The Rite marks Bergman's first made-for-television project, it explores an issue that he continued to return to throughout his career; the artist's place in society and the often troubled relationship between men and women.
Filmed with a cast of just four principal actors, the story revolves around three close friends, including a husband and wife, who make up a theatre troupe. They have been prohibited from performing a short play called 'The Rite' and are brought before the local magistrate on charges of obscenity. Through ruthless interrogation and humiliation, innermost secrets are revealed and hidden relationships disclosed, but they still convince the judge to allow them a private performance solely for him.
Sombre, sexually explicit and surreal, The Rite was made during Bergman's tenure as head of Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre and was written, he says as, 'a way to channel his fury' at the reprimands he received.