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Martin Luther (1953)

Biopic of German priest Martin Luther (Niall MacGinnis), covering his life between 1505 and 1530 A.D., and the birth of the Protestant Reformation movement.


Irving Pichel


Allan Sloane (researched and prepared for the screen by), Lothar Wolff (researched and prepared for the screen by) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Niall MacGinnis ... Martin Luther
John Ruddock John Ruddock ... Vicar von Staupitz
Pierre Lefevre Pierre Lefevre ... Spalatin
Guy Verney Guy Verney ... Melanchthon
Alastair Hunter ... Carlstadt (as Allastair Hunter)
David Horne ... Duke Frederick
Fred Johnson ... Prior
Philip Leaver ... Pope Leo X
Heinz Piper ... Dr. Eck
Leonard White Leonard White ... Emissary
Egon Strohm Egon Strohm ... Cardinal Alexander
Annette Carell ... Katherine von Bora (as Annette Carrell)
Alexander Gauge Alexander Gauge ... Tetzel
Henry Oscar
Irving Pichel ... Brueck


This biographical account of Martin Luther's actions that eventually created the Lutheran and Protestant denominations was filmed in conjunction with the Lutheran Church. Niall MacGinnis portrays the friar whose nailing of the ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg created such a stir that it shook the foundations of the medieval Church. This movie shows the struggle between Luther and Rome, and how the medieval Church did not fully explain things he questioned, which led to him to be labelled a heretic.

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Martin Luther's protest changed the course of Western history See more »


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Did You Know?


Because Erfurt, Elberback Cloister, and Eltville Castle were located in Communist East Germany in 1953, the producers chose substitute filming locations in West Germany. Maulbronn Cloister near Stuttgart was substituted for Erfurt. Various spots in Wittenberg substituted for other historical locations. The Wartburg Castle, the site where Luther translated the New Testament into German, was filmed from a distance, since it was located in Communist East Germany. The Diet of Worms assembly hall had to be re-created in the studio, since the real hall was destroyed in World War II. See more »


Featured in Wormwood: Chapter 2: A Terrible Mistake (2017) See more »

User Reviews

Looking at the life of Luther from a very Lutheran perspective
15 March 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

There are quite a few films about Martin Luther, though this one is unusual because it was produced by the Lutheran Church--not Hollywood or some other secular group. Not surprisingly, when I grew up a Lutheran, this is the version they occasionally showed at church functions. Also, not surprisingly, it's filled with church doctrine and other teachings that you won't get in a Hollywoodized version of the life of this church leader.

At times the film is very much like a documentary in style--with narration and explanation of Luther's inner torments when he began having doubts about his Catholic faith. You see a slightly less human side to Niall MacGinnis' characterization of Luther--more the authoritarian and scholarly in nature and fewer insights into his personal life. Considering the film's goal is to elevate this made to greatness as the leader of the faith, it does a very good job in inspiring the masses and putting across many of the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Very well made and well worth seeing.

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West Germany | USA



Release Date:

25 October 1954 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Martin Luther See more »


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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