The platform is a metaphor for the system that we are in. Every scene could be in analysed within the perspective of economics, political, or social system. As for economic system, this movie as a criticism of capitalism and how the system impacts different social classes in terms of how we view and spend on basic necessities. In the movie, Level 0 shows where there is freedom and food being processed for the ones below to eat. Level 0 is a metaphor for those who actively produce goods and services for the community and for the different social classes to spend. This refers to businessmen who apply the principles of capitalism and gaining wealth through the free market system. As for the ones who are at the lower levels of the platform, the lower the levels, the less food they can eat. This shows that the lower you are positioned in the social class, the less money you can spend even on basic necessities. This movie also shows how those at the higher up (the wealthy) have the potential to take what they have for granted and waste basic necessities.
There was a scene where a character on level 4 defecated the character on level 5 (Baharat) when he was trying to go up to level 4. The only thing he brought with him was a rope which shows his determination to climb up the social system. Since there is a thing such as social mobility, he was aware that one of the ways is to work hard, as it is the main and simplified message of the capitalist economic system. The people on level 4 could symbolize politicians and the capitalists. Politicians, in a less democratic political system (not only in the type of political system but also in practice) have the potential to cheat their way through to maintain their elite status and position. Capitalists, without government intervention and regulation, have the potential to cheat on the consumers. This act of cheating could be represented by the person on level four when he invited and helped Baharat but then defecated on him when he had almost reached the top. This scene literally embodies the expression ‘Those at the higher-ups shit on us’ . This shows that when we try to go up to the top, there will always be certain types of people or system (I thought of affirmative action in Malaysia as an example) that would deter us from climbing up the social ladder despite to have already worked hard for it.
Amidst the chaos that’s been going on, there are intellectuals and idealists who are trying to reform the platform and how people behave. I would see the main character Goreng as the intellectual and Imoguiri as the idealist. Although one can have the qualities of both but I think the movie allows us to see how sometimes idealists are not grounded in reality when calling for reform and intellectuals have their idealistic and realistic outlook combined and whichever is warranted in a particular situation. Imoguiri kept on saying to those below her level to ration the food and only consume what they need so that there will be more for those below. However, those below her wouldn’t listen. She thought that by employing a softer approach and repeating the same thing over and over, it would have an immediate impact to those below her level. Whereas for Goreng, as idealistic he may seem at certain parts of the movie, in this scene he was fairly realistic of how people react to instructions. His way was strict and firm, even to the point of insult because in reality, even when we’ve politely given instructions, some would just ignore them. I see Goreng as an intellectual purely by his choice of item to bring into the cell which was a novel called ‘Don Quixote’ in which the theme also revolves around social inequality. At times it takes coercion to implement reforms or getting people to comply to instruction such as the case for containing COVID-19. Through the Malaysian Prime Minister and King’s live telecast, Malaysians were told to stay at home but some wouldn’t comply. Malaysian even took to social media to persuade other people to do so. However, for the first few days, people wouldn’t still comply. So, the government immediately employed the army and police force so that Malaysians wouldn’t simply go around and gather in big groups. The government even imposed a threat that whoever doesn’t comply to the Movement Control Order, they could be fined or sentenced to jail. As of this writing (day 9 of MCO), news reports stated that 95% of Malaysian citizens are complying to it already. Therefore, sometimes coercion is necessary instead of persuasion or dialogue.
Every part of the movie can be interpreted according to real life situation in any country and in any context (some are relating this movie to the COVID-19 panic buying situation prior to lockdown). I personally find this movie thought-provoking and it should be a material used to discuss about the impact of different social, political, and economic system. Although it might seem that it is a socialist propaganda, we have to acknowledge that capitalism does have its dark side albeit it currently being the most viable system and sustainable economic system in the world. As for viewer reception of this movie, I think for those who don’t have a clue what message that it is trying to deliver, I personally think that it’s due to having a lack of knowledge of how our society works and not being able to view the movie metaphorically.