the next month; even with the forced rationing, they have clearly run out of food when they hit the bottom levels (and that's with several empty levels).
  • Jump Scare: Someone above Floor 47 jumps and lands directly in front of Goreng as he's chatting with Trimagasi.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The line of knife products that Trimagasi bought have "Samurai" in the name. The advertisements touted the amazing sharpness the products provide, referencing the legends of katana. Also, one of the convicts' items of choice was a katana.
  • Madness Mantra:
    "The panna cotta is the message.."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Some of the names are inspired from Indonesian terms and words, such as:
      • Goreng is named after "goreng", which literally means fried and a catch-all term for fried dishes (such as nasi goreng that means fried rice).
      • Trimagasi's name references "terima kasih," which means "thank you".
      • Imougiri is named after a royal graveyard in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
      • Sr. Brambang is Indonesian and Javanese for shallot.
    • Baharat is named after Middle Eastern spice blend.
    • Rameses the Second is named after the Pharaoh believed to be the one from the Book of Exodus who was the recipient of God's message from Moses to release his captive slaves.
  • Messianic Archetype: Goreng comes to see himself like this. In the end, though, he's come to view the child as this instead.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Both Goreng and Imoguiri serve this role in the movie, with Goreng entering the Platform to attain a title, and Imoguiri entering to try and make the prison a better place. Both of them lose that innocence brutally quickly.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Trimagasi:
      • After causing the death of an illegal immigrant in the past he refuses to take responsibility for it by saying that he (the immigrant) shouldn't even have been there in the first place.
      • Later he blames the circumstances that put them in a lower floor for forcing him to restrain Goreng in order to periodically harvest his flesh for food. Goreng outright calls him out for it and in no uncertain terms puts all the blame on him.
    • Imougiri:
      • Despite of clear implications that The Hole is a place of concern, and the interesting number of people who went in and never returned, she still worked for The Hole for 25 years and refuse to acknowledge her own part in this systemic abuse. For entire 25 years. Instead she claimed that she's innocent because she chose to remain ignorant.
  • Noodle Implements: Imoguiri questions why the hell Goreng would bring a book into the hole; she undoubtedly asked the same question when another prisoner demanded to bring in a surfboard.
  • Not So Invincible After All: While Miharu is a blade-wielding psychopath who is more than capable of killing people when threatened; she is routinely beaten and raped by those who are able to overpower her until she eventually comes across a couple of guys willing to murder and eat her.
  • Number of the Beast: There are, in total, 333 floors. With 2 prisoners for each floor, this means that the total prisoner population maxes out at 666.
  • The Perfectionist: The kitchen and its inspector make sure that the food that they prepare is spotless and delectable. The inspector is outraged by the sight of a hair on a panna cotta they prepared.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Trimagasi seems to think very little of the illegal immigrant he killed, simply believing that it was their fault for being illegally inside the country in the first place when he threw the TV.
    • Goreng's hallucination of Trimagasi later refers to the recently-deceased Baharat as "the black guy", which could be a stretch but considering what we know about Trimagasi, it could be Goreng interpreting him as a racist.
    • Imoguiri gets a bit personal about Miharu's ethnicity after the latter kills the former's dog, Rameses, mocking her "slit eyes" and how she wanted to be "the Asian Marilyn Monroe".
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Goreng and Baharat are ready to enforce their protest and rationing by force right away. Brambang reworks their approach so that they try words first and brandish their weapons only when necessary.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Goreng starts to lose his grip on reality after everything the Hole puts him through and starts to hallucinate Imoguiri and Trimagasi talking to him.
    • Imoguiri continues skipping the days she put aside for her dog to eat even after Miharu kills him.
    • Imoguiri theorizes that this has happened to Miharu. Imoguiri interviewed her and noted that she brought a ukulele, has no family members including children, and went in with the intention of becoming famous as an actress. Her descending down the Hole seeking a child might have resulted from her spending 10 months in the system.
  • Shoot the Television: Trimagasi tells Goreng that the reason he's in the Hole is that upon purchasing the Samurai Max he saw another commercial announcing the Samurai Plus, and in a fit of rage he took his TV and threw it off the window and fell on top of an illegal immigrant, killing him.
  • Skewed Priorities: The facility operating The Hole enforces rules that practically force the majority of the prisoners to either starve or resort to cannibalism, and even the better off levels can form enough class resentment that they spit or worse in food meant for those worse off. Still, a head chef becomes enraged at a cook and feels the need to humiliate him in front of his peers because the cook got a hair in the prisoners' food. However, this is justified: Imoguiri claimed she had zero knowledge of the reality inside the prison and it's probable that the chef and his staff don't either.
  • Spirit Advisor: Every one of Goreng's deceased acquaintances shows up in his hallucinations to guide him on his journey.
  • Toilet Humor: Some cheap laughs are made here and there from the prisoners urinating or defecating on each other — some being in-universe jokes only.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Imoguiri's demeanor changes from sternly sweet to coldly bitter after her dog is killed.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • While Miharu saved Goreng's life once because he tried to help her; when he and Imoguiri nurse her back to health later, she kills their dog. Leaning on the idea that she didn't kill Trimagasi because Goreng tried to help her earlier but because she just wanted to.
    • Another prisoner in the lower levels gleefully tells Baharat that despite being given something to eat, he intends to butcher his cellmate in his sleep and cannibalise him anyway.
  • Unreliable Expositor:
    • Trimigasi gives Goreng his initial information on how day-to-day life in the Hole works and even some of his backstory, but some of what he says is questionable. Goreng, for example, doesn't seem to buy fully into Trimigasi's denial that he killed and ate his last cellmate to survive and instead survived off someone Driven to Suicide from an upper floor that fell into his level, but whether it's true or not is never made clear. There's also Trimigasi's account of about Miharu's motivations, which are directly challenged by Imoguiri once she arrives and recognizes her.
    • Imoguiri, despite directly working for the Administration. She claims that there are 200 floors and that Miharu's child can't possibly be in the prison, as they don't take kids under 16. Both of these claims are wrong. At least the first, as Imoguiri directly states after recognizing Miharu that she doesn't have a child.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: Imoguiri theorizes that the system of the Hole was organized to study human behavior and discover a way to make the prisoners work together to share their resources, in order for the Administration to apply a similar system on the rest of the outside world. Goreng continues this by saying that, if the experimentation is true, then it is not to cause people to rally together to unite, but is rather providing the Administration a new approach to control the world based on the Hole's population.
  • Villainous Glutton: All of the prisoners, even at the higher levels. When Goreng ends up at level 6, those below on level 7 waste no time climbing on top of the platform to gorge themselves, stomping on much of the food all the way.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Goreng, Imoguiri, and Baharat are all way too naïve towards the harsh reality of human nature. That gets shut down quick.
  • Wham Shot:
    • First, after Imoguiri (who worked directly for the Administration) claims that there are 200 levels, the next month, Goreng wakes up and sees that his new level's number is 202 and there are still more levels down.
    • Later during Goreng and Baharat's descent, they pass by Goreng's estimated number of floors. It turns out the Hole is comprised of 333 floors, meaning that more than 250 people are left to starve every month. And that's just assuming they don't cannibalize to survive or are Driven to Suicide. Even if everyone worked together, there's no way that the daily food is enough to feed all 666 people.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: One prisoner chose a giant bag of money as his item in the prison (probably expecting to keep it if he made it out) and gives it as a thank you for bringing down food to his level. Goreng is clearly unimpressed.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Imoguiri, who used to work for the Administration behind the Hole, states that those under 16 are not allowed into the system. Given Miharu's mission, this may not be true, but this is all muddled by the ambiguity of Miharu's mission and mental state (Trimigasi is the one to explain it, after all, and Miharu never does) and the question of whether or not Goreng completely hallucinated Mali in the final act.

The panna cotta is the message.