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.
Of course, Martin Luther is treated in considerable depth at German high schools, but the resulting knowledge consists of a somewhat puzzling series of events and dates. This film shows the atmosphere of the times, the mindset of the people, and particularly Luther's own mental anguish about the condition of the Christian church at that time, and his thoughts and feelings as the driving force of a major religious and political upheaval. Very illuminating is the seriousness with which personal beliefs are taken, not only by the "little people", but by their worldly leaders as well, in contrast to the callousness of the church leaders around the pope. It is also interesting how Luther benefited from the relatively fair and tolerant attitudes and practices of the 16th century, which were completely wiped out a hundred years later.
The acting in the movie is excellent, as are the scenery and costumes, shown in stark black and white photography. The producers spared no expense to present the wide range of political and religious figures with whom Luther interacted. The dialogs are poignant and always clearly understandable over any background music. Unfortunately, my CD exhibits a rather poor video quality, considering that it is based on a post-WW2 b/w movie. Still, the film is fascinating to watch from beginning to end and, if shown in high school, would successfully replace a week of dry learning.
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