“The penna cotta is the answer.”
THE VERTICAL PRISON
The Platform (Gaztelu-Urrutia, 2019) is a Spanish film with subtitles. The movie is about an experiment in which a makeshift prison is constructed. Instead of hallways as in most prisons, this prison consists of a certain number of floors considered a vertical prison. Although you don’t know how many floors until the end,
PLATFORM OF FOOD
Goereng signs up to be part of an experiment and wakes up on level 48. His cellmate schools him about the vertical prison, and the different levels. At one point a giant platform full or food arrives through a hole in the ceiling above them, which is the hole in that cell’s floor. This giant platform of food arrives at each cell from above them and will keep going to the cells below them. The food has been picked over and eaten and each cell is allowed 2-5 minutes to eat. Each platform below the one above gets what’s left of the food, even if it’s food another has eaten and discarded. The cell is numbered from top to bottom beginning with zero and ending at a certain number. Level zero is where the food is made and placed on the platform. The final level? Well, the journey is the adventure and the final cell is the answer.
WHEN THE PLATFORM ARRIVES…
When the food arrives, Goereng refuses to eat a few days for the food does look disgusting. The food only arrives once a day and there are no other means of getting snacks or other food. Prisoners find ways to hoard food, but there’s a consequence to their action if found out. After a few days, Goereng decides to eat what he can. From his cellmate, he learns that the cell he’s in may not be the same in the morning.
NEW DAY, NEW CELL
When a prisoner goes to sleep the night there’s a high probability they will be moved to a different cell. How it’s done is not made clear to the viewer, and the prisoner is not aware of the move until they awake the next morning and find themselves with a new cellmate. Through these different cellmates, Goereng is given a little bit more insight into the type of people housed in the vertical prison and a little bit about the experiment.
Each platform Goereng wakes up in has him faced with a new cellmate and new lessons to learn. Some to his benefit, some not. Eventually, he learns the truth, but will the truth set him free?
ADDED CAMERA SHOTS NOT NEEDED – WELL JUST ONE
Camera shots can add a great deal to a story. Martin Scorsese uses great camera work in his films to either enhance the story or add to it. Overhead shots (aka birdseye view or elevated views) are used often by him. Boon Joon Ho used a number of these shots in Parasite (Ho, 2019) for scenes in which an important event is to take place or something drastic is about to happen. The Platform doesn’t use much in the way of camera shots to tell the story for the story is already there visually with the color of the cells, the layout of the cells, the platform that arrives daily and the cast of characters within the vertical prison.
The only camera shot used is in the beginning and it’s called a ‘follow shot’. Follow shot is when someone is being ‘pursued’ by a Steadicam. These shots make the viewer feel like they are either the person being followed or is with the person being followed. Follow shots add a bit of secrecy in which the viewer is only privy to. This also, if the viewer is paying attention, provides a bit of spoiler for the rest of the movie.
THE PLATFORM IS A METAPHOR
This movie is not liked by a lot of people. It could be they don’t understand it or were looking for answers at the end to explain everything. However, if they listen closely and pay attention throughout the film, most of the answers are given to them. Although the ending does leave you perplexed, this is the beauty of movies such as this. Also, an enigma of a movie like this should leave the viewer with more questions than answers. It should open the viewer’s mind to possibilities and have them questioning what they would do in Goereng’s situation. One question being, would they volunteer for such an experiment?
Should you watch the movie, watch it with the idea that the platform itself, could be a metaphor.
The Platform is currently streaming on Netflix with a runtime of 94 minutes. Drama, Thriller with some Horror mixed in.
Side note: The final level is significant, but not until the end of the movie. The movie as a whole is a road map to the final level, figuratively and literally.
And I leave you with this.
“Yeah, I might seem so strong / Yeah, I might speak so long / I’ve never been so wrong.” Strong by London Grammarly