During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.
The fifth film in the American Film Theatre series, 'Luther' left me mixed to mildly positive on it. It is worth seeing to see how the play translates to film, results were mixed somewhat there, and for the performances. It may make one interested in reading more on Luther and his life if not done yet. Yet for all its admirable efforts and good intentions, 'Luther' also had potential to be a better film than it was and the real life person and story are a lot more compelling than what was seen here.
'Luther' does have a number of strengths. The production values are suitably gritty, especially the photography, while not being ugly. Which suits the tone of the story well. There is also a haunting but not too intrusive music score from John Addison and there are some powerful, well intentioned moments where Luther and the tension his contrarian views caused did interest. The dialogue is sincere and thought-provoking, without being too talky.
What makes 'Luther' is the acting, which was the most common strength for the American Film Theatre series. Particularly standing is the magesterial lead performance of Keach, though it would have been interesting seeing the role creator Albert Finney do it, and the intense turn of Griffith. Dench is touching in her screen time and Glover makes his character, which could easily have been an out of place irritant, interesting and it was like the character was actually not an interpolation.
Having said that, many of the actors are underused. Particularly Magee, although he does make the most of what he has. Did find the pace often too dull and the drama could have been tighter, flowed more naturally and could have been opened up more. Like the acting being a consistent strength for the American Film Theatre series, staginess was also a common problem and 'Luther' suffered from that at times, which is a problem with the story being pretty slight.
Adaptation-wise, 'Luther' is quite faithful, apart from Luther's more controversial views being under-explored (the film plays it too safe with the anti-semitism for instance). But too often, it came over as too faithful in spirit which accounts for why the film felt too much like a filmed play. Green directs with good intentions, but the directing did feel like it lost interest and momentum in the story later on which is why the film lost lustre.
In summary, worth a look but not an essential and more for curiosity's sake than it being a great film. My opinion of course. 6/10.
- Sep 6, 2021