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Monday, November 03, 2003

Luther - 4 stars

We saw this movie a couple week ago. Rated PG-13 for some images of dead people but certainly appropriate and educational for older kids.

The movie stars Joseph Fiennes who was in Shakespeare in Love, Enemy at the Gates, and Elizabeth.

It follows Luther from his conversion in 1507 during a thunderstorm through "The Great Peasant War" around 1530. They do a lot of short vignettes that cover his time at the monestary in Augsburg, his time as a student at the college in Wittenberg, when he became a professor at Wittenberg leading to the posting of the 95 theses in 1517. They then track a little more slowly through the Diet of Worms in 1521 ("here I stand, I can do no other"), his seclusion at Wittenberg writing the NT, and then fast forward again to the peasant revolts and the Augsburg confession in 1530 with Charles V.

I thought the movie was well acted and well done (Peter Ustinov as Fredrick the Wise of Saxony was particular good and provided the humor in the movie) although it could have been a little smoother in terms of the transitions and letting the viewer know what year it was. The actors never aged so sometimes it was hard to tell how long it had been since the previous scene.

In all, it seemed to be fairly accurate hitting all the hight points although it certainly compressed some of the events and although they tried to bring out the political context of the time, it would have been difficult to get all the intrigue in there without making it a longer and more boring movie.

I was most impressed by the accuracy of Luther's views towards papal indulgences and the mercy of God. They did not bring out Luther's more anti-semitic views since those came at the end of his life in the 1540s. They accurately portrayed Luther as totally against the peasant revolts but did not indict him for encouraging the slaughter of the peasants (which he did after the slaughter had already begun and then later condemned the landed class for their zeal).

All in all a good movie although it might be hard to find. We found it on one screen here in KC in our area. After the movie there were several little groups who stayed and discussed the film (all over 40 years old of course). We bumped into a couple from our church and did the same for a few minutes. Good stuff.

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