The film is the accurate representation of culture being adapted to the modern audience, and this is why it is a must watch for people of all ages. It provides background and historical insights into one of the most pivoting points in the history of religion. However, instead of being a commentated documentary, it is a biographical film about the life of one of the most influential and controversial figures in the history of Christianity.
It accurately tells the story of Martin Luther - from the big events like the posting of his Ninety-Five Theses, to simple get-togethers with his ex-colleagues from school. It has a very classical, narrow story line without any plot-twists that are so popular in the cinema culture of today. It tells the story as it is, without over-complicating it; and I find this rather nifty, because Martin Luther's philosophy also focuses on the simplicity of religion.
However, in my opinion the largest thing that the film accomplishes is not the historical account of things, but rather the depiction of the atmosphere and the "vibe" of the time period. First of all, it shows the great value that was put on religion during the early sixteenth century. This can accurately demonstrate how people's psyche worked at the time period, and allows for a theoretical explanation of their behaviors. It explains the familial and spiritual values of the common people, but it also explains the serious decisions made by political leaders that were influenced by religion. The film successfully shows how religion used to be at the epicenter of everything, and how everything was filtered through a different prism. If today one's religious views and position only affect that person, and the community that he is part of; before, a different opinion in regards to religion would mean a large conflict, because religion lied at the basis of everything, and when it was challenged - a lot was being put at risk. Furthermore, it depicts the manners of people of the time and helps the viewer have a better understanding of the social structure; which to my surprise was less conservative than I had expected. However, not being a historian, I cannot state whether or not the film does and accurate job of depicting the culture of the time period.
Secondly, the film does a great job of opening up Martin Luther as a character - Instead of being an abstract figure in the heads of people, he becomes a real person who went through law school, a monastic lifestyle and rebellious, religious activism. The viewer is showed how real people can have an impact on the world. However, despite being very inspiring, I was a little bit disappointed in the lack of depth in Martin Luther's character. I had expected to be presented to his "realness," but instead I was introduced to a pretty much perfect human being. When there is an obvious protagonist in the film, a character who is too perfect for the world, the film becomes a little bit boring. In modern day cinema, this phenomenon occurs rarely, because producers have figured out the audience prefers real and relatable to perfect and unreachable. However, this practice did not yet come into action when the film was shot, and so we, as the audience, do not get too much depth to the character. The film, in my opinion, is very biased - it presents Martin Luther as the good guy and the founder of Protestantism, and it presents Protestantism as the dominant religion; This is not necessarily true, because Luther was one of the many activists who had this approach to religion. The film is more theological than analytical and objective; but despite being so one-sided, it actually provides a better insight into the Protestant culture and philosophy.
However, all this aside, the film is done very masterfully. Despite being rather old and black and white, it has amazing cinematics. The scenery is not beautiful and authentic, but it is actually the real-life places in which the events of the film were taking place in. The camera movements are very professional and modern - from the following shot, to close-ups. The non- diegetic and diegetic sounds create a great atmosphere and are of a surprisingly high quality. However, one thing that I did not enjoy was the abundant use of voice-over, as it is a rather cheap trick that often goes against the "show don't tell" policy. The costumes were also fantastic. I personally am not sure whether or not they are historically accurate, but they did create an aesthetic and a very unique atmosphere to the film. I particularly enjoyed the final scene when people came together to sing the hymn - not only did it show us the full grandness of the church and the power that the unity of people with common belief create; but it also shows great diversity. I had chills when I was watching this. It highlights the themes of togetherness and unity; and it brings everyone together.
Finally, I want to say that I really enjoyed the acting in this film. I always noticed how movies that are aimed at portraying a different time period often have trouble with casting, as it is incredibly difficult to play something that you have never experienced for yourself, and make it seem real. Once again I would like to mention that I have no way of knowing whether or not the film is culturally accurate, but it certainly does seem so - from the actors' accents and manner of speech to their gait, everything seemed so organic, that at times I was forgetting that the film was shot in the fifties and not when the events were happening.
Overall, I think the movie is a must watch as it provides a valuable insight into the cultural and historical background, as well as into the theology of Protestantism. However, it must be viewed with caution, as it leaves many things out and is also very biased.
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