Magus, The (1968)

The Magus (1968), directed by Guy Green.

An English schoolteacher (Michael Caine) arrives on a Greek island and the mystery music plays continuously, even before anything mysterious happens. He encounters an eccentric recluse (Anthony Quinn) and a beautiful young woman (Candice Bergen) who play all sorts of psychodrama games with him. Is she a ghost, a mental patient, an actress? Are they putting him through some sort of gonzo treatment to cure him of being such a jerk? Why are people so willing to enter into the games of manipulative millionaires?

It's one of those islands where no one answers a straight question and the stories are all lies within lies. He goes through many levels of deception, the final 15 minutes being particularly absurd. When they shoot a drug into him and he hallucinates all sorts of weird things, does plot coherence even matter any more?

Beautiful island, attractive stars, decent photography, and a plot that approaches a waste of time. Brief nudity and passion scenes.

Bergen is exceedingly lovely, though. Caine wrote that they had no idea of what the film was about. It was like experimental theater.

Adapted by the author from his novel, which I haven't read in either its original or revised form. I think it is an example of a tiny genre: the "rascal guru" who enlightens his disciples by lying to them and putting them through all sorts of trials and travails. The Illuminatus! books would be an example. The only other movies I can think of would be Guy Ritchie's Revolver (2005) and maybe David Fincher's The Game (1997).