Title – ‘In a Glass Cage‘
Director – Agustí Villaronga
Starring – Günter Meisner, David Sust, Marisa Paredes, Gisèle Echevarría
Release Date – 1986
Darkness. A house containing evil and secrets. Innocence lost. A desire for revenge and murder. ‘In a Glass Cage‘ takes no prisoners and instead marches onwards through its self-made carnage towards a delicate balancing of art-house sensibilities and an exploration of twisted humanity. In fact this film is so disturbing that even John Waters said, “I’m too scared to show it to my friends!”
Agustí Villaronga made the harrowing film in 1985 and partially based it on Gilles de Rais, a companion to Joan of Arc and a notorious and self-confessed murderer of children (supposedly in the hundreds!). Like Pasolini’s ‘Salo’, Villaronga decided to set his tale at the end of WWII and utilizes a Nazi as the twisted figure at the center of the film. The film starts without remorse with Klaus (our resident evil dude) taking photos of a boy hanging from a rope. He’s naked and bears the marks of repeated tortures (I never said this was an easy movie to watch!!). After dealing the killing blow to the young boy Klaus seems to have some sort of revelation and immediately runs up to the roof of the house and jumps. Meanwhile someone was watching the proceedings and steals Klaus’ scrapbook/diary of his evils.
Fast-forward a few years and we’ve found that Klaus, while still alive, is now living inside a large iron lung. A device that controls his breathing. Without it he dies. His wife (played by Almodovar regular Marisa Paredes) and young daughter have been taking care of him in a country house in Catalonia where they try and avoid the Nazi witch hunt taking place in the rest of the world that would surely condemn them. Suddenly an invader boldly infiltrates the house and locks the door where Klaus is kept. When the wife demands to be let in she finds Angelo, a brooding young man petitioning to become Klaus’ nurse. Much to her dismay Klaus insists that Angelo stay to be his nurse and we eventually find out that it’s because Angelo is the one that knows all of Klaus’ secrets.
What follows is a dangerous lesson in power dynamics and the nature of evil itself. The beginning is dramatic, the middle is disturbing, and the end of the film is incredibly hypnotic and moving.
Besides the fantastic acting and writing, the cinematography is really what stands out to me in this film. Jaume Peracaula has lensed almost all of Agustí Villaronga’s films and he manages to find a perfect balance between light and dark and most of all the color blue which I’m sure has some symbolic meaning that I can’t quite figure out (I’m being honest at least!). The transfer that we’ve brought to Dekkoo is the latest High Definition remaster which really is miles better than the old DVD that used to exist where you could barely make out what was happening in half of the film.
While the themes are difficult to handle I truly love this movie. Top 25 for sure! To me it seems like ‘Salo’ as directed by Dario Argento and Pedro Almodovar and I’m crazy excited that it’s finally here on Dekkoo where you can challenge yourself to Agustí Villaronga’s masterpiece.
Watch it with: Probably just yourself.
Mix it with: Water.