Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, an aging professor remembers his dreams and life during a long day in which he drives to receive an honor for his long career as a physician.
Dr. Isak Borg introduces himself and then tells about a strange dream he had on a June morning in which he sees a clock with no hands, a person who is not real, and a funeral car that spills out the coffin from which emerges a living person.
Isak gets up and tells his housekeeper Agda (Jullan Kindahl) to fix him some breakfast because he is planning to drive to the city of Lund, upsetting her plans. They argue about it, and she helps him pack and get ready for his drive but declines to go with him.
Isak’s daughter-in-law Marianne Borg (Ingrid Thulin) has been living in Isak’s house away from her husband Evald, and she decides to go with Isak. He pulls off the road to show her the summer house where his family used to live. He remembers talking with Sara (Bibi Andersson). She is picking wild strawberries as a present for his father. He sees her with Sigfrid (Per Sjostrand) who is flirting with her and wants to win her away from Isak.
Isak and Marianne come across a girl who asks Isak for a ride south because she is going to Italy. He agrees, and she brings along her friends Anders (Folke Sundquist) who wants to be a minister and Viktor (Bjorn Bjelfvenstam) who wants to be a doctor. They discuss these things in the car, and during a stop Anders and Viktor get into a fight that the girl breaks up before they resume their journey.
They stop at a gas station, and the attendant Henrik (Max von Sydow) remembers Isak and is so grateful along with his wife that he refuses to let Isak pay for the gas.
Isak stops at the home of his 95-year-old mother for a talk, and she lets him have an old photo of her with him.
While driving on the road, a speeding car comes around a turn, and both cars try to avoid each other and go off the road. Isak’s car is all right, but the other car flipped over. They get out and learn that the man and woman in the other car are all right. They help them turn the car back on its wheels and tow it with a rope back on to the road. Isak offers the couple a ride, but they quarrel so much with each other that Marianne stops the car and tells them they have to get out. They go on without them.
Isak falls asleep and dreams he is being tested by a professor, and he does badly on the exam. He his charged with being guilty and not knowing that the first duty of a doctor is to forgive.
They arrive at the home of his son Dr. Evald Borg (Gunnar Bjornstrand), and he is surprised to see his wife Marianne and welcomes them. Isak finds that Agda has come after all by plane.
Formally dressed, Isak is honored at a distinguished ceremony.
Later in the spare room Isak asks Agda if they can call each other by their first names, but she says that would not be proper. He hears singing outside and goes out on the balcony to see the girl, Anders, and Victor serenading him. The girl tells Isak that she loves him most of all, and they leave. Isak goes back to bed and dreams.
This drama explores the consciousness of a successful man who is still questioning himself and learning about himself as he wonders about death.