The film stars Max von Sydow as a traveling magician named Albert Vogler. Reading reports of a variety of supernatural disturbances at Vogler's prior performances abroad, the leading townspeople request that Vogler's troupe provide them a sample of their act, before allowing them public audiences. The scientifically-minded disbelievers try to expose them as charlatans, but Vogler has a few tricks up his sleeve.
The film was distantly inspired by G. K. Chesterton's play called Magic which Bergman claimed to be a favourite of his. Bergman actually staged a theatre production of "Magic" in Swedish at one point.