The Platform

With the current situation going on in our world  I have been left with a hefty amount of free time. Between small projects here and there I have become a very avid watcher of Netflix. I recently watched a very enticing movie that seemed to leave an impression on me. This was not due to its graphic nature but by the message, it was intending to share with its audience.

The platform is a Spanish movie directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutiana and starring Ivan Massagué, as our main protagonist.  The premise of the movie is essential that there is a prison. However, this is not a conventional prison-like we have in our modern society. Instead, it is a vertical prison consisting of various floors. Each floor has two of the prisoners that must live together with their floor being switched once a month. This may seem quite normal however it is far from that. The real symbolism of the movie is the way the prisoners are fed. A platform is lowered every day to stop at each floor for an allotted time to eat. It begins at the top and goes to the bottom the problem is however that there is only a certain amount of food to be shared among hundreds of levels. This fuels the entire symbolism of the movie and holds a great message. Throughout the movie, we follow the experiences of our main character, Goreng, who has willingly entered the facility to earn his diploma. throughout his sentence, we see him witness and participate in gruesome acts of violence due to his immense hunger and desperation.  Although we are seeing all of his heinous acts we as an audience can’t help but feel a sense of sadness throughout the movie for this man as he slowly loses who he once was. Although he commits some irremediable acts he also demonstrates a message at the end of the movie to the creators of this prison that seem to make us feel as though he found himself again.

So what does this all mean? As I mentioned earlier this movie all a message and is full of symbolism. The levels are used to symbolize classes of people throughout our society. The top is the wealthy and the bottom being the poor and the food is used to represent our personal needs and how if we all only took what we needed there would be enough for everyone. This brings to what the prisoners truly represent and that would be greed. The top levels take more than they need and that means that as the platform lowers there is not enough food to sustain the entire prison until it reaches a point of there being none left. This leads the poor souls on the lower level hungry and drives them to commit the heinous acts out of fear and desperation. It makes us as audience question how this is supposed to help these convicts to understand what they have done is wrong, and makes us face the reality that they really are just being tormented instead of helped.  All they are being instilled with is a sense of greed and personal survival which is also a reflection of our current prison system and its lack of rehabilitation techniques. However, this is just a sub-message. The main metaphor represents capitalism. It represents this by making the higher levels have not only an advantage but also by making them take more than there share and leaving the lower levels with nothing when in reality there is more than enough for everyone.  Overall this movie is an allegory for capitalism in our society and uses the medium of film and physiological disturbance to narrate this message. 

As I had previously mentioned this is a Spanish film therefore it is in subtitles all throughout the movie. You would think that this would somewhat take away from the overall message, however it does the exact opposite. Personally, I feel as though the subtitles connect us. How you may ask? Well, when you look at it as a social problem you can see that not only we experience the hardships of capitalism but so does Spain, Portugal and every other nation thus connecting us all as a world through these issues. I also do have a bit of personal bias because I really enjoy Spain’s more psychologically-based movies and seem to gravitate towards them. 

So what about the ending? I am not going to tell you the ending as I feel it takes away from the overall experience if you know how it plays out. I think that the ending is much more impactful when experienced first hand and I would fully recommend this film. Although there is a lot of gorey and disturbing scenes I think that the movie did a good job of incorporating them for storytelling value rather than pure shock value. Overall I feel that this movie did a very good job of subtly portraying a social and economic issue in our modern society all while providing an entertaining film with some very talented actors. 

The Enigma of Amigara Fault

I recently read a short story written by a Japanese author known as Junji Ito called, The Enigma of Amigara Fault. This story followed the mysterious journey of a man named Owaki and a woman named Yoshida. The two meet at a mountain range that has recently been split in two by an earthquake that struck Japan. The real mystery, however, is that within the middle of the mountain there are holes in the shape of people. These holes have begun drawing people to them by some unknown compelling force, which is the main driver of the element of horror. This story has a lot of ways it could be interpreted and that really intrigued me from the beginning. I think that there is a lot to unpack with not only this story but the way in which this author perceives and interprets horror throughout all of his other pieces of writing and literature.

I really thought that this story was very powerful and brought the horror genre a fresh new take. Junji Ito as an author uses a lot of elements that most do not. He does this by utilizing a fear that we all have….. the fear of the unknown. As H.P Lovecraft once stated, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”, and Ito definitely uses this fear to his advantage. By not explaining the reasons for these human shapes holes or the people’s motivation towards them it leaves a lot of it to the imagination and allows a different type of fear and suspense to envelop the readers. He also uses a type of plot development we don’t usually see as he focuses more so on building a sense of fear and questioning of the mysterious craters rather than building a sense of connection with the characters. This may seem like it would ruin the story however, it really adds to it as we are less focused on our characters and more so on the mystery surrounding them. Also, the way he never actually explains the reasons for people being compelled to enter the fault allows us as readers to try and draw our own conclusions for it. Is it paradise, completion? We will never know the true reasoning and this is what makes it such a powerful piece of literature. Although we are shown the fate of those who entered the fault we will never truly know why they wanted to enter it in the first place which is where the true psychological horror lies

Another thing I would like to discuss this story if it’s the use of symbolism. I feel like this story was very well done and had many amazing elements to it. With that, I can go into more detail about its use of symbolism. Although it is not blatantly stated this story essentially symbolizes the act of compulsion. We are shown throughout the story all the citizens unexplainable urge you to enter the fault. This is compulsion, the fact that the holes were “made for them” makes them want to enter even though they know that it will result in their demise. Psychologists describe this type of compulsion as the “death drive” and is essentially the drive to destroy oneself despite the known consequences. This really drives the physiological horror of the story as it is by their free will that they enter these holes with the knowledge of there fate, that being inevitable death. And when you begin to look further you also see that every character throughout the story was in some type of emotional distress when they entered their hole. Such as Owaki’s pain over losing his friend and Yoshida’s immense loneliness. This hints that the fault itself was preying on people who were in a sense of emotional turmoil and using it to draw them to their almost inevitable demise. This also brings up the question of the origin of the fault. As this question is never we are left with the notion of helplessness as if we are not in control of our fate. This notion is one that Ito uses very commonly and utilizes to give his readers a sense of distress and fear that is carried well after the pages are finished.

When I think horror as a genre I don’t think of jump scares or spooky masks as those are just cliques. I think that true horror is storytelling that is carried with us and can not only strike you with fear but also with unease. True fear is not that of jumps but of a deeper more animal instinct. The fear of the unknown is a primitive and vital fear for out human safety, and when you use this to captivate and alarm an audience it affects down to the core and plays with their emotions more than any jump scare ever could. This is why I feel like Junji Ito’s stories are so effective. It is not what we know that alarms us, it is what we can’t explain.

With that, I believe that the works of Ito are beautifully crated from their storytelling to their illustrations. I personally am not a very avid reader of the manga literature technique. However, this author has opened me up to an entire world of writing I wasn’t even aware of. I am a fan of the horror genre but particularly the phycological subgenre and think that the mixture of pictures with the story really help to drive the overall fear and suspense. Overall I feel as though this author always seems to recognized for his deeply affecting storylines and beautifully constructed imagery and uses this to really mess with his readers psyche and emotions. Which is really, at its core, what horror is intended to do.