Max Von Sydow’s face was made for cinema—his starry-eyed gaze is redolent of silent film stars. This expressionist quality is at its height in THE MAGICIAN, in which he spends a great deal of the film performing without speech. In this battle of the wits between a Victorian-era traveling showman and a corrupt doctor, Van Sydow’s character is essentially a Bergman stand-in, a frustrated artist facing off against a bureaucratic and morally corroded society. Eerie and gorgeously shot in shadowy black and white, THE MAGICIAN casts a marvelous spell. It’s a film that brings us close to Bergman’s grievances about audiences and critics, and his appreciation of the transcendence of cinema. An absolutely essential work in Bergman’s oeuvre.