- Original theatrical trailer
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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 on 16th-century Germany. But when Martin Luther issues a shocking challenge to their authority, the people declare him their new leaderand hero. Even when threatened with violent death, Luther refuses to back down, sparkinga bloody revolution that shakes the entire continent to its core.
Like The Passion of the Christ, Luther is the story of a spiritual leader, German monk Martin Luther (Joseph Fiennes), in opposition to the religious orthodoxy of the time (in his case, the 1500s). His goal--to bring God to the people and to take money, fear, and shame out of the equation--made him a reformer to some, a heretic to others. Released around the same time as Mel Gibson's blockbuster, it failed to attract the same degree of attention--or controversy. Granted, it's a different film, but not radically so. Directed by Eric Till (Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace), Luther isn't always easy to follow or as emotionally involving as it could be. That said, it's a fascinating story and Fiennes receives solid support from Alfred Molina (Frida), Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire), and the late Sir Peter Ustinov (Spartacus), in his final film role, as Frederick the Wise. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top customer reviews
The Protestant Revolution was a major event in European history which split northern Europe from the Catholic Church. The revolution was based on his theory that people should be good Christians through their own faith, based on their understanding of the bible, instead of good works such as buying indulgences ( a forgiveness of sins for money) from the Catholic Church.
This is an excellent and entertaining film presenting the life of a man whose intelligence, common sense and passion changed the course of Christianity and the world.
This should be required viewing for students around 12 to 14 and anyone who professes to be a Christian. When I was a young Catholic in the 1950's, any books or films about Martin Luther were forbidden by the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, this film was especially valuable and enjoyable to me.
I'm not a movie critic, but I think the acting was good, too.
I like to share it with my friends who are clueless about the Reformation.
It is easy to see why Joseph Fiennes, then fresh from SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, was cast as Martin Luther: thin and fair, even pale, he looks like nineteenth-century depictions of the young Luther by such artists as James Tissot, and not unlike the few from-life portraits of him. Fiennes' long face, with wide hazel eyes that can burn with fear, anger, or compassion, is always "readable," a perfect reflector of emotion. He is great at conveying the young monk's sincere piety, extreme anxiety about Hell, and barely controlled rage at the Church corruption he sees. His scenes with his sympathetic confessor (Bruno Ganz) and his scene before the intimidating Cardinal Cajetan (Mathieu Carriere) are particularly poignant and riveting, as are the scenes in which he visits Rome and sees its corruption firsthand.
Though Luther's disillusionment with the Catholic Church is clear in Fiennes' portrayal, the staunch Catholics in LUTHER are not cardboard villains. The kind-faced Alfred Molina, for example, makes indulgence seller Johan Tetzel oddly easy to relate to; you feel that his intentions are pure. Jonathan Firth (younger brother of Colin, just as Joseph Fiennes is the younger brother of Ralph) is an elegant Giralomo Aleander, the Vatican official who oversees Luther's trial. Sir Peter Ustinov (himself a Lutheran), who died just months after LUTHER premiered, is a joy to watch as Prince Frederick the Wise, Luther's supporter. Other delights include the German actor Torben Liebrecht, who looks uncannily like the youthful portraits of the Holy Roman Emperor he portrays; a "cameo appearance" by Louis Cranach, the Renaissance artist who painted Luther's portrait; and a period song with which Claire Cox, who makes the most of her brief scenes as Luther's strong-willed wife, serenades her fiancé.
The movie's one drawback is its less-than-perfect screenplay. The "riot" scenes that follow Luther's trial (the smashing of the icons, the Peasants' Revolt) are telescoped, melodramatic, and simply less interesting than are the "theological" scenes. Moreover, the screenplay seems to assume a certain level of prior audience familiarity with both medieval theology and Reformation history; it would be good, then, to know something about both before watching LUTHER. But theology is a hard topic to make entertaining for the masses, and in LUTHER the attempt was very nearly a complete success.
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