|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 148-150
Sabornee Karmakar1, Amrita Mitra2
1 Psychology Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Institute of Psychiatry, Centre of Excellence, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
|Date of Submission||13-May-2018|
|Date of Decision||30-Jul-2018|
|Date of Acceptance||08-Oct-2018|
|Date of Web Publication||26-Jun-2019|
Ms. Amrita Mitra
Institute of Psychiatry Centre of Excellence, Kolkata, West Bengal
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Over the past few decades, movies have ventured into the area of meaningful portrayal of societal constructs and resulting consequences of overconsumption. Next Floor is a short film which aims to highlight the upcoming void owing to depletion of resources followed by a downfall in civilization. This is depicted in the movie in the form of a banquet hall with people from the Proletariat class catering to people from the Bourgeoisie class. Using the method of content analysis, various perspectives are generated centered on the theme of overconsumption and resulting degradation of civilized behavior.
Keywords: Bourgeoise, proleteriat, society
|How to cite this article:|
Karmakar S, Mitra A. Next Floor. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2019;35:148-50
About the Movie:
Director: Denis Villenevue; Starring: Jean Merchand, Mathew Handfield, Emanuel Shwartz, Sebastian Rene; Achievements: Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival, 2008.
Next Floor represents a luxurious banquet wherein eleven pampered guests participate in a ritualistic gastronomic social gathering. An unexpected sequence of events occurs which destabilizes the symphony of the gathering and raises question on abundance. The participants of the gathering are made to fall down from each floor with each downfall leading to deprivation of luxury and resources leading to exhibition of animalistic behavior by the characters of the movie.
In today's society, man is more centered toward fulfillment of his own needs. Every day, media reports of increasing violence rates in both urban and rural sectors of society are alarming. Often such acts are committed to accomplish one's own needs. It also attempts to portray the rate at which massive depletion of natural resources is being carried out to make lives of human beings more comfortable at the cost of other living species. Unequal distribution of wealth and its consequences which is very prominent in today's society is also depicted in the movie.
The method used for analysis was content analysis which here has been utilized for better understanding of spoken and visual communication. The unit of analysis used is hermeneutics to help infer the true meaning inclusive of factors such as history, culture, diversities, and also the context.
| Sociopolitical Aspect|| |
Our position in the social hierarchy has a powerful influence on almost everything in our daily lives where we live, what we wear, where we travel, dine and shop, what we drive, and what media we consume. Furthermore, whereas social class shapes consumers, “judgments and choices”, consumers' choices in turn reproduce and reinforce their class belonging., In the movie, the elite class represents the “consumer class.” The servers represent the “working class.” It represents the downfall of the “consumer class,” and with each fall, their sophistication decreases ultimately bringing them to the level of barbarism and uncivilized behavior, manifested in terms of satisfaction of the primary need of man—hunger. The consumer class represents the bourgeois class which actually relates to the upper class of society. They appear to be too concerned about wealth, possessions, and respectable behavior, for example, after the first fall, the lady is seen removing dust from the ring first, rather than her own body.
The working class reflects the irony of the society, wherein they are made to serve their masters despite other adversities. For example: with each drop in floor, the working class does not fail to carry out their duties. Security for “working class” people has more emphasis on stability and continuation of activities to earn their livelihood along with safety belongingness with a social group.
In this context, it may be highlighted that income inequalities as represented here by the “consumer class” and the “working class” often lead to a higher prevalence of mental illnesses, and as the “consumer class” keeps getting richer, rates of mental illnesses also increase which has been highlighted in the movie in terms of the behavior portrayed by the “consumer class.”
| Marxian Perspective|| |
Marx believed that all changes were caused by a series of struggles between “bourgeoisie” and the “proletariat.” The modern “bourgeoisie” society led to establishment of newer conditions of oppression and newer forms of struggle. The movie represents a conflict between the two classes. The lower classes is run by the interests of the ruling class, and hence, the proletariats continue to serve the ruling class and do not fail to execute their services to the bourgeoisie despite adversities.
