A review of "The Platform (El hoyo)" - An open critique of our consumerist society
The movie, which is set in a bizarre jail, is told from the perspective of the lead character Goreng (Iván Massagué, who played the rebellious stutterer in Guillermo del Toro's The Faun's Labyrinth). Goreng freely chooses to take part in a social experiment that will last for six months and provide him with a certificate of permanence.
The experiment involves residing in a subterranean structure with numbered floors that runs vertically. Two convicts (volunteers, psychiatric patients, or criminals) share a toilet, two mattresses, and towels in a single cell on each floor. Each month, every prisoner switches cells (and subsequently floors) in a completely arbitrary order. The only constant is their companion, who will remain the same in the subsequent cell if they are still alive.
The rectangular opening in the middle of the prison is where a platform carrying each prisoner's preferred dishes passes once daily. Starting at floor 0, the highest level where chefs of fine dining make the food, the platform stops every two levels for two minutes.
The fate of the prisoners who arrive at the meal hungry will be more critical as you descend since those on the upper floors will gorge themselves out of dread of running out of food the next month. In actuality, it is not allowed to hold or store food. The cell then experiences a sharp shift in temperature due to cooling or overheating.
They can only keep one thing from the outside in the cell. The majority of prisoners pick a stick or something sharp or cutting.
Why you should watch it?
- A critic to society: The clear denunciation of man's avarice, which is guilty of putting his personal interests ahead of those of the community, can be seen throughout the movie. In those levels where the platform arrives empty and without food, men are forced to eat among themselves, while those at the top do not consider the needs of those at the bottom. The central theme of the movie is man's greed, making symbolic the scenes taking place in the prisoners' "cells" at the top, where they are completely careless of other people. Man is motivated by his desires and instincts, which cause him to resort to violence and to believe in the concept of "Mors tua vita mea." With its circles and creepy characters, The Hole is an evident huge portrayal of Dante's Hell. However, what really stands out is the utilization of a popular genre to address a societal subject that is particularly prevalent in modern cinema.
- The role of food: The importance of food is highlighted by the way it is shown as an object that is both sacred and profane, a symbol of wealth and survival, the most sought-after item in the world yet, depending on the sequences, also the most repulsive. And when a panna cotta is chosen as a symbol of hope for reasons we invite you to learn about by watching the movie, there is a catharsis that highlights the cruelty of the universe the director imagined.
- Strenght vs intellect: There is only one setting in the movie, which is called "the hole." This is nothing more than a horrifying prison where convicts are only permitted to carry one item of their choosing. The protagonist Goreng compares it to the book Don Quixote de la Mancha, while his companion Trimagasi is a razor-sharp knife. Therefore, in their decision, we see the conflict between strength and intellect from the outset, in a dialectic that will be developed throughout the story. The protagonist will strive to use his intelligence to change this abnormal order of things after realizing the mechanism that causes people at the top to live at the expense of those below, but he will have little success.
- Fear changes us: Our culture is ruled by embedded, frequently hidden fear, which erupts violently, particularly in two situations: the fear of never having enough and the fear of the other.
In the first instance, we are confronted with purely desire-based anthropology. We desire what we lack, and if we already possess something, we want to hold onto it. This constant restlessness, which never feels satisfied, has grave consequences and pushes us to act in extremely selfish ways. The health emergency has once again shown the alarmingly prevalent mentality that selfishness prevails above altruism. Every day, we see actual raids on supermarkets that are emptied out of concern for running out of food (just to give one example), without even thinking that someone might remain without food. In the second instance, fear of the other manifests itself in numerous ways both onscreen and in real life. The comparison to guns could be the most notable. Following the coronavirus-caused shutdown, there was a startling rise in firearms and ammunition in the United States. It was, and still is, a health emergency. Why are even gun stores empty? The old adage, "Hunger always leads to madness," is a fantastic way to express how fearful and conscious one is that lacking something essential—in this case, food—can cause one to become a robber or, at worse, a murderer. People arm themselves out of a fear that their territory—their house, their place of business, or even their body—will be invaded.
The movie has a lot of interesting themes and gives an insight into our society which should make us reflect. It is not a masterpiece, but I recommend watching it and taking a few minutes after you finish it to reflect on what the director of the movie wants to convey.
My personal vote (mostly for the thematics treated and the lesson it wants to teach) is: