Are people too selfish to prevent others from starving to death? That’s the central question of the film The Platform, recently made available on Netflix.
Part parable about overconsumption, part enquiry about human nature, it’s a hard watch.
The viewer is invited to believe in a dystopian society which sees people volunteering to be incarcerated in a multi-level prison called The Pit. The protagonist Goreng, played by Ivan Massague, has implausibly volunteered to be imprisoned so he can get a degree and give up cigarettes.
The frequent, gratuitous and brutal action arises when a food-laden platform descends through the facility, pausing for two minutes at each of the 333 levels.
Despite the platform holding enough to feed everyone in the prison, selfish gluttons at the top mean those at the lowest levels are condemned to starvation or cannibalism.
Goreng, spurred on by one of the administrators of the system, decides to intervene when he finds himself transported to one of the higher floors.
He and his cellmate stand on the platform as it descends and ration out the food so everyone can have something to eat.
In perhaps the most bizarre episode, they pledge to defend a panna cotta to send back as a message to the people at the top. There is a debate about whether people can be convinced to leave enough for others or if they need to be treated with maximum aggression.
The compromise is asking nicely then promptly executing those who don’t do as asked.
All of the strategies rely on an enlightened minority defending the population of The Pit from their own selfish natures.
There are a lot of half-baked political points in The Platform. Focusing on one or two and developing them may have proven less risible.