Basically, the entire movie represents a vicious cycle existing in the society. Every time, they fall united, neither serving is abandoned nor is consumption, and hence, society continues along with the conflicts between the upper and lower classes, highlighting the dialectics of Marxism.
| Economic Perspective|| |
Each drop maybe considered to be a downfall in economy. With every fall, the loss of abundance is highlighted, in terms of the props and lighting effects. Ironically, 2008 was the year the recession struck. In the movie, with each fall, even the working class seems to be losing out on its job of serving their guests.
At the last floor, there is a dearth of eating resources suggesting depletion of resources due to overconsumption as at the highest level, there was presence of enormous resources of food but with each downfall, quantity of food begins to decrease.
| Evolutionary Perspective|| |
Each fall maybe considered to represent a downfall in civilization with loss of etiquette, grace, and societal charms. An expression of awe, wonder, and disgust reveals the ironical statures from where humanity, class, and social etiquette have actually evolved over the years.
| Psychological Perspective|| |
Each dropdown in the level of floor represents a further shrinking of “ego” and sinking deeper into “id.” The deeper one goes, each layer in turn makes the individual become more wild and seeking intense satisfaction of desires, which here being hunger. Basically, the “id” wants to consume. It represents the primary source of instinctual force which is often not in sync with the demands of reality. It is also interesting to note that with each fall, the style of eating also becomes barbaric indicating the predominance of instincts of id over the ego.
The female figure may represent the “super-ego,” and the resistance to enter into the world of id is clearly manifested in her mannerisms and expressions, at the end; however, she gives into what others are doing. The domain of social learning (reference) is also highlighted, for example: the man with the beard takes the first morsel and his onlooker follows. The interaction between guests entails an interesting phenomenon, at the highest level; there exists a sense of perceived self-sufficiency, but with every downfall, interaction begins to take place, highlighting the need for solace at times of distress.
Each downfall in the movie maybe considered to represent the stages of hell and maybe interpreted as the collective unconsciousness in which is more populated by instincts and archetypes. In Jungian psychology, “hell” is believed to represent the place where “the shadow” resides. This “shadow” comprises the hidden, repressed, and the most guilt laden side of personality of human beings and also serves as a realm of our animal ancestors. This may provide an insight as to why after every downfall more animal-like behavior is manifested by the “consumer class.”
| Hermeneutics-Metaphor|| |
The whole movie represents a metaphor of consumption. Each drop indicates the price of overconsumption, leading to depletion of resources, rather the irony as well as the power of “hunger” leading to downfall of man, how man becomes his own enemy. The chandelier falling highlights how the elite class is always the focus of societal representation.
The presence of dust may indicate the remnants of the luxuries of the previous above floor. With every fall, the amount of dust gathered also increases. Dust also signifies “mourning” as mentioned in religious texts. With very fall, the absence of the mourner in this case may have been highlighted by the presence of dust itself.
| Filmographic Analysis|| |
The movie begins and ends with a gaze, representing a form of narrative closure. The iconic “gaze” may represent the voyeur, the onlooker, or simply a spectator. The “gaze” is aimed to stir up the comfort zone of the onlookers. With every fall, the light shades become darker and darker, representing the evil sides of manhood.
The man with the tube signifies the ultimatum of consumption; he plays a passive role signifying what may be the outcome of overconsumption; and he highlights the “leftover” of society. For example: the animal dishes are reduced to skeletons, and he signifies that in manhood.
Similar themes have also been depicted in earlier movies, namely, La Grande Bouffe (1973), Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), or Fatso (1980). However, the strong association between excessive consumerism and its ill-effects has been portrayed very diligently in this particular movie.
Thereby, it may be said that the makers of the movie have tried to indicate the various factors which operate at a societal level but are often hidden from the conscious being who at the end is an integral part of the society and cannot be isolated from it. It also indicates how despite newer developments basic societal principles still operate which actually hinder the overall development of humankind as a whole. Excessive and unnecessary consumerism leading to exhaustion and near obliteration of species diversity and the resulting deterioration in civilized behavior is also an issue which needs to be pondered upon. In today's world, acquisition is a major desire, and the overall outcome of this desire is mostly left neglected.
We would like to acknowledge the support of Dr. Asijit Datta.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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