Luther the Movie

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by KenH, Aug 13, 2003.

  1. KenH

    KenH
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    Wow! I just found out about this. This movie is coming out on September 26. This should be of interest to anyone who enjoys church history.

    Check out this website and the trailer - www.lutherthemovie.com
     
  2. KenH

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    Here's a review:

    Luther Movie Review:


    The lights go down and the screen stays black. Then there is the pounding noise of thunder, growing louder and louder, the screen lights up with a burst of lightening, and we see a man running across an open field. The bolts of lightening crash all around and one strikes the ground right next to him. He falls face down in mud, crying out in absolute terror, "Save me, St. Anne. I'll become a monk. Save me! Save me!" It is so realistic you feel like ducking under your seat and making a few promises of your own. So begins "Luther" the new movie on the life of the Reformer. It will be released this Fall, September 26, in 300 theaters, in 55 major urban areas across the country, with more to come following throughout the rest of the year.

    From the storm, we see Luther becoming a monk, then it moves to Luther celebrating his first mass, trembling in fear at the moment of consecrating the elements of Holy Communion. The movie continues with scene after scene in the life of the younger Luther. It pulls you in and keeps the drama and action moving to the very end.

    The years covered are July 1505 to June 1530. This is the greatest challenge for the movie. It may also be a chief criticism of it. How is it possible to fit these twenty-five tumultuous years into a space of less than two hours? Is there too much to make sense? What has to be left out? One can only imagine the agonizing decisions that had to be made in the process.

    This is my only concern with the movie. Is it too much for the audience to follow? I am concerned that in fact so much is packed in that the movie might tend to be a bit confusing. I may very well be wrong. Various focus groups of all ages indicated how they were thoroughly captivated by the movie and consider it dramatic, moving and exciting. One young lady of 22 said that she can't wait to see it again and will gladly pay to do so this time. Another person involved in distributing films professionally in Hollywood, California said after seeing the movie, "This is the Lutheran Braveheart!"

    The movie is stunning, dramatic, powerful and beautiful. For a Lutheran, the movie is intensely emotional. The movie takes a few liberties with the sequence of certain events and even some details, for the sake of making sense out of things for the viewer. Where the movie does portray an actual event and relate actual details the level of fidelity to the actual history is remarkable and powerful. I come away in awe at the level of detail and historical accuracy, far more than I expected or even hoped for.

    The acting is very well done by the lead, Joseph Fiennes, who portrays Luther as a young monk and then younger man, gaunt from his monastic life, profoundly intense and passionate about the spiritual care of souls, both his own and others. Those who play supporting roles in the film do a very fine job. All very authentic and believable, communicating through voice and expression, the entire range of human experience.

    Does the Gospel come through in this movie? Absolutely, yes. Would I have appreciated more? Yes, absolutely. Let me hasten to add that it was breathtaking to hear the Gospel come through as clearly as it did, when it did. A major Hollywood distributor said that he loved the movie and wanted to distribute it, but he had one condition. He asked for all the "Christ stuff" to be taken out. It wasn't. Thank goodness. I appreciate how the movie revolves around the theological issues, and doesn't make Luther out to be a social revolutionary or champion of free speech or any of the assorted other misunderstandings of Luther that are often offered up (PBS special!)

    The movie shows Luther's progress in realizing how, in Christ, God is a loving heavenly father, not the harsh judge who is appeased only though works of piety on the part of the faithful. I would have appreciated a bit more than what the movie did, but I can not help but be thankful for the Gospel that is in the movie. There is no question that it is Christ whom Luther discovered.

    The movie had to choose which major events leading to the Diet of Augsburg to show. They therefore chose to leave out the Heidelburg Disputation, the Leipzig Debate and did not deal with the Sacramentarian controversy. I can't fault them for these decisions. Again and again, when I think to criticize, I ask myself, "But what could they have done in two hours that they didn't do?" I think the decisions on what to feature and what not to include were, overall, wise. I'm not sure I agree with a fictitious scene early in the movie, but for dramatic effect, it was included.

    This is a movie, not a documentary. That is a key point to keep in mind.

    Ironically, however, it makes the Luther documentary broadcast on PBS this summer look rather anemic, particularly, and most importantly, when it comes to the articulation of the Gospel.

    "Luther" does a marvelous job portraying the problems of the church in the 16th century, the scenes of Luther's visit to Rome and then the selling of indulgences by Tetzel are absolutely brilliant. They use a fictitious woman and her child to bring home the personal impact of the sale of indulgences and Luther's very pastoral response.

    The costumes, location work, and cinemaphotography are stunning. The historical accuracy is also impressive. For example, Lucas Cranach's paintings are seen in the elector's palace. The relics on display are very authentic looking, the costumes show the stark contrast between the "haves" and the "have nots." Those who are aware of these details, will appreciate the depth of detail in the movie. The movie was filmed on many locations throughout Europe and therefore the movie has a level of realism and authenticity that is very impressive.

    The movie shows Luther's multifaceted personality, warts and all. The depth of his spiritual anguish is shown in disturbing reality, as he writhes in spiritual, emotional and mental torment, contemplating a God whom He can never make love Him and a Devil constantly seeking to devour

    Him. It is painful to watch. Do we take matters this seriously? But then we see the bold, confident man of faith, clinging to the Word, standing up courageously for what the Word of God teaches about Christ and salvation.

    The movie ends with a dramatic portrayal of the courage of the princes of the German territories at Augsburg informing Emperor Charles V of their decision to defend the teachings of Luther.

    We can be thankful that the movie does not pander to "political correctness" but shows the reality of those years and the faults and failings of all concerned. Politicians are shown to be shrewd and wise, but also men of faith and conviction. Peter Ustinov as Luther's faithful defender, Elector Frederick is simply a delight. He masterfully shows Frederic moving toward supporting Luther and then defending him and then embracing his beliefs. The movie takes liberties with history to show Luther meeting Frederick and presenting him a copy of the Bible in German, a powerful moment in the film.

