The Platform Ending Explained: Are You Going To Eat That?

Netflix's "The Platform," directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, is a high-concept, single-location thriller with gross-out elements, yet it also manages to be a thought-provoking inquiry into the nature of social hierarchies, consumerism, and altruism. With a Spanish-language script by David Desola and Pedro Rivero based on Desola's story, "The Platform" stars Iván Massagué as Goreng, a man who wakes on Level 48 of a towering, prison-like facility where a platform floats hundreds of floors, offering the two occupants on each one two minutes to gorge themselves on food before it moves down to the next level.

They're in El hoyo, which translates as "the Hole" or "the Pit," and like the doughnut hole in "Knives Out," there's a hole within this Hole, through which the platform descends. Level 0 is where the kitchen preparations occur, with chefs laying out a sumptuous banquet. However, the lower the platform goes, the less food there is leftover, and the more people are driven to cannibalistic savagery, feeding on their cellmates to sustain themselves for a month before the Administration moves them to a different random level. They never know whether it will be higher or lower than their current level.

Goreng's first cellmate is Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor), a knife-wielding old man with a predilection for the word obvio (obviously meaning "obviously"), who helps Goreng acclimate to life in the Pit. As Trimagasi explains, a person can go without food for 30 days, but the problem is when they get assigned to two lower levels consecutively.

"The Platform" originated as a theater script that the writers then retooled for the screen, so much of it relies on dialogue. If you're watching it with subtitles, it would be easy to miss something as the words fly by. The film's ending also relies on a three-act buildup of allegory, so if you're confused about why exactly "the panna cotta is the message" and things like that, grab a seat aboard our own moving platform as we descend from section to section here and try to make sense of this dystopian nightmare.

'After I bought it, I watched the next advertisement'

"The Platform" has some quasi-religious overtones to it. More than once, characters ask each other, "Do you believe in God?" Goreng himself is at times characterized as a Christ figure, with other inmates referring to him as "Savior" and the "Messiah of S***." Unlike most of them, Goreng freely volunteered to be placed in the Pit. He wanted to quit smoking, read "Don Quixote," and get an accredited diploma.

Upon learning the facility's food distribution scheme, Goreng immediately thinks about the welfare of those below him and wants to rally the other levels into rationing equal portions for everyone. Trimagasi accuses him of being a communist. In the same way that Don Quixote had his pragmatic sidekick, Sancho Panza, there to serve as a check against his unfettered idealism, Goreng's cellmates each act as foils whose personalities and flaws contrast with his own and bring the stages of his character development into relief.

Trimagasi is utterly self-interested. The reason he's in the Pit is that he threw his TV out the window without a care for who it might land on. It killed an innocent bystander, but he didn't exactly learn any lessons, because in the Pit, he has a flagrant disregard for those below him. He will even go so far as to spit or urinate in their food out of pure spite, all while cursing the "bastards" above him.

Trimagasi seems to recognize how hollow his existence is: it's what led him to do some home shopping and buy a self-sharpening knife called the Samurai-Max. Yet that only leaves him caught in a consumerist, capitalist web, where the next big thing, the Samurai-Plus, comes straight at him in similar packaging. His statement, "After I bought it, I watched the next advertisement," could just as easily apply to a moviegoer watching a trailer for the next superhero film during the post-credits of one that grossed millions upon billions of dollars.

'A vertical self-management center'

Trimagasi calls the Pit "a vertical self-management center" (as opposed to a horizontal one, like the train in "Snowpiercer"). He tells Goreng, "The food only belongs to us when the platform is on our level." Unfortunately, when they're demoted to Level 171, all bets are off and "it's better to eat than be eaten." Trimagasi ties Goreng to his bed and plans to purge him of bodily impurities like a snail (he even calls him "my little snail"), before feasting on strips of his flesh.

This again casts Goreng as a Christ figure. The movie hammers this home later by quoting several lines of scripture where Jesus tells his disciples to eat his flesh. Yet biblical comparisons only go so far in "The Platform." After Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay), a feral woman looking for her child, rides in on the platform and frees him, we soon see Goreng himself resort to barbarism, brutally stabbing and murdering Trimagasi before eating from his remains. His cellmate thereby becomes a part of his spiritual body, someone who remains with him in hallucinations, but it happens in a decidedly un-Christ-like manner.

Goreng's next cellmate, up on Level 33, is Imoguiri (Antonia San Juan), the very administrator who did his entrance interview for the Pit. She has also volunteered for it, and she believes that eventually something has to happen "that fosters a spontaneous sense of solidarity" among its warring classes.

Like Goreng, Imoguiri wants to ration the food, so she continually goes about preparing two portions for the people below her, hoping they will do the same for the people below them. "If everyone ate only what they needed, the food would reach the lowest levels," she opines. "We have a responsibility to those less fortunate than us."

