Capitalism, Greed, Inequality: The Platform
by Emily Shih
Set in futuristic Spain, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s thriller The Platform (2019) captures the flow of societal wealth from those in the highest socioeconomic statuses to those who reside in the most harrowing impoverished conditions—all through food as a metaphor. The Platform follows Goreng, the protagonist, as he volunteers to spend six months in the prison, known as “The Hole,” in exchange for an accredited educational diploma. The Hole is no ordinary prison concept. It encapsulates 333 floors of thick cement walls with a gaping square-shaped hole in the middle for the chefs on Floor 0 to drop food down from Floor 1 to the last cell on Floor 333. Once per day, the chefs painstakingly craft a luxurious feast; the resulting set up consists of a variety of gourmet dishes ranging from lobster to escargots to panna cotta.
The film centers around the distribution of these foods to all 666 prisoners. While there is theoretically enough food to go around, the prisoners at the top of The Hole take what they wish with no regard to the prisoners near the bottom of the prison. Every month, the prisoners are randomly assigned to a new floor and must deal with the implications of the feeding hierarchy. Those who are on the bottom Floors (200 and below) must resort to cannibalism as there is virtually no food left on the Platform once it reaches their level.
In the scene above, Goreng is repulsed by what is left on the table with half-eaten dishes and scraps. The disarray represents an ongoing theme of the prisoners’ lack of cooperation. If the prisoners above them would only eat until satisfied and not binge on whatever food they got their hands on, everyone in the prison would be fed. Instead, prisoners like Goreng’s cellmate capitalizes on the opportunity to gorge themselves without thinking of anyone but themselves.
How the prisoners respond to food in The Platform forces the viewer to confront societal injustices of capitalism, greed, and inequality. What starts as a luxurious feast on Floor 1 becomes a mere table of empty platters on Floor 333, highlighting the dark reality of how those with more resources easily disregard those without—as long as their stomachs are full.
The Platform. Dir. G. Gaztelu-Urrutia. Netflix Studios, 2019.