Prison movies are a great way to examine society as a whole. The enclosed setting serves as a microscope focused on our world. By taking a sample of the population the story tries to figure out what the whole is like. Spain’s The Platform is a science fiction movie that scrutinizes the public by inspecting the ideals that govern them.
The Platform takes place in a large tower style prison called The Pit. Food is delivered starting from the top level via a platform. The lower levels eat the leftovers of the floors above them. Each person sentenced the The Pit is allowed to take one item of their choosing with them. Goreng is a new occupant who is trying to learn how to survive in his new surroundings.
The Platform is one of the most unique looking films of the year. The vast majority of the movie takes place in the odd jail. Though the movie moves to various levels, the cells are always the same: four bare grey walls. There is also one bed and sink for each of the two people per level. The minimalist look is perfect for the film.
The bare bones aesthetic is slightly broken by the use of color. More often than not, the film is whitewashed in stark grays. When there is color, it is usually in dark reds or blues. Due to its nature, The Pit already has an odd feel. Adding these ominous hues serve to increase this mood. The characters are literally left in the dark. There is nothing to see or hope for. This is done so effectively, that even a color as simple as a basic green will stand out to the audience.
Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia does a great job of giving his movie a claustrophobic atmosphere. Though it takes place in cells, the setting is enormous. Occupants are able to look up and down The Pit. These shots show the seeming endlessness of the structure. The fact no one knows just how large the tower is adds to its size. Still, the movie feels very cramped. (Though the occupants of the cells are able to freely move around inside them, the large gaping hole in the middle gives very little space.)
This helps the overall mood of The Platform. A sense of desperation permeates the whole movie. Every action seems less conscious choice and more rash decision. The tight quarters and time limit placed on how long the food stays on a level heightens this feeling. There is simply never enough space or time for the characters to do or say what they need to. It also leaves one question hanging over the entire film: why would anyone do this to other people?
That question may be a the center of The Platform. The story is clearly commenting on class division. Since the lower levels only eat leftovers from those above them, there is a sense of inferiority. However, they also have a sense of superiority to those below them. Making things more interesting is each month the prisoners are moved to a new random level. In effect, a person social status changes on a monthly basis. The one thing that never changes is the people in the lower levels think those above are better. Due to the circumstances in The Pit, it is not hard to see why.
The movie also forces the audience to ask, are the actions in the prison human nature or are they made with fully awareness? In other words, how much do we care about our fellow members of society? It is stated that there is enough food to make it from the top level all the way to the bottom. The only thing needed is for the inmates from each of preceding levels to ration what they eat.
This knowledge is what makes The Platform so frightening. The people in the structure may be literal prisoners, but they also seem to be imprisoned by their own selfishness. Eating enough to stay alive will not suffice. It is also necessary to demean and degrade those who are beneath you. It is a sad commentary that is rooted in the real world.
The Platform uses an interesting premise to talk about an ages old issue that still exists in modern society. Using a tower like prison, the story is a commentary on class division how they affect how people look at life. The story is brutal and violent and has a unique look. It is a claustrophobic film that will have audiences examining the world they live in.