Martin Luther Reviews
Good music, recognizable shots of the landscape and settings, and some nice historical details informed by such personages as Jaroslav Pelikan stand out.
The opening, Luther's farewell party - correctly showing him giving his lute away - seems at first like a strange choice given expectations of a rendition of the thunderbolt story, but turns out to be an effective way to introduce key characters and set the scene. I find it useful to compare this film to the to the recent 2003 "Luther." I find that film is not as emotionally engaging and seems to show less of Luther's fiery yet captivating personality, and the use of a narrator gives it a much more detached, documentary-reenactment-like feel. But at the same time, it also utilizes less creative license, which can potentially bother viewers of the newer "Luther," which relies on some imagination to give a more powerful impression of personalities. More narration in this version means less that the drama and acting is responsible for conveying. This is arguably good for restraining exaggeration, but may also remove dramatic challenges and with them, dramatic depth. Yet for all its seriousness, there are moments of wit: When Katharine pointedly refuses to marry two potential husbands, Martin's reply is, "Don't look at me like that!" The film's historical treatment does, however, bother me at one point: my understanding is that Vicar General Johann von Staupitz was noticably more helpful and sympathetic than he seems in this movie, though he certainly had his points of disagreement. Given Luther's respect and affection for the man, it would have been rewarding to see his character, who had a good deal of screen time, more fleshed out.