In a Glass Cage (Tras el cristal) (1989)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

In a Glass Cage (Tras el cristal) Photos

Movie Info

Stylistically compelling, morally ambiguous, and profoundly unsettling, this Spanish psychodrama from writer-director Agustin Villaronga stands beside Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo as one of cinema's most unflinching depictions of human depravity. The story opens in post-WWII Catalonia as former Nazi death camp "doctor" Klaus (Gunter Meisner) consummates his torture-murder of a young man by hurling himself from the roof of his house; this act, motivated either by a sudden attack of conscience or by some form of sexual mania, leaves him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe on his own. We soon find Klaus lying prone in an archaic iron lung, attended by his stern wife Griselda (Marisa Paredes) and young daughter Rena (Gisela Echevarria). When they become unable (or, in his wife's case, unwilling) to look after him, Griselda hires handsome young nurse Angelo (David Sust), unaware that the young man is one of Klaus' former victims, who has maintained a detailed dossier on the "doctor" and his countless unspeakable atrocities. Thus begins a perverse and surreal manipulation of master/servant roles between the immobile Klaus and his equally demented attendant, as the young man attempts to recreate the nightmare world of the camps, even procuring more young victims for his former tormentor's amusement. Though it could be asserted that the stylistically accomplished Villaronga has made a passionate artistic statement about mankind's capacity for unspeakable atrocities, his film may be construed as being one of those horrors in itself. At any rate, Tras el Cristal is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
In Theaters:


Marisa Paredes
as Griselda
David Sust
as Angelo
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Critic Reviews for In a Glass Cage (Tras el cristal)

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (5)

As creepy as they come, leaving a lingering chill that only time can warm

July 10, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Villaronga's unsettling lyrical nightmare hasn't aged a bit; it stays in the mind long after more bloodthirsty recent horror flicks have faded away.

Full Review… | February 7, 2006
Village Voice
Top Critic

May not be for everyone, but it is certainly disturbing, powerful, and accomplished in what it sets out to do.

Full Review… | October 16, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Call it a critical prejudice, but I say slap an outboard motor on that baby and you've got yourself a movie.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Not all movies need to be warm portraits of the best in humanity. But when the subject is the psychological dark side in man (or woman), there ought to be something insightful to mull over.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

It's actually worse that Villaronga is such a terrific filmmaker, as he's able to hold our throats that much tighter, not allowing us to even sip from our inner iron lungs.

Full Review… | July 1, 2011

Audience Reviews for In a Glass Cage (Tras el cristal)


Dark and original. It may not serve a purpose, except to show you behind the walls of a psychopath or a complete monster.

Randy Pronk
Randy Pronk

I'm not sure what to write about this film except that it will most certainly not be for everyone. This very dark and disturbing film is not so much a horror film as it is an examination of the psychological within the evil cruelty of humanity. This is not an easy-going film experience, but there are some potent ideas expressed. And, there can be no denying the quality of the production. Dark, disturbing, uncomfortable and horrific -- Villaronga has made a film you will not be able to forget.

Matty Stanfield
Matty Stanfield

Harrowing, disturbing study is difficult to connect with since almost everybody in it is horrendously villainous.

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

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