Martin Luther: Joseph Fiennes
Johann von Staupitz Bruno Ganz
Johann Tetzel: Alfred Molina
Cirolamo Aleandro: Jonathan Firth
Katharina von Bora: Claire Cox
Friedrich: Peter Ustinov
Professor Andreas Carlstadt Jochen Horst
Grete Doris Prusova
Pope Leo X Uwe Ochsenknecht
Cardinal Cajetan Mathieu CarriĬre

Clark/RS Entertainment presents a film directed by Eric Till. Written by Bart Gavigan and Camille Thomasson. Based on the play by John Osborne. Running time: 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for disturbing images of violence).

Central Theme
God has revealed the truth in Scripture and it is the only rule of faith and practice. Luther could not accept any authority that contradicted his conscience as tested by the revealed word of God.

Armed with little more than his beliefs and quick wit, Martin Luther, a young 16th century monk driven by outrage, confronts the Medieval Church. While he is not always cognizant of the far-reaching repercussions of his actions, he ultimately helps usher in the Reformation, fostering a new era of personal and religious freedoms.

While a young law student, Luther abruptly changes course and joins the Augustinian order of monks when he believes his life is spared during a violent lightning storm. His ambitious father is infuriated, and thus Luther turns to a spiritual mentor, Father Johann von Staupitz (BRUNO GANZ). Luther proves an eager, apt disciple and Staupitz selects Luther to join the monastery’s contingent of monks leaving for Rome on church business. He enters the city with the wide-eyed ideals of a young man–only to have them shattered. Depravity is everywhere.

Here, Luther learns about “indulgences.” With these Vatican sponsored certificates, people may buy salvation for a fee and free themselves or deceased relatives from eternal damnation. The young friar brands this the highest form of cynicism and profiteering and asks, “Is not salvation accessible to all?”

Luther is sent to study at the new university in Wittenberg and later becomes a professor of theology. Among his staunch supporters is Prince Frederick the Wise (PETER USTINOV), who admires Luther’s courage of conviction–even though the monk’s vociferous opinions are beginning to cause ripples.

In Rome, the new pope, Leo X, has mandated that funds be raised to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica. The huge financial undertaking is to be financed by the sales of indulgences. The premiere “marketer” of indulgences, Brother John Tetzel (ALFRED MOLINA), preaches to a large German crowd about the hell fire awaiting their wretched souls should they forego this new “special indulgence.”

Luther is incensed at such naked manipulation, inspiring him to write his 95 Theses, an essay he nails to the local church’s door. His writing is reproduced via the new Guttenberg printing press and, within weeks, his criticism of the Church is being read throughout Europe.

The Pope reacts angrily. Luther is to recant his heretical writings or face excommunication, trial by Inquisition and, likely, death. As David before Goliath, he refuses to recant. While his works are inciting popular support among the masses, the Church moves to silence him, permanently. He takes refuge with Prince Frederick, and thus becomes an outlaw for the remainder of his life.

The stage is set for an unprecedented confrontation as Luther is increasingly seen as a popular icon. A schism rips at the heart of the Church as the new “Protestant” movement surges among the populace. Soon, hundreds of thousands pay the price of their rebellion with their lives. Ultimately, Luther’s followers break with Rome, and its hold over the social, political and religious lives of all Europe is vulnerable for the first time in its history.

From this point, Western Civilization develops new attitudes about religion and social order that eventually change the world forever. ‚© RS Entertainment

As I left the theater one of the employees asked a friend what she had just seen. She said, “Luther.” He asked, “what was it about?”. She replied, “Martin Luther.” He asked, “who is Martin Luther.” Therein lies the problem to which this movie is a partial solution. Luther will help people better understand the context in a corrupt Catholicism that gave birth to the Protestant Reformation and will learn some about Luther who reluctantly became the leader of the rebel movement. Unfortunately, Fiennes generally interprets Luther as petulant, sullen and joyless and so some commonly understood aspects of Luther’s complex personality go unexpressed. Nevertheless, this film clearly portrays the gospel, the authority of Scripture, grace and the seeds of the theology of a priesthood of believers I suspect it will be painful for devout Catholics to watch. This would be a great primer for High School and college kids who need to understand the battle that was fought for the scripture that gathers dust on their shelves.

Beliefs num
–Satan exists and seeks to do us harm.
–Our power and salvation come from Jesus Christ alone.
–Salvation is God’s free gift.
–We may interpret the Bible, but we are not above it, nor is the Pope.
–People need the word in their own language.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–How has the Reformation affected your life?
–Waht do you loiok to as the ultimate source of truth?

Provocative Quotes byline
–He’s had 5000 years of practice. He knows all the weak spots.
==von Staupitz consoling Luther doing battle with the devil.
–Say to Him, I am yours. Save. Me.
==von Staupitz prayer for Luther to repeat.
–Have you ever read the NT Martin? Not many have, but you will in Wittenberg.
== von Staupitz assigning Luther to the Seminary.
–Outside the Holy Romans Church there is no salvation.
==Cyprian quoted when Luther asks about ¢â‚¬ËœGreek’ Christians.
–Lay a stone for St. Peter and you lay a foundation for your own salvation and happiness in heaven¢â‚¬¦when a coin the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.
==Tetzel manipulating people to pay for the new St. Peters being built in Rome.
–This drunk German monk is intoxicated with himself. Sober him.
–He may interpret it, but he is not above it.
==Luther regarding the Pope and the Bible.
–I hoped you would reform the church not destroy it.
==von Staupitz.
–Let my errors be proven by scripture.
==Luther to court.
–It is not the word that is important. But what it says about God.
==Luther as he translates the NT into German.
–People try to make me a fixed star, but I am not. I am a wandering planet.
–I don’t know that much about Luther, but this movie makes me want to know more. I only wish it could have been longer and gone into even more detail. It was professionally produced (good editing, good acting, good filming, etc.). It is great to see a movie for adults without profanity or the usual gratuitous sexual situations.
==imdb reviewer.
–That’s the peculiar thing about Fiennes’ performance: He never gives us the sense of a Martin Luther filled with zeal and conviction. Luther seems weak, neurotic, filled with self-doubt, unwilling to embrace the implications of his protest. I don’t know what kind of movie I was expecting “Luther” to be, or what I wanted from it, but I suppose I anticipated that Luther himself would be an inspiring figure, filled with the power of his convictions. What we get is an apologetic outsider with low self-esteem, who reasons himself into a role he has little taste for.
==Ebert Review.

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