Ingmar Bergman had just came off of a couple of big successes when he made The Magician (Ansikte) aka The Face in 1958. Bergman had made The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries in 1957 both masterpieces.
The Magician seems to get lost among all his other films but it’s still a great film.
The movie follows a traveling magical show with Max von Sydow as Vogler, the magician. Ingrid Thulin stars as Vogler’s wife. They travel around with Tubal (Åke Fridell), a fat man who acts as manager and assistant, Granny Vogler (Naima Wifstrand) who creates and sells “potions” and a coachman named Simson.
They arrive in a town in Sweden that doesn’t take to kindly to charlatans. The heads of the town don’t believe in magic and want Vogler to demonstrate his show to them before they perform for the town. The heads of the town are people of science and don’t believe in magic, miracles and such. Vogler and his wife desperately want to prove that they do indeed perform magic. They stay at Dr. Vergerus, Minister of Health’s (Gunnar Björnstrand) house for the night where they perform their act. As the night unfolds many strange things begin to happen.
The film contains Bergman’s usual stock of actors from Sydow to even Bibi Andersson playing a maid. While the story doesn’t tackle life and death like The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries does, it does look at art – performing and creating as well as logic and science against belief. The stark black and white photography is excellent and the movie while it’s no The Seventh Seal is still a fantastic film.