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DIE GLÄSERNE ZELLE (1978, DEU) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating

Although this crime drama reached an Oscar nomination in the category of best film outside the English-speaking world, it is difficult to call “Die gläserne Zelle” or “The Glass Cell” the pinnacle of German film of that period. Nevertheless, the film, directed by Hans Geissendörfer and based on the novel of the same name by American crime author Patricia Highsmith, is a solid combination of psychological drama and crime thriller. The focus of this film is the architect Phillip Braun (Helmut Griem) who was housed by Lasky’s former employer and he ended up in jail for fraud after the building he designed collapsed and one person was killed.

Although it was Lasky who saved on the material and cheated the cheaper one which eventually led to the disaster, Phillip was sentenced to five years in prison. All this time, his lawyer and best friend David Reinalt (Dieter Laser) is trying unsuccessfully to prove his guilt. But time passes and after five years Phillip is released from prison and returns to his family, the beautiful wife Lisa (blonde Frenchwoman Brigitte Fossey who debuted in the film as a six-year-old in Clement’s 1952 “Jeux Interdits” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film ) and his son Timmie, who hardly knows him at all. But after his release from prison, Philip suffers from paranoia, almost real prison PTSD, and he becomes convinced that his wife is cheating on him with his lawyer. Although he has served his sentence, Phillip cannot come to terms with his fate and wants to prove that he was accommodated, and his behavior will very quickly turn into a complete obsession.

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He will become more and more jealous of his wife and lawyer, he will behave more and more strangely and antisocially, and all this will result in a completely chaotic and rather brutal ending after which Phillip will come into conflict with the law again. And that’s pretty serious and it will make us all wonder if a man who was obviously innocent in prison will now be held accountable at all for the crimes he actually committed? Although the story here is quite interesting, it all remains quite vague. At the time, the young director seemed to occasionally perish in unnecessary stylizations, and the cast was not at the expected level either. Rating 7/10.

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