Often, the fantastic tends to portray the reality in subjective ways, posing scenarios so far from the everyday that they are a malleable canvas to draw alternative realities, in which you can project the subversion of real world ideas, either around social aspects of the present, or more archetypal philosophical-economic theories. An example, '1984’, It resembles a historical fascist society, but amplified by the futuristic tone.
The example of a completely didactic Marxism is ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013) and, in general, the latest works of Bong Joon-ho, who try to expose the miseries of the class struggle in a unidirectional way and through infantilized thesis to eliminate the aura of replication of the viewer, emasculating the speech until leaving its reduced metaphor to a song of deed in which the rich with very bad and the poor always victims, without leaving communication channels between the different strata, limiting the reflection beyond what you know and the viewer thinks.
The last Toronto festival, a small Spanish film, 'The Hole', emerged with very positive international reviews, winning the section's audience award Midnight Madness. After passing through Sitges 2019 he would pick up among others best film award coinciding with the same critical award. What does this little science fiction work that is attracting so much attention? Its premise is simple and, as its director says, Bilbao Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia "You can count on a couple of lines in a bar."
Basically, in a dystopian future, inmates of a prison of hundreds of floors dug in the ground expect that a feast of daily food descends through a hole Central to your level. And it is better not to tell much more. What can be said is that the system itself proposes an experiment that it is at the same time outside and inside the screen. That is to say, the first difference of its premise with other “political” science fiction works is that it works like a terrarium where you put some characters and the situation will write the movie alone.
While the first minutes are a exposure of the rules, the way in which the information is dispensed is progressive, we learn everything from the point of view of the protagonist. As in ‘Cube’ (1997), there is only one scenario, although in that one the social element was practically a small footnote. Natali's was precisely about discovering what the cube was and watching the protagonists try to get out of there. In 'The hole’We came to know more clearly the purpose of that prison.
"The message", the gruesome and the obvious
The interesting thing about the Spanish film is that while the mysteries unfold and the protagonist's dilemma focuses on how to get out, an inevitable decantation of a social subtext What is it so present to the viewer as for the protagonists themselves. Criticisms of ‘The hole’They have moved mainly in the direction of pointing out their obvious — funny term talking about this movie — political discourse (sic) claiming that their metaphor of stratifying classes physically is very easy.
The way to approach the experiment he poses ‘The hole’As an allegory or parable is a valid angle, but lazy when entering the game you propose Gaztelu-Urrutia. An obtuse and senseless humor look confuse cinema "with message" and satire. The satirical cinema takes advantage of the outrage towards a situation, what the burden of irony, seeking the assent of the public, to whom it is easy to empathize with the criticism raised. If he who sees the movie is also considered, in some way, "victim" of the situation he sees on the screen, he positions himself with irreverence.
‘The hole’Is a tremendously scathing movie, but he’s aware that his simple approach causes a conscious reflection, and never gives more "political" rope than the spectator himself can guess by himself, recognizing what is happening to have lived. It's crisis cinema, it's Very Spanish cinema, because it talks about us, and the current situation only removes barriers and recognizes in a more tangible way what we see on the screen. Therefore we know what the top floor will do, so we can think what we would do.
Nihilistic look at the man
The film of Gaztelu-Urrutia He does not preach, exposes questions and directs them vertically as a graphic way of recognizing him. But his "class" comment moves far away from political theory that poses. According to the director himself to The newspaper “The human being is, in my opinion, a miserable species. The film talks about fighting what we are by birth: a selfishness ball that cries and cries and asks and asks" That is, like other fantastic filmmakers like George Romero, Urrutia talks about our animal condition insatiable / insurmountable.
The approaches can be applied to capitalist logic or to a culture of bacteria that grow exponentially until they finish their resources and die. It is not a "class struggle" moving like 'Snowpiercer', to represent an increasingly segregated society. The conscious, tremendously intelligent key of the script is that in 'The hole'One day you are on the 3rd floor with the table full of food and another at 230 you have to kill to eat. It is not a film "against" the upper class and the few that exploit a large majority.
The film goes beyond, raising the questions that lead to that state that we live in the real world, the selfishness that is from the one above who has experienced the most famine and therefore feels that he has the right to be as miserable as he who does not think in those who have less. Using overwhelming logic, the script raises irresolvable assumptions and let the characters try to find the key to breaking a chain that has no solution. Maybe that's why the outcome can only be anti-static and enigmatic.
Like ‘El Bar’ (2017) by Álex de la Iglesia, ‘The hole’Is based on the most petty Spanish character, of people we recognize on the screen because we are sure that this would happen if this were raised in a block of neighbors. To tie it up completely Gaztelu-Urrutia it locates a volume of ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ in the plot, an election that for the protagonist has logic for being an object that will provide him with many hours of entertainment, but that when the time comes will bring to light an appointment that give the hint of intentions of the movie.
Cervantes's text speaks of rich and poor and of the eternal conflict that already it was more than four hundred years ago in Spain. A detail that seems casual, but that precisely marks an abysmal distance, so great that it speaks of man's inability to change. And all this within a movie that at the beginning, and in the background, is still a product of low profile, festival and midnight session that he doesn't become a scholar with his status as a political film and not even a hair is cut with blood.
Solidarity, with blood enters
Is ultraviolent, wild and sometimes even verbenera, despite the fact that its bitterness and, let's say it clear, depressing, end up imposing act after act. There are funny characters, which can be transformed into something extremely dark, situations of scary, scary and even comedy of the absurd Beckettian. In 'The hole’Fits the heritage of herencia torture pornCaptive'(Captivity, 2007) and ‘Saw’ (2004), the stomach provocation of ‘La gran comilona’ (La grande bouffe, 1973) and outbursts of action typical of Korean cinema.
Joining movies like the ones mentioned, ‘Hellevator’(2004),‘Battle Royale’(2000) or the short one‘Next floor’(2008) de Villeneuve, state that Gaztelu-Urrutia He has not done anything tremendously original, but the modesty of the proposal – although the production and effects are excellent – makes his formula of social ideas sprout from an iconoclastic and figurative exhibition, which is so crystalline that it has no "hidden message" Let it be deciphered. What you see is what you know happens, The really subversive thing about ‘The hole’ is that it doesn’t just point the finger up.