Consumed by self-doubt, a middle-aged writer and scholar (Jan Blomberg) cannot settle his mind about his political beliefs or his marriage and attempts suicide. He survives but is soon brutalized by a group of thugs for his previous political stances. Thrown into a state of hallucinogenic reverie, he encounters figures from Dante's Il Purgatorio and moments from it are reenacted, such as Count Ugolini's eating his own children. He has increasingly meaningful encounters, including the poem's Beatrice (Inger Jalmert Moritz), and toward the end of the film it looks as if both his physical and his psychic health may be restored.
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