The Platform is symbolically rich in biblical and social themes. Here are all your ending questions answered.
For those who have already seen The Platform released over the weekend on Netflix, you know Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s film is a visceral experience. It demands something from you as you watch. You can’t sit and munch popcorn while taking in the wet slurp and crunch of near-empty bones and previously chewed chunks of food. It is designed to put the viewer in captivity with the prisoners for better or worse(mostly worse). The world of The Platform is a confusing, terrible place. Full of degradation, cruelty, death, and survival there is nothing there for those who choose self over the community. It rings even more true than when I first saw it at Fantastic Fest this past year.
The post-COVID-19 reality we now all find ourselves in easily could have been forecast by the film. Supplant 333 floors of a stacked prison system with grocery aisles and you have the same thing. Whole shelves are picked clean as people prepare to shelter in place with their 200 packages of toilet paper, 600 canned goods, and 75 pounds of meat. Just like in The Platform, for the most part, it isn’t gluttony, it is fear and savagery. Two of the more base human emotions they bring out the worst in us. As easy as it is to compare The Platform to a simple social allegory like Snowpiercer which did a similar thing with a super long train, the mysteries of The Platform go much deeper.
The Platform is a fairly simple story at first glance. A man enters a prison system run by a totalitarian agency and everyone in the prison eats only what is left from the floors above them as the platform lowers each day. If you survive you get what you contracted with the agency for. It might be a college degree or a prison sentence expunged. Each floor has two people living on them and it is survival of the fittest. A desperate woman searches for her child and our protagonist Goreng begins to understand there are somethings more important than simple survival and success. Things are far more complex than they seem, however, in this thought experiment brought to life.
Nothing You See Is Real World
The biggest truth to wrap your brain around is no one is alive in the traditional sense. Whatever happened to these people to cause them to end up in the stacked jail it happened in the real world. Goreng says he chose to be there for six months allowing himself the opportunity to get a college degree debt-free. In a sense, he did choose, just not the way we think. If you view the prison as purgatory with Heaven and Hell as 0 and 334 his decision becomes more than a simple sacrifice but rather more akin to suicide.
Everything that happens in between is part of his redemption. It could also be the ultimate test of humanity’s power for good or evil. Everyone has a specific role to play. It is important to note that even Heaven has a hierarchy however with strict rulers and weary laborers. Rather instead of 0 being Heaven, it is life as we know it and each level down is closer to Hell or the literal black pit Goreng finds himself in at the end.
Some of the more obvious(pun intended) clues are found in the early moments of the movie. Goreng volunteers to go into the system willingly in exchange for a college degree, or knowledge. Since greed and opportunity are so important the parallel between knowledge and humans fall from the Garden of Eden are apparent. Once Goreng valued knowledge over comfort or safety he established the role he would play within the prison. He represents enlightenment.
The second is Goreng’s first roommate Trimagasi. He is there because of covetous behavior and regret. Doling out personal information like an insurance company giving out meds he explains how he found himself in the hole. He explained he was put in the system for one year because he “accidentally” killed an illegal immigrant by throwing a television out of his window. He threw it out the window because he got suckered by a home shopping host. The minute he bought a knife that was advertised a commercial for an even better knife came on which made him crazy with regret and want.
The lesson of course being, be grateful for what you have and stop being envious of others and possessions. When he explains the mechanics of the platform to Goreng he posits Goreng is lucky for getting a middle floor. Too high up and you have nothing to look forward too and too far down you are forced to do terrible things. In his opinion, humans are hardwired to isolate and categorize themselves. It is us versus them. We are also lazy creatures who become complacent and when faced with less than we are used too we become despondent. Those nearer the middle never have very much but always have enough to survive. Enough keeps them going spiritually and physically.
Trimagasi also represents hate and prejudice as he feels no actual remorse for hurting anyone because they shouldn’t have been there anyway. As the film progresses he is killed by Miharu during a particularly grisly cannibalistic scene. During this scene, he also blames the floors above him for forcing him to mutilate Goreng instead of blaming himself, the knife-wielder. He continues to haunt Goreng throughout the movie including the final scene when they walk off into the darkness together. He represents man’s cruelty. Trimagasi is temptation and once Goreng turns his back on personal triumph and seeks to change his world through the message he stops tormenting Goreng and helps him find redemption in the act of saving the child.
Obviously, Trimagasi is the tester. He is a fallen angel designed to elicit violence and evil. He calls Goreng a snail which is his favorite food. This is no coincidence. He is omniscient not because the VSC told him but because he is a literal demon. 1 Timothy 5:24 talks of the obviousness of sin.
The biggest clue is the bizarre, fanatical, and reverential way the food is prepared and then transported to The Platform. Food represents life and for those on the upper floors, it is a chance to be either greedy or kind. These are criminals or debtors we have been led to believe and their food is prepared so meticulously it is absurd. Especially given the way the food is distributed. Those preparing the food and in charge wear only white and the prisoners only brown further delineating the supposed good from the bad.
Goreng’s second roommate Imoguiri brought her dog Ramesses II. That is a very curious a specific name for a pet. When the dog is killed and eaten by Miharu Goreng finally begins to help Imoguiri with her plan to ration food for those below. Pharoah Ramsess II is widely thought of as a peacemaker and one of the greatest pharaohs of Egypt. Whether he was enamored with himself or was actually that spectacular is open for debate but he is accredited with creating a huge city and brokering peace with the surrounding groups. The dog’s death certainly changed Goreng’s whole trajectory.
It’s All Biblical
Eden is level 0 and those who bite from he apple of knowledge are cast into the pit. More than once in the film apples are used to show kindness and pain. In the beginning, Goreng tries to keep an apple for later breaking the rules. In punishment, their cell becomes unbearably hot. Later in the film, Goreng throws an apple to his final roommate Baharat. The dark pit is a clear visual representation of Hell with 333 levels in between. 333 is half of the number of the beast 666.
Goreng eats human flesh in a form of bloody unholy communion and later the pages of his book. He is just a prophet however and not the Messiah as many inmates question on his way down to the lowest level. The child is the Messiah and represents hope as she is lifted on the platform to the 0 in a flood of white light. The platform is an altar and the child is the offering.
It May Be All For Naught
Just as Trimagasi tells Goreng once he eats human flesh he becomes one with their spirit when he eats the pages of his book Don Quixote he becomes the stubborn character destined to tilt at windmills forever. The child may not have the intended effect on the cooks of level 0 and nothing will change. After all, humans are a corruptible bunch.
Did Miharu Have A Child?
If you buy into the theory that she is Mary, the child was born to an unbelieving and cruel world. She initially went into the system wanting fame but found her higher purpose in her child. We know she was raped more than once so it would not be unreasonable to assume she became pregnant and had a child while in the prison. Time means nothing to those in charge and who knows how long she agreed to be there. It is interesting to note she chose as her personal item a ukelele. An instrument which could be a symbol for a harp. It is also yet another art form to be revered with the book being the second.
If The Platform shows us anything it is that humanity sucks. We are grasping hands hoarding for fear or vengeance. Paralyzed by our own stupidity we make choices that don’t better ourselves or others. It is what makes us do things like bring surfboards and money into prison. Innocent dogs get slaughtered because we are too selfish to leave them with someone to love them and make two naked old men in an inflatable pool fight over watermelon. Not since Gummo have I been so uncomfortable with food and water. The Platform is a deep movie with meanings obvious and obtuse. It is an uncomfortable truth that lurks in the back of our minds. It is also a timely warning to care for your fellow man. If you are bored with Netflix, find the best stuff on Tubi here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.