Biography of Martin Luther, the 16th-century priest who led the Christian Reformation and opened up new possibilities in exploration of faith. The film begins with his vow to become a monk, and continues through his struggles to reconcile his desire for sanctification with his increasing abhorrence of the corruption and hypocrisy pervading the Church's hierarchy. He is ultimately charged with heresy and must confront the ruling cardinals and princes, urging them to make the Scriptures available to the common believer and lead the Church toward faith through justice and righteousness. Written by
During the Indulgence scene with Johann Tetzel, the camera cuts to a close up of the hand above the torch, where one can see the heat resistant gel on the (presumably the stunt double's) hand in the flame. It is most visible on the thumb. See more »
Good people of Juterbog, have you ever burned your hand in the fire? Even one finger made raw by the flame will torment you throughout the night. Is it not so?
[Holds his hand over a fire until it is burned]
Imagine then, your entire body burning. Not for one sleepless night, not for a week, but for all eternity! Are we to be spared the fires of damnation on the Judgment Day?
[Unfurls paintings of sinners burning in the fires of Hell]
Tonight, your Pope, the vicar of Christ, sends you a gift, a ...
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The beauty of Luther is its drama and its casting. Joseph Fiennes did what he does best as the angst-riddled Luther, playing a complex and haunted character that filled the screen even in his quietest moments. The supporting cast was also fabulous, particularly the merry-in-the-face-of-danger performances by Bruno Ganz and Peter Ustinov.
What's troubling, then, about Luther is that the movie just isn't long enough to portray the story accurately, and therefore it feels not only unfinished but full of gaps. Things happen one against another, people come and go with little explanation, and yet the story marches on. Luther's mission is clear, but his purposes are so boiled down that only a few of his famous Theses are actually voiced in the movie. Shortening the story was obviously necessary for a movie, but in all, I think it acts against the dramatic effect of the film as a whole because things end up with a certain disjointed feel.
Still, the cinematography is brilliant and the acting nearly perfect. The film is worth seeing for its visual splendor (in both performance and sets) alone, and certainly as an introduction to a complex historical topic.
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