Goreng realizes that her earnest pleadings, which echo his own previous naiveté, are doing no good, and we see how he has changed. He is now willing to force altruism on others, and threatens to defecate in the food if the people below them do not abide by Imoguiri's plan. The good-intentioned Goreng has developed a more tyrannical edge, but it only flows one way: down. "I can't s*** upwards," he says.

'Go down, to go up'

Imoguiri, who has cancer and who believed there were only 200 levels in the Pit, hangs herself after she and Goreng are sent to Level 202. She specifically does this, rather than hurl herself down through the hole, so that Goreng will be able to survive on her remains.

Moving to Level 6, Goreng's third and final cellmate, Baharat (Emilio Buale Coka), is a man "on fire" with a rope and dreams of escape. He faces resistance in the form of racism and people who would sooner crap in his face (all too literally) than allow him any upward mobility. He and Goreng will soon discover that the unholy Pit has a holy 333 levels, which means they are now in the upper percentile, part of the 1% (or 1.78%), with the 99% situated below them. Even this close to the top, however, "there'll always be some bastard who won't let you get past."

Anyone who's ever hit a glass ceiling — or hole in the floor — in their own career advancement might be able to relate to Baharat's plight. Picking through "the people above's leftovers," is not something that is limited to the middle class or one walk of life. You can even see it here online. The Internet, too, is a kind of platform, where a cannibalization of content occurs, with smaller sites feeding on the scraps of bigger ones.

Goreng and Baharat devise a plan to ride the platform down and "hand out food at every level, just enough to survive." As Goreng puts it, they will "go down, to go up." He reasons that the first 50 levels eat every day, so they should start handing out food only from Level 51 on downward. A wise elder, Sr. Brambang (Eric L. Goode), convinces them that as they are defending the food, they need to also try and win people over to their cause. "If you can't," he says, "then hit them hard. But dialogue must come first."

Sr. Brambang also puts forth the idea that Goreng and Baharat should send a message to the Administration with a "a delicious, perfectly presented" luxury dish "that gets backs to Level 0 untouched." Enter the panna cotta, the symbol of resistance in the food prison.

'The message requires no bearer'

"You must preserve the panna cotta as if your life depended on it," Sr. Brambang tells them. "The panna cotta is the message."

"The Platform" uses food, one of the basic necessities of life, as a signifier for economic inequality. Though it may, at first, seem against capitalism and in favor of democratic socialism, the film ultimately does not offer a cut-and-dry critique of one political philosophy or the other. These are intangible concepts, anyway. "The Platform" instead puts responsibility on the individual while also showing the dangers of imposing one's will on others in the name of change.

In their zeal to deliver the message and ensure a "fair distribution of wealth" (as Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia called it in Cineuropa), Goreng and Baharat wind up having to fight off and slaughter some of the same people they're ostensibly trying to aid. One of the first men they encounter, someone who helped Baharat in the past, points out to Goreng, the supposed Christ figure, that "a Messiah would multiply the fishes and loaves, not take them from our mouths."

Their descent grows bloodier, leaving them wounded as they arrive on Level 333, where they find a child, Miharu's daughter, hiding under the bed. They had planned to send the panna cotta back up, but the child is hungry, so they take pity on her and let her eat. She becomes the message: an innocent who was able to survive on the lowest level due to the kindness of others.

Though he was quick to say that he "wanted it to be open to interpretation," Gaztelu-Urrutia himself also weighed in as director on the ending of "The Platform." 

Food for thought

Speaking to Digital Spy, Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia reiterated that, in "The Platform," Trimagasi and Imoguiri could be seen to "represent selfishness and altruism," respectively. The filmmaker further addressed how the child serves as the final message in place of the panna cotta, suggesting that Goreng might already be dead, and that the success or failure of his mission was left uncertain by design. As he put it:

"To me, that lowest level doesn't exist. Goreng is dead before he arrives, and that's just his interpretation of what he felt he had to do. Ultimately I wanted it to be open to interpretation, whether the plan worked and the higher-ups even care about the people in the pit. We actually did film a different ending of the girl arriving at the first level, but we took it out of the movie. I'll leave what happens to your imagination."

Gaztelu-Urrutia's artistic intent for "The Platform" gives the viewer leeway to form their own judgments and come away with their own reading of the film. At the very least, it's a movie that — if you'll forgive the pun — leaves the audience with some food for thought.

For his part, Gorreng makes his descent into darkness at the end of "The Platform" with the knowledge that "the wealthy man who is not generous will be a miserly beggar." He is perhaps too tainted by the evils of the Pit to go any further, so his only hope lies in this girl, Miharu's daughter, who represents the next generation, a message that, again, "requires no bearer." Gorreng may not live to see the promised land, and there is no guarantee that the girl's survival and ascent will bring about change, but he has effectively paid it forward, and that is all any of us can ever hope to do.