    The movie has not yet been assigned a rating. One would imagine that it will be a PG-13 movie. The scenes of death in the movie are graphic. There are no battle sequences, but the results of the peasant war are graphically presented, along with several images of hangings. This is not a movie for younger children, nor should it be. The portrayal of violence is necessary to show just how powerful an impact the results of

    Luther's work and its misinterpretation were.

    Luther is portrayed as uttering a vulgarity when in the midst of spiritual torment, a term then that was very common. It may disturb some to recognize just how human Luther was, but should it? This movie is dealing with reality, not fantasy. I applaud the producers for showing us just enough, but not too much. Some may disagree. The bottom line is that if one is looking for a "G" rated movie, that presents an idealized picture of things, one would be better served by sticking with the 1950s era Luther movie in black and white. Reality in full color is something quite better, in my opinion, in more ways than one.

    Reflecting on the movie, it would be easy to quibble and find fault with all sorts of things; however, does the movie deliver a dramatic and engaging portrayal of Luther and his work? Yes. Does it articulate the Gospel? Yes. Does it articulate it clearly enough? Perhaps not, nor as often as we would like, but yet, clearly, it is Christ to whom Luther is pointed and to whom He clings for hope and salvation. Christ is named and is the focus of Luther's work. It is remarkable that they got the Gospel as right as they did. Those looking for a "docu-drama" may be disappointed, for there is simply no way a movie that is slightly less than two hours can deliver that.

    This reviewer left the Movie Theater inspired, uplifted and profoundly moved by the power of this movie. It encouraged me to dig more deeply into Luther's writings, and Luther biographies. It brought many aspects of the man Luther to life and lifted him from a cold printed page to a living, human reality. Of course, it is still a movie, but the opportunity to view things in this manner has greatly increased my interest in learning even more about Luther. I have spent most of my professional life studying Luther and reading Luther and this movie did not leave me disappointed. For those who know little about him, I am sure they will be fascinated as well.

    The goals of this movie were to provide a motion picture that would attract interest and present a powerful moment in history, a moment of high drama, with action and emotion to bring audiences in, and then, once there, to give them a chance to meet Martin Luther, and have a sense of what he went through. It is that interest that we can capitalize on to help people learn more about Luther and his beautiful exposition of the Gospel.

    I am convinced that this movie really will open doors for people interested in Lutheranism, wanting to learn more about Martin Luther, his life and his work. What a great opportunity for Lutheran congregations! It will provide a valuable tool for years to come to help portray the essential truths of the Lutheran Reformation. Many thanks are due Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for seeing this project through to completion.

    It will be released on DVD sometime in February 2004, after running its course in the theatres in the USA and Europe.

    Concordia Publishing House has a companion book that will be released in the coming weeks, a very clear, direct and simple biography that will fill in many gaps and articulate much more clearly the essential truths the movie covers. I'll provide more information on that later.

    Cordially in Christ,
    Rev. Paul T. McCain
    Concordia Publishing House
    St. Louis, Missouri

    -www.thezreview.co.uk/reviews/l/luther.htm
     
  3. Sherrie

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    Ken...looks good!

    Sherrie
     
  4. Bugman

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    This looks VERY good. I want to see it a lot more than The Passion

    Bryan
    SDG
     
  5. Ben W

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    Sounds like one worth going along to have a look at. [​IMG]
     
  6. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    Thanks for the info Ken! I can hardly believe there are now TWO movies coming out soon that I want to see! [​IMG]
     
  7. Paul of Eugene

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    Ken, does the movie touch on Luthor's opposition to the teachings of the astronomer Copernicus?
     
  8. KenH

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    I have not seen the movie yet but I doubt it since I think the subject is the Reformation, not how mankind came to generally accept many decades after Luther's death the idea that the earth revolves around the Sun.

    But I will try to notice when I watch the movie. [​IMG]
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    Surely hope it moves better than the "docudrama" that has been on the market for years. (Can't think of the actor, with the hairlip?? Want to say Peach or Keach??)

    Anybody see THAT rendition?
     
  10. Johnv

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    No, but in the last month, PBS aired a very good documentary on Luther and the Reformation.

    Interestingly, it can be very difficult to have a complete grasp on events such as these. Removing ourselves from 21st century influence, and putting ourselves in a 500 year old society is very difficult. Kind of like being stranded on a deserted island without so much as a microwave [​IMG]
     
  11. Major B

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    Stacy Keach, the actor with the repaired cleft palate, and, while he was making Luther, a substantial coke habit (not the bottled kind). Pretty sad version.
     
  12. Major B

    Major B
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    [
    Luthor (Lex) was Superman's opponent, not a reformer.

    Luther (along with John Donne, William Shakespere, and many others) was uncomfortable with Copernicus' conclusions. That is as irrelevant for Luther's greatness and usefulness as it is for the two literary lights.
     
  13. Paul of Eugene

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    Luthor (Lex) was Superman's opponent, not a reformer.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Well, I suppose you're telling me the movie doesn't mention him then. :D

    Except that Luther's booboo in this regard can serve as an example to the rest of us to avoid making the same mistake he did, that is, using scriptural reasons to oppose scientific findings.
     
  14. KenH

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    What does this have to do with a movie about Luther's part in the Reformation. :confused:
     
  15. Paul of Eugene

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    Well, its more of his LIFE and the issue of the direction taken by the reformation reverborates down to this day - we still have a flat earth society out there!
     
  16. KenH

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    If Luther was the founder of that organization I am not aware of it. Do you have information that he was? :confused:
     

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