In a Glass Cage

Article excerpt

A modern cult classic, In a Glass Cage (1987), directed by Spaniard Agustin Villaronga, is a variation on the themes of sadomasochism and the relationship between sex and Thanatos under fascism first explored by Liliana Cavani in the influential The Night Porter (1974). As in that excellent film, in which concentration camp survivor Charlotte Rampling checks into a Vienna hotel and has a torrid affair with the night porter (Dirk Bogarde), a former S.S. officer with whom she had been forced into a sadomasochistic relationship in the camps thirteen years earlier, In a Glass Cage concerns a Nazi who, years later, becomes involved with someone with whom he had had a bizarre sexual relationship in a concentration camp. In this instance, however, the man (Klaus/Gunter Meisner) is a pedophile and the former victim, a young boy.

The film begins with Klaus, a doctor who has been performing medical experiments on and sexually abusing children in the camps, jumping off a building in a suicide attempt, but ending up paralyzed instead. Fast-forward years later to Spain where the evil doctor, now in hiding, is confined to an iron lung under the care of his wife and daughter. A mysterious, beautiful boy (Angelo/Davis Sust) arrives and insists on becoming Klaus's nurse, revealing his true identity--as one of the boys that he had sexually molested and tortured--only to the doctor. What follows is a series of shocking scenes in which the boy gradually starts to act out the same sexual power games of torture and murder that the doctor performed in the camps. …