A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Platform is a 2019 horror sci-fi movie in which a man lives inside a vertical prison where a giant spread of food is lowered each day, one floor at a time, until eaten. There are many disturbing scenes, including moments of attempted cannibalism, actual cannibalism, a pet dog found disemboweled and half-eaten, a woman defecating into the face of a man trying to climb up to her floor, a man urinating on people on the lower levels of the prison, attempted rape, violent stabbing deaths, and suicide by hanging or jumping off the platform through the center of the building. Regular use of profanity, including "f--k," and a racial slur used against an Asian woman. Brief nonsexual nudity -- a woman takes her top off to reveal her mastectomy scars, male buttocks. Cigarette smoking, wine drinking.
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What's the story?
In THE PLATFORM, Goreng (Ivan Massague) agrees to serve a six-month sentence inside a "Vertical Self-Management Center" in exchange for a diploma. From his first floormate, Trimigasi, Goreng learns that the food in this institution is served via a large concrete platform that floats down one floor at a time for a short period of time. The prisoners can only eat what's left on the platform while the platform is there; if they try to keep food after the platform leaves, the temperature of the prisoner's floor becomes painfully hot or cold. Each prisoner is allowed to bring in one item from the outside; Goreng has brought in a copy of Don Quixote, and Trimigasi has brought in a self-sharpening knife he saw on an infomercial. Each month, the prisoners are randomly reassigned to a new floor, and while Goreng is able to eat while on the 48th floor, he finds himself tied up when reassigned to the 171st floor, as Trimigasi intends to use his knife to eat flesh from Goreng's body. After escaping this traumatic experience, Goreng is reassigned to new floormates -- first to a woman who seeks to begin a revolution from within by finding ways to more equitably share the food, and then a man who encourages Goreng to send a message to where the food is prepared on the highest floor by forcing a rationing of the food to those below them. As the floor numbers below continue to reach higher numbers -- higher than the number of levels Goreng had estimated -- Goreng, with the assistance of visions from his previous floormates, thinks he has found a way to send a message to those on the top floor with the power to change this barbaric system.
Is it any good?
This movie is the textbook definition of the term "Kafkaesque." Through a nightmarish reality and a system controlled by an unseen "Administration" whose members don't seem to fully comprehend the horrors of the system they've created, The Platform is an allegory about the economic disparities and unequal access to food in our own world, and the filmmakers aren't hesitant in applying shocking imagery to drive these points home. Scenes of characters fighting other characters by defecating on their faces, cannibalism and attempted cannibalism, and disemboweled and partially-eaten pet dogs are right up there with brutally-memorable scenes from Hostel, the second season of Fortitude, Salo, and The 120 Days of Sodom.
While the execution and presentation are undeniably innovative, what's debatable is whether or not the filmmakers needed to go to these extremes to make such a simple point. Some of the shocking moments start to feel belabored as the movie goes on. Like the classic Sinclair Lewis novel The Jungle, it's easy to envision the larger message of economic inequality and revolt getting lost in the shocking individual moments of the story. None of these moments necessarily ruin the overall quality of the film, but it's hard to determine if the message will carry through because of or in spite of The Platform's memorably horrific moments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about allegories. How is The Platform an example of an allegorical story -- one that uses story to communicate an idea or insight into our world and society?
Were the shocking moments of violence and degradation necessary to tell the story and communicate the overall idea, or did these moments come across as unnecessarily extreme?
What idea, ideals, or belief systems do you think the different characters represented? How do these characters help to communicate the movie's overall message?
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