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Heart of Glass (1976)
"Herz aus Glas" (original title)

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The foreman of a small village glassworks dies without revealing the secret to the famous "Ruby Glass".


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Title: Heart of Glass (1976)

Heart of Glass (1976) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Credited cast:
Josef Bierbichler ...
Stefan Güttler ...
Clemens Scheitz ...
Sonja Skiba ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Wolf Albrecht
Thomas Binkley
Janos Fischer
Wilhelm Friedrich
Edith Gratz
Alois Hruschka
Egmont Hugel
Amad Ibn Ghassem Nadij
Sterling Jones
Karl Kaufmann
Brunhilde Klöckner


A small village is renowned for its "Ruby Glass" glass blowing works. When the foreman of the works dies suddenly without revealing the secret of the Ruby Glass, the town slides into a deep depression, and the owner of the glassworks becomes obssessed with the lost secret. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 December 1976 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Heart of Glass  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The main character "Hias" is based on the legendary Bavarian prophet Mühlhiasl. See more »


Referenced in The Runestone (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

a muddled merging of poetry and documentary; a film that will hit, miss, or both, for its audience
21 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Heart of Glass is a period piece, not merely because of its probable 19th century time period, but because of when it was filmed, what footage was used, the music, the "acting" (appropriate in quotes), and the experimental attitude. Werner Herzog has always been one of the most unconventional and challenging of filmmakers- of himself and for his audience- but in this case his challenge almost becomes more of a gimmick. I wonder if my reaction to these non-professionals Herzog has here would be any different if I was not aware before that all of the actors were hypnotized, save for Hias (who, to be honest, could've fooled me with how his 'performance' goes). Maybe not by much; like Jean-Luc Godard, whom Herzog once said is like intellectual counterfeit money, Herzog used his cast as much as gets them to be their unnatural selves by having them almost as mouthpieces to say his dialog, more leaning to being stylized poetry, as much as their sort of physical presence being controlled to the note. Also like Godard, he attempts to combine this with a technique in composition that merges documentary with a sensibility that is as well closer to a form of poetic, personal expression. Unfortunately like Godard (I mean later Godard though), it doesn't really fly.

It may for some, and in fact it's up there on lists of Herzog fans as one of the best. But the problem is that Herzog is so wrapped up in how everything should try to be in evocation and, in his own usually warped way, provocation, that its a style that can shut out the viewer from what should be a rewardingly hypnotic experience. But even if there was no knowledge of the hypnosis of the cast, things still feel off; at times I almost felt like I was watching some demented hippie filmmaker from the period waxing and waning in 19th century garb about random intonations in nature or what the 'ruby glass' has in significance, with stares and glazed looks and demented laughter. It's not un-merited for a man of such immense talent and artistry of Herzogs's to experiment and push the envelope of how a story can be told and how to get characters on screen in a way that is totally his own. The problem though, which is usually not the case particularly with his prime work in the 1970s, is to experiment without much of a real story to work with, or for that matter any characters to really give a s*** about. The main character, Hias (Bierbichler), is the one who gets the town into its sort of madness, but I didn't even really get this sense until more than halfway into the film. By the end, even as Herzog's reached something of a quasi-resolution with the factory burning down, his message (which does lie somewhere in the film) about the beauty and dangers of a 'cult' mentality lays in a muck of flat scenes of symbolism.

Needless to say, however, Herzog tripping over himself, in my opinion, contains moments of wicked absurdity that are quintessential, and moments where the documentary style works strongest, as well as his ever strong eye for 'adequate images'. Maybe the funniest scene, amid two cartoonish looking fellows sitting at a table, has these guys in a daze working out their issues with glasses of beer: one throws a glass at the other's head, without any response, as well as the other just dumping the beer on his head. A moment like this, or the scattered laughter during a botched glass-making attempt, rises to Herzog as a subtle master of weird comedy. It was also worthwhile to actually see how the glass-making process actually worked, as Herzog's eye for men in a physical act like this was pretty interesting. I even dug the whole fast-speed shot of the clouds running over the valley. But even in getting his footage of landscapes, some of it seems like it's aged, put to Popol Vuh music that accentuates its 'trippiness' where it doesn't need it. And it's sad to admit that by having characters that give off a totally empty aura in exquisitely framed and lit compositions aren't a good match.

For me, which it won't be for everyone seeing the film as some may be even more turned off by as being totally boring, which is sort of isn't despite its pretensions and for those who find in it great and moving art which is understandable, it's not a success. But as with directors like Lynch and Woody Allen and even Godard to a degree I'd rather watch a moment of stumbling than a complacent work by a hack Hollywood director. In the midst of the muddle, at the least, there are some bright spots of artistic expression.

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