The suspense movie Spanish director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, has been one of the most watched films in Brazil in 2020. The feature film portrays a prison system divided into levels, each level has two detainees, those on the lower levels eat the leftover food from those above. Each month, inmates are drawn to a new level and need to adapt to abundance, leftovers, or hunger.
The main criticism and / or reflection of audiovisual production is the selfishness of the human being and, when applied to political reality, the perversity of economic systems that value the accumulation of wealth and profit, but not only, also proposes criticism of systems that oppose that. The film is a portrait of inequality that privileges some while killing others.
The scenario allows for an extremely important reflection. By portraying the inequality between the levels, it allows us to draw a parallel with the disparities between classes in Brazil, more specifically, a comparison of the feature film with the book, a book by the sociologist Jesse Souza, which classifies a hierarchical, anti-democratic and unequal class structure in Brazil.
The parallel between and class structure in Brazil
First, we can relate the film to the capitalist economic model, this is “obvious”. But on the representation of economic systems, Goreng is the protagonist, a man who has an idealistic vision, who opposes the perversity and selfishness of the administration system. Further, the film contrasts the idealization of the protagonist with the reality in which the other prisoners live, whose subhuman conditions make them cold, murderous and cannibalistic.
In this respect, there is a critique of Goreng’s revolutionary idealism: no one (or almost no one) would abdicate their moments of abundance while they were favored, even if they had already starved at lower levels (the oppressed who becomes the oppressor). In this respect, the film portrays a utopia in Goreng’s revolutionary movement that, at the beginning, uses solidarity and empathy as its main tool. After all, how could they think of the other while struggling to stay alive? In fact, it is difficult.
Not only does the impact of a utopian idealization change the character, who was trying to achieve an equal distribution of food by moving the other prisoners – as well as the former administration official. When this attempt fails, its revolutionary movement starts to use violence as an instrument. In this way, the film makes a reflection / provocation on how this opposition to capitalism operates: considering that it was only attributed through authoritarianism, was it efficient?
The feature doesn’t just have a political reflection, on the contrary, there is much more, like the biblical references. As stated in the film, Goreng could be seen as a Messiah. But these references are very open to interpretation and take into account the viewer’s faith, so I will pay attention to politics.
Therefore, I use the class structure studied by Jessé, em, to make a comparison with. Jessé argues that Brazil has a class hierarchy, who is at the top is the financial market and the large business elite. Below are the politicians, “puppets” of the market, used to guide the middle class towards the bourgeois interests of the market and against the Brazilian rabble, the basis of the structure.
This hierarchy is easily seen in the film: the management of the well is the market; employees are politicians; people at higher levels are the middle class and those condemned to hunger are the scum. The difference is that, at the well, people move between levels, but in Brazilian political reality, this is rare, and most remain in their social status throughout their lives.
However, one thing is the same, when someone succeeds in moving to a higher status, he is often subject to becoming the oppressor who previously oppressed him. In the film, the best representative of this is Trimagase, by spitting on the food of those below, he becomes the oppressor, even though he has already been the oppressed. In Brazil, the police are the ones who most represent this change of roles, which despite having a large part of its employees coming from the lower classes, is one of the most oppressive in the world, mainly for blacks and the poor.
Furthermore, in the film, even Trimagase, at that moment, being in the place of the oppressor, would return to the position of oppressed. In the case of the Brazilian police too, even though it is one of the police that kills the most in the world, it is also the one that dies the most.
Trimagase tells Goreng that he is not a murderer, but someone who is afraid. This fear is the tool for maintaining the well’s management, just as fear is the tool of the elite of the Brazilian market to maintain the class structure and the rabble according to their interests.