Friday, April 03, 2020

El hoyo/The Platform (2019)

If you watch enough movies, you tend to see patterns.  You’ll see elements of one movie in another.  It’s easy to compare The Platform to Cube, but it’s really not the same thing.  This isn’t some loose remake of another movie.  I’m not saying it’s entirely original, but it does stand on its own.

The Platform follows Goreng as he finds himself in a tall tower.  Each floor is a cell shared by two people.  Goreng entered voluntarily, hoping to earn a degree by the end of his six-month stay.  He’s initially paired with Trimagasi, who we find out accidentally killed someone.

Each cell has little more than two beds, a sink and a toilet.  Each person is allowed one personal item to help pass the time.  (Goreng brings a book, but it can be anything.)  Food is delivered once a day on a platform that goes from the top floor down.  By the time it reaches Goreng and Trimagasi on level 48, there’s not much left.  Trimagasi is happy for a bottle of wine.

Herein lies the problem.  There’s supposed to be enough food for everyone, assuming each person takes their share.  The catch is that there’s nothing stopping the first level from taking everything.  In fact, the only condition seems to be that you can’t save anything for later.  You have to eat while the platform is there.  If you hold onto anything, the temperature either rises or falls to a dangerous level unless you throw it down to the next level.

People are reassigned to a new level every 30 days.  People are kept together unless someone has completed their term or they die.  The level assignment seems to be random.  You could kill someone and end up on a higher level.  You could be a saint and wind up on a lower level.  Trimagasi has been on lower levels and does not like the prospect of going back.

Even though everyone has been on a lower level, they’d just as soon shit on you as help you.  (This literally happens in one scene.)  There’s little empathy.  There’s also no way to really affect anyone on the levels above.  One could make threats, but not carry them out.  People only have the hope of attaining a higher level next month.

There is a disturbing element to the movie.  Several people are killed and in rather gruesome ways.  Having to go a month with no food will make people do crazy things.  If you’re at all squeamish, there will be things that will bother you in this movie.  (No, it’s not a good idea to bring a dog as your personal item.)

Mostly, it’s commentary.  When people have to share resources, there really is no good answer.  If we are told to share, that doesn’t happen.  People without access will have to go without, and that’s not going to look pretty.

Any alternative starts to look like socialism and is frowned upon.  The intent is to help people, but why should one person go without for the benefit of another?  It’s the perfect example of the tragedy of the commons.  Everyone takes what they can get.

It’s also easy to say you would help people, but most wouldn’t.  Even when Goreng wakes up on a single-digit level, he finds he has no control over those above him and little control over those below him.  There’s not much he can do except threaten those on the level below him to fall in line.  Even then, there’s no promise that the instructions will be followed all the way down.

I suppose that’s life.  Some will suffer.  I think the big question is how do we treat others?  Even knowing what it’s like to be on the bottom, some people will grab all the money that they can.  I feel that while the movie isn’t perfect, it does illustrate the dilemma pretty well.

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