The film’s Messiah, Goreng.
The central metaphor of The Platform mirrors the capitalistic conundrum in which the modern world has entangled itself, but the ending of the film is open to interpretation.
What does the child represent, exactly?
Through its metaphor, the film argues that there is more than enough money, food and resources to go around, but overconsumption inevitably leads to inequality, and the wealthy are not inclined (or incentivized) to share.
The film perfectly parallels the trap society has sprung upon itself, but the metaphor is so fitting, that the filmmakers struggled to reach a conclusion – if there was a solution elegant enough to convey through a simple story, then we’d have figured it out by now, surely.
The problem is the structure of power, as those at the top are unreachable; one of the most powerful moments of the film is when Baharat finds himself at level 6, and using his rope, hopes to ascend to the top of the nightmarish tower.
But this plan relies on the kindness of strangers, and thus, is instantly shattered by the hateful racists dwelling above – all it takes is one intolerant individual to break the chain of cooperation. As soon as the couple ask Baharat which God he worships, it’s devastatingly clear what their intentions are.
Help from above cannot be relied upon, meaning the only power Goreng holds is tyrannical. He can force the prisoners dwelling below him to cooperate, sure, but then what? Threats are just another form of oppression, and can only take Goreng so far.
Goreng and Baharat’s plan to deliver a message, through the untouched panna cotta, is to communicate the fact that the tyrannical structure has not broken the human spirit. At least, not fully. But their descent to the bottom is marred by extreme violence; paradoxically, the pair cannot possibly protect the panna cotta without viciously fighting off the prisoners who refuse to cooperate.
To some degree, the two embrace the dog-eat-dog attitude that runs through the prison, becoming tainted by their sacred mission. For survival’s sake, they’ve already engaged in murder and cannibalism – that’s why the purity represented by the child is so important.
It’s unclear how and why the child is down there – there isn’t supposed to be anyone under 16 in the facility. Not officially, anyway. But the fact that she is alive and unharmed surely means that her mother, Miharu, has been successfully protecting her.
This isn’t fully explained in the film, but it seems that the mother’s repeated descent on the platform wasn’t an attempt to find her daughter, but to bring food to the bottom floor and ensure she remained there, alone and unharmed.
A mother’s love, her selflessness and dedication, ensured the survival of her daughter. Indeed, the little girl appears healthy, even untraumatized. She represents the human spirit, unbroken, despite the overwhelming, dehumanizing influence of the system.
In the end, however, Goreng cannot ascend with her, having been corrupted by his time in the facility, but it’s unclear what will actually happen when the girl reaches the top. On a literal level, her ascent is unlikely to change anything. But metaphorically speaking, the girl is the future, and likely the only hope humanity has left.
The girl is both a symbol of humanity’s resilience through tyranny, and an indication that change can only come from the youth.
Adults, like Goreng, have been living in the system for too long, and have been shaped by its injustices; they can fight for a better future, but have been hopelessly corrupted in the process.
Those at the top aren’t about to give up their excesses willingly, and the bottom-dwellers are too busy surviving to consider the greater good – protecting children from the worst the world has to offer might be our only path forward.
At least, that’s my take. What’s yours? Let me know on Twitter.