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Ingmar Bergman brings the worlds of cinema and theater together as a stage director takes on his new actress and former mistress in a duel of wits, whilst they rehearse a new play together.
Henrik Vogler (Erland Josephson), an aging director in the process of staging a production of August Strindberg's 'A Dream's Play', remains in the theatre alone one night after a rehearsal has taken place to reflect on his life and career. He is subsequently joined by young ingenue Anna (Lena Olin), who seems to have romantic designs on him, and later by Rakel (Ingrid Thulin), a former lover of Henrik's and possibly Anna's mother.
In a film of many layers and intricacies one thing is very clear - the true confessional is Bergman's, craving forgiveness from his attentive audience.