Luther

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Joseph Fiennes as Martin Luther
Alfred Molina as Johann Tetzel
Bruno Ganz as Johann von Staupitz
Jonathan Firth as Girolamo Aleandro
Peter Ustinov as Friedrich, der Weise
Claire Cox as Katharina Luther, geb. von Bora
Uwe Ochsenknecht as Papst Leo X
Benjamin Sadler as Georg Spalatin
Jochen Horst as Professor Andreas Karlstadt
Torben Liebrecht as Emperor Charles V
Mathieu Carrière as Kardinal Jakob Cajetan
Marco Hofschneider as Ulrich
Maria Simon as Hanna
Lars Rudolph as Philip Melanchthon

Special Features:
None

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in 2003. The following is the official description of the DVD:

“Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) stars as Martin Luther, the brilliant man of God whose defiant actions changed the world, in this “epic, ravishingly beautiful” (The New York Times) film that traces Luther’s extraordinary and exhilarating quest for the people’s liberation.

Regional princes and the powerful church wield a fast, firm and merciless grip over 16th-century Germany. But when Martin Luther issues a shocking challenge to their authority, the people declare him their new leader – and hero. Even when threatened with violent death, Luther refuses to back down, sparking a bloody revolution that shakes the entire continent to its core.”

This DVD is rated PG-13 for disturbing images of violence.

The Movie:
You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy Luther, but it probably helps. His story is quite interesting and the man’s actions back then had long lasting effects through today. He saw wide spread corruption in the Catholic Church of the time and took a stand against it. It was amazing that anyone would have taken a stand and said the Church was wrong considering just how widespread the Catholic Church’s influence was. The film not only gives a good perspective on just how powerful the church was back then, but it vividly portrays the corruption and why Luther would be disenfranchised by it. However, the film still manages to show the good side of the Catholic Church and those who genuinely wanted to serve God and do good. Luther’s perspective on God and the church radically changed how Christianity was practiced and preached. His promotion of a Bible in the German language not only revolutionized how people worship but how language and reading is taught. From a historical perspective alone, Luther is a figure worth studying.

Martin Luther is excellently portrayed by Joseph Fiennes. His performance is passionate and convincing. However, he doesn’t portray Luther as a hero or a saint. He plays him as a normal human being and a tortured one at that. Plagued by fear, guilt and self-doubt, it took a lot for Luther to make his stand. Fiennes portrays that perfectly. There are also excellent cameos by Alfred Molina as Johann Tetzel and Peter Ustinov as Friedrich.

This film is actually financed by the Lutherans, but the film itself doesn’t promote one doctrine over another. The film seems to portray Martin Luther accurately and in a factual way. The story starts out well and lays out the background of Luther in a clear and concise way. Unfortunately as the film nears the end it becomes more and more difficult to follow what is going on. It jumps in time and location and seems to gloss over some of the more significant events that happened in the bloody revolt that followed Luther’s teachings. Because of this, anyone not familiar with the actual historical events will probably get lost.

It would be a simple thing to say that if you liked The Passion then you’ll like Luther, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. To put the story of Jesus on par with that of Luther would offend Luther himself. However, Christian audiences are probably going to get more out of it than non-Christian audiences despite that fact that Luther’s importance goes beyond the religious world. And though the film doesn’t bash Catholics, I imagine they probably don’t want the Catholic Church seen in more negative light that it has been recently subjected to. Still, I think there’s a message here for anyone that would stand up for what they believe is right.

The Extras:
There are no extras included on this DVD.

The Bottom Line:
Luther is an inspiring story about standing up for what you believe is right despite overwhelming opposition. Joseph Fiennes delivers a fine performance.

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