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Luther the young rebel.,
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This review is from: Luther [DVD] (2003) (DVD)
This is one of the best historical dramas that I have seen in many a long year. It is almost as fine a film as "A Man for All Seasons". The hero here is the man that the great Catholic statesman Thomas More detested so much; the founder of the Protestant movement, Martin Luther.
The film opens with Luther, weeping with terror at finding himself exposed to a thunderstorm whilst traveling alone at night in the midst of the countryside, beseeching the aid of St Anne and promising, in return, to become a monk. This he does, to the disgust of his father, who had scraped and borrowed money to get his son educated as a lawyer. Luther, obsessed with his own human failings and his all-enveloping sense of sin, feels that he cannot ever do enough to rid himself of his self-disgust and merit the forgiveness of God. Sent to Rome as an emissary of his monastic order Luther is horrified to discover that Rome, the city of the Pope, is rife with corruption and that some of the most corrupt persons there are the leaders of his Church.
The rot sets in. He begins to doubt. Luther is sent off by the head of his monastery to study and become a Church divine. The hope is that his doubts will be stilled. His studies though make even more doubts arise in his mind -- then he encounters the practice of the sale of indulgences - said indulgences being hawked by a venal and arrogant officer of the Church. Luther cannot take any more of this; writes up his 95 theses and nails them to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, for all who can read to see --- The revolt begins -- and spreads.
The film does not back away from showing how Luther's call for reform was taken up and altered, to suit their own ends, by a number of thinkers and would-be leaders who sought to out-Luther Martin Luther and preached a vision of reform that could not and would not be realised without violence and mayhem. Nor does it seek to hide the fact that Luther, appalled by what has done in his name, called for violence to be inflicted upon the violent - if they did not follow him - thus beginning the wars of religion that wracked Europe for generations to come. The film sets are magnificent, wonderfully colourful and the costumes worn by the actors are extraordinarily accurate. (I studied the period for my degree - I was amazed to see the costumes that I had seen in reproductions of paintings and woodcuts there on the screen before me.) Joseph Fiennes is an impressive and utterly credible young Luther, heading up a cast of impressive stature, all of whom acquit themselves well.
It was a pleasure to see the late Sir Peter Ustinov in the role of the Elector Frederick. He is only present in a few scenes but steals each and every one that he plays a part in. The special features are, alas, not up to much. There are a few very bitty interviews with the chief players and the heads of the production team that made the film, but these are short