The Platform, which dropped on Netflix Friday, March 20, was released at the absolute best and absolute worst time. It’s very much on the nose, highly indebted to Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 effort Snowpiercer, not for the squeamish, not for the socially conservative and subtitled. It’s also a fuckin’ masterpiece.
The Platform won The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It also won a Goya Award (Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars) for Best Special Effects and a Gaudí Award (the main film awards of Catalonia) for Best Visual Effects. At the Goyas it was nominated for Best New Director (Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia) and Best Original Screenplay (David Desola, Pedro Rivera). At the Gaudís it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Non-Catalan Language Film and Special Audience Award for Best Film. Even with all these accolades, it won’t prepare you for how masterful, prescient, timely and evocative The Platform truly is.
The Platform is a dystopic sci-fi/horror film that often delves into social critique and satire. Ivan Massagué stars as Goreng, a man who voluntarily enters a prison called The Hole in exchange for a collegiate degree that should improve his life on the outside. The Hole is a many hundreds of stories-tall institution in which two people share a cell/level. There’s a hole in the middle of the floor of each unit through which the titular object descends. On said platform is a literal smorgasbord. Those on the highest levels get first crack at the buffet and often gorge themselves. Those on the lowest levels get scraps if there’s any to be had – most often have to resort to more drastic measures to satiate themselves. No one can take food from the platform for later consumption lest they be blasted with extreme heat or extreme cold that’ll either burn or freeze ‘em to death.
Prisoners switch levels and cellies once a month. Goreng has a handful of different bunkmates – there’s Trimagasi (Zorian Eguileor) an older man who shows Goreng the ropes, Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan) a company woman who wants to see how the other half lives and Baharat (Emilio Buale) a large black man who has his sights set on escape. There’s also a wild card – her name’s Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay), who often rides the platform level-to-level looking for her child who may or may not exist and meting out justice/abuse should the situation dictate it. Prisoners are allowed to bring one item into the facility with them. Goreng brings a copy of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, which is apropos as he’s the sort to tilt at windmills. He’s also the first to bring a book into the big house. Others bring in a kitchen knife ordered off an infomercial, a wiener dog, a rope, a surfboard … all sorts of shit.
I wouldn’t recommend eating during The Platform as the food’s often absolutely revolting to look at and there are graphic depictions of cannibalism. That said, I would wholeheartedly advise adventurous cineastes give it a whirl. Sure, it’s subtitled and violent as all hell, but it’s only 94 minutes and also holds a message that’s important for all of us to heed … especially now. There was no place for greed, overconsumption and hoarding before these past few weeks and there’s certainly no place for it now. We’re only as strong as our weakest link. We need to lift one another up – metaphorically, not physically – please, stay the hell away from me. What’s good for one is good for all. Be good to yourselves. Be good to each other. Be the change. Be the message. These are the principles upon which The Platform is built.