In A Glass Cage

In A Glass Cage (AKA Tras El Cristel)
Directed by Agustin Villaronga 
Spain, 1986

Well made Spanish drama about a Nazi war doctor who tried to commit suicide but, failed and is now confined to an iron lung for the rest of his days. The doctor lives in an isolated house with his wife and his daughter Rena. His wife contemplates daily whether or not she should pull the plug on her husband. After requesting a nurse to care for her husband a young man by the name of Angelo mysteriously shows up and insists on taking the job. We soon find out the doctor and the young man have a dark past with each other.

In A Glass Cage is a very grim movie but, its made in a professional and tasteful way despite what I’ve heard from people calling it an equivalent to Pierre Pasollini’s Salo: 120 Days Of Sodom. The film makers could have made this movie far more disturbing if their intentions were in this mind set. What the viewer gets is a study of sick fascination and obsession which leads to insanity. Sometimes people are fascinated by things they are afraid of and in a sense In A Glass Cage is similar to this concept. This sense of what someone despises is a possibility of what that person will become despite their past sufferings.

The movie uses a very interesting twist by turning the “bad guy” if you will (in this case the Nazi doctor but, he is never perceived as a cruelty figure as such, more like a confused man with a sickness) into the one we sympathize with. While the character who would normally be looked at as the “hero” out for revenge is looked upon as the villain. Something I found very interesting is the fact the doctor sexually tormented children during his stint with the Nazi’s but at the same time has his own and very young daughter, a daughter he seems to treat quite well. There is some sort of crossover mentality in the movie where it seems during the war the Nazi’s were only “doing their jobs” and in this case, the doctor started to enjoy doing it, got caught up in the fact he knew it was perverted and therefore in repenting attempted suicide.

In A Glass Cage is not exciting, its dark and you never really sympathize with any of the characters except the young daughter Rena because of her innocence of being an impressionable child. You do not sympathize with Angelo who, in regular two dimensional movies would be out for revenge. Instead, Angelo becomes more of the villain. In A Glass Cage is a compelling and original movie about insanity and obsession.

 

 

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