Guest / Limited Access /
Our Rating
not rated  
Average Rating
 
(2 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Directed By
Eric Till
Run Time
2 hours 3 minutes
Cast
Joseph Fiennes, Alfred Molina, Jonathan Firth, Claire Cox
Theatre Release
September 26, 2003

Before the Reformation, the meaning of life came highly structured from the hierarchy of the Church. One didn't ask questions. One didn't need to.

Many believers, perhaps most, experienced Truth through relics, images, and rituals—not as oppression but as comfort. To be sure, one did not meet God face to face. But one did not want to! For the late-medieval rank and file, assurance of salvation came not from bold access to the throne of God, but from the myriad mediating practices of penance and devotion.

In Luther, one scene in particular brings home this historical reality. Glowing with joy, a young mother who has purchased an indulgence (a remission of temporal punishment) for her crippled daughter holds it out to a gaunt Martin Luther: "Look what I bought for Greta!" She has been gulled by the rhetoric of the charlatan indulgence-seller, Johann Tetzel (Alfred Molina).

Luther (Joseph Fiennes) takes the paper and reads it. His anger at the corrupt establishment rises and boils over. He forgets the gentleness he has displayed toward her. "This is worthless," he says, crumpling it in his fist. "You must rely on God's love." Crestfallen, she turns and walks disconsolately away.

At several key moments in the movie, Luther faces the charge that he is tearing apart the church. He grapples repeatedly with the possibility that he is destroying, rather than building, God's kingdom. To their credit, though, the filmmakers resist the temptation of portraying a Lone Ranger Reformer against a thoroughly evil Church. There are enough sympathetic figures in the Catholic establishment (Matthieu Carriere's Cardinal Cajetan chief among them) to create some sense of historical nuance.

Moreover, we get to see some warts of the Reformation. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Browse All Movie Reviews By:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThe Value of Friends Who Don’t Look, Think, or Vote Like You Do
Subscriber Access Only
The Value of Friends Who Don’t Look, Think, or Vote Like You Do
When you limit your social circles, you limit your opportunities to grow.
Current IssueClinton, Trump, or Neither? 3 Views on the 2016 Presidential Election
Subscriber Access Only
Clinton, Trump, or Neither? 3 Views on the 2016 Presidential Election
Ron Sider, James Dobson, and Sho Baraka make the best Christian case for each choice.
TrendingResearch Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
Research Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
A study of 250 congregations suggests that youth and young adults want substance rather than style.
Editor's PickOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Christianity Today
Luther
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.