Tras el cristal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tras el cristal
Tras el cristal.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Agustí Villaronga
Produced by Teresa Enrich
Written by Agustí Villaronga
Starring Günter Meisner
Marisa Paredes
David Sust
Music by Javier Navarrete
Cinematography Jaume Peracaula
Edited by Raúl Román
T.E.M. Productores S.A.
Distributed by Lauren films
Release dates
  • 3 March 1987 (1987-03-03)
Running time
110 minutes
Country Spain
Language Spanish
Box office 31,624,135 [1]

Tras el cristal (English: In a Glass Cage) is a 1987 Spanish film written and directed by Agustí Villaronga and starring Günter Meisner, Marisa Paredes and David Sust.[2] The plot follows an ex-Nazi sadistic child abuser who is now paralyzed and depending on an iron lung to live. A young man who comes to nurse him was one his former victims years before. The film was inspired by the history of Gilles de Rais.[3] With its theme mixing Nazism, pedophilia, torture and homosexuality, the film was highly controversial.[2]


Klaus, a former Nazi German doctor who practiced horrific experiments with children during World War II, has continued with his sick attraction for torturing and killing young boys during his exile in a remote village in Catalonia. His latest victim is a child he has tortured and later kills with a blow to the head, taking photographs of the crime. This sadistic act has been witnessed by Angelo, another of Klaus' victims, who has spied him from a window, later stealing the tortured incriminating writings and photographs of the doctor's crimes. Klaus tries to commit suicide jumping from a tower, but he survives. As a result of his failed attempt he is now unable to breathe on his own and is immobile, confined permanently in an iron lung to survive.

Some years later, Klaus is being taken care of by his wife Griselda and their young daughter Rena in a large gloomy house in the country. Griselda is unhappy in Spain and, overwhelmed by the task of looking after her husband, she secretly wishes he would just die. Then a young man with a scarred face named Angelo appears, offering his services as a nurse to help take care of Klaus. Griselda takes an instant dislike towards Angelo and does not want to hire him, but Klaus insists that he should stay. In reality, Angelo has no actual nursing skills, which Griselda soon discovers, but even then Klaus refuses to get rid of him. It is revealed that Angelo was one of Klaus's victims and that, in the past, they had a sickening, sadomasochistic relationship. Angelo's true aim is revealed to be not only to take his revenge out on Klaus, but to ultimately take his place. Angelo reads Klaus passages from the diaries he stole in which the doctor describes, in detail, how he tortured his young victims. Recreating what Klaus did to him, Angelo strips and masturbates in front of Klaus' glass cage. He then calls Griselda. She tries to run away, but he kills her, hanging her from the rails of the second floor.

The next day, Angelo fires the housekeeper, taking over the house with Rena's help. Rena is not disturbed by her mother's absence, as Griselda was abusive towards her. Rena feels far more comfortable under Angelo's care. Angelo continues with the doctor's experiments, bringing young boys to Klaus in his iron lung. Angelo lures a child to the house with the excuse of needing help with carrying the groceries, and ties him to a chair. In front of Klaus, Angelo kills the boy by injecting him through the heart with a needle filled with gasoline. A second boy is then brought in and Angelo kills him by cutting his throat after making him sing. Fearing that Angelo is out of control and that his life and Rena's are in danger, Klaus tells his daughter to run away to the near village with a message asking for help.

Angelo discovers Rena while she is trying to escape and brings her back to the house. He dominates her, sometimes assuming a perverse "parental" role over her using violence. Finally Angelo removes Klaus from his iron lung to die by asphyxiation while emulating the scene of his own abuse, in Rena's presence. Once Klaus is dead, Angelo takes his identity totally, getting into the artificial lung, and makes Rena take his.


  • Günter Meisner as Klaus
  • David Sust as Angelo
  • Marisa Paredes as Griselda
  • Gisèle Echevarría as Rena
  • Imma Colomer as the housekeeper
  • Ricardo Carcelero as Angelo as a child
  • Alberto Manzano as gypsy child


The film was the directorial debut of the Spanish filmmaker Agustí Villaronga.[4] Made in 1985, Tras el cristal was partially funded by subventions from the ministries of culture both of Spain and of the regional Catalan government.[4] It was distributed by Barcelona based Lauren films.[4] The "glass cage" of the film's title refers to the archaic iron lung which has become the home within a home for ex-Nazi Klaus after a failed suicide attempt.[2] Tras el cristal was inspired by the history of Gilles de Rais, a fifteenth-century French nobleman who preyed on children in sadistic black magic rituals and was eventually convicted.[3]


Tras el cristal was released on DVD in the United States on 25 May 2004 by Cult Epics.[2] The film is in Spanish with English subtitles. The bonus feature includes a brief interview with director Agustí Villaronga about the making of the film, the origins of the story, the stylistic use of color and location, and the acting. The film made its debut on Blu-ray Disc on November 8, 2011.


  1. ^ Tras El Cristal, Película descarga
  2. ^ a b c d Schwartz, The Great Spanish Films Since 1950, p. 193
  3. ^ a b Foster, Spanish writers on gay and lesbian themes, p. 183
  4. ^ a b c Kinder, Blood Cinema, p. 184


  • Foster, David William. Spanish writers on gay and lesbian themes : a bio-critical source book. Greenwood. 1999. ISBN 978-0-313-30332-6
  • Kinder, Marsha. Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain. Berkeley University Press, 1993. ISBN 0520081579
  • Schwartz, Ronald. Great Spanish Films Since 1950. The Scarecrow Press, Maryland, 2008. ISBN 0-8108-5405-8

External links[edit]