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In a Glass Cage (1986)
"Tras el cristal" (original title)

 -  Drama | Horror  -  1986 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,251 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 58 critic

In Spain, the former Nazi doctor Klaus tries to commit suicide jumping off the roof of his manor. However, he survives with the entire body paralyzed and dependable of an iron lung with ... See full summary »

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(as Agustín Villaronga)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Günter Meisner ...
Klaus (as Gunter Meisner)
David Sust ...
...
Gisèle Echevarría ...
Rena (as Gisela Echevarria)
Imma Colomer ...
Jornalera (as Inma Colomer)
Josuè Guasch ...
Niño Cantor (as Josue Guasch)
David Cuspinera ...
Ricardo Carcelero ...
Alberto Manzano ...
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Storyline

In Spain, the former Nazi doctor Klaus tries to commit suicide jumping off the roof of his manor. However, he survives with the entire body paralyzed and dependable of an iron lung with glass sides. His wife Griselda decides to hire a nurse since she does not bear the situation. Klaus asks Griselda to hire Angelo, a mysterious teenager that appears in their house. Angelo befriends Klaus' daughter Rena and sooner it is shown that Klaus was a pedophile that loved to feel the fear of death in young boys before abusing and killing them. Further, Angelo is a disturbed and totally insane victim of his experiments that intends to follow the insanities described in Klaus' diary and incorporate his personality. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

nazi | nurse | iron lung | murder | pedophile | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Certificate:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tras el cristal  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director/writer Agustí Villaronga said that the origin of the story came when he read about Giles de Rais (1404-1440), a devoutly religious follower of Joan of Arc who fought valiantly on her side and was later trialed and executed by the Catholic Church for heresy and sexual crimes (sodomy) committed against children, mainly boys, estimates of which range as high as 800. See more »

Quotes

Klaus: [talking to a child] Want a cigarette? Want to make some money?
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User Reviews

 
An unflinching gaze into the abyss of human corruption
12 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

IN A GLASS CAGE (Tras el Cristal)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Mono

Confined to an iron lung following an unsuccessful suicide attempt, a former Nazi doctor (Gunter Meisner) is visited in his isolated country home by a mysterious young man (David Sust) who professes knowledge of Meisner's 'work' with adolescent boys in the concentration camps, where the doctor had cultivated an appetite for sadistic sexual abuse. Harboring terrible secrets of his own, Sust begins to undermine Meisner's terrified family, culminating in a resumption of the doctor's hideous 'experiments'...

Agustín Villaronga's magnificent feature debut premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986, where it was alternately cheered and denounced for its unflinching gaze into the abyss of human corruption, and the movie's extreme subject matter prompted its subsequent lapse into obscurity. However, Villaronga's subsequent works - including MOON CHILD (1989) and EL MAR (1999) - have travelled the international festival circuit to great acclaim, leading to a belated reappraisal of IN A GLASS CAGE, his darkest, most harrowing movie to date. Ostensibly a slow-burning melodrama punctuated by a series of Hitchcockian/Argentoesque set-pieces (most notably a nerve-shredding sequence in which Almodóvar favorite Marisa Paredes - here playing Meisner's harried wife - is stalked through the house by Sust when she becomes surplus to his requirements), the film asks profound questions about the monsters which lurk inside each and every one of us, and illustrates with startling clarity the cyclical nature of sexual abuse. Some viewers, especially parents of young children, will undoubtedly be horrified by some of the confrontational material included here, as Villaronga refuses to soft-peddle the horrors conjured by his nightmare scenario (the movie's second murder is especially shocking, though there's very little on-screen gore). In a brief interview published in 2003, the director explained how some of the more unpleasant scenes involving children were created by having them play a series of innocent 'games' which were then edited into the finished product, and there's a disclaimer in the closing credits which offers an unequivocal reassurance that none of the young actors were exposed to anything inappropriate during filming, and that a child psychologist was present during the recording of those sequences.

Beautifully played by a fearless cast (veterans Meisner and Paredes are appropriately subdued, whilst newcomer Sust makes a startling transition from handsome, fresh-faced innocent to strident Nazi demi-god, rampaging through Meisner's increasingly devastated home with newfound sexual maturity) and filmed with genuine skill by a top-notch production team, Villaronga's extraordinary film explores the wartime ghosts which continue to haunt the collective European consciousness. To his eternal credit, the director approaches his subject with deadly seriousness: Using numerous cutaways to photographs of children taken in concentration camps at the end of the Second World War, he deflects any suggestion of 'exploitation' by constantly reminding viewers of the historical truth which underpins his fictional drama. By turns haunting, horrific and deeply disturbing, IN A GLASS CAGE is an authentic masterpiece, arguably one of the finest - and most difficult

  • movies to emerge from Spain during the 20th century. However, be
warned: Not everyone will be swayed by the film's courage and audacity, and some viewers will be genuinely shocked by Villaronga's uncompromising approach to the material.

(Spanish dialogue)


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