The Magus is an esoteric, talky, slowly-developing, sensitively-executed, and somewhat dull film. Adapted by John Fowles from his novel, the production, filmed largely on Majorca (although setting is Greece), is a black fantasy-drama of self-realization. Michael Caine stars, in one of his better performances, along with Anthony Quinn, Candice Bergen and Anna Karina.
This near-miss is not without many notable virtues. Fowles’ script sustains interest in its convolutions; direction is resourceful and sensitive; Caine is far more dynamic than usual and Quinn and the two femme stars register strongly.
Caine is an English teacher dispatched to a Greek island as replacement for a suicide. On the island, he meets Quinn, who is a mystic, or a wealthy spiritual hedonist playing God, or a film producer, or a recluse.
Those eager to shift intellectual planes for sheer enjoyment may find the pacing too expository and pedantic: those willing enough to be drawn along might crave more optical effects..