This is one of those movies where you don't actually know what is going on a lot of the time, but it's like fun to just be along for the ride. It's Swedish, of course. Basically, this guy is playing chess with Death (Death as in, the dude whose name is Death who comes and escorts you to the netherworld). The title is from the book of Revelations. The Plague is going around. There are these players who entertain people, actors, and the play itself is sort of symbolic of our lives, etc. The main actor has these "visions" of Mary and Jesus, etc. I have always loved this movie. Though, I realize, I'm not quite sure what it's about, except maybe redemption. That Igmar Bergman was a real crazy genius, in my opinion.
Here is the scene when the knight (did I mention there was a knight, and it's in the Middle Ages) the knight challenges Death to a game of chess. Death arrives to claim the knight's life, and the knight says he isn't ready. Death is like, yeah, that's what they all say. The knight suggests a game of chess first. "I hear you're really good."
"How do you know I'm really good at chess?"
"I've seen you in paintings and stuff. You may be good, but you're not as good as I am."
And thus begins the chess game which lasts the whole film.
Death is one bad ass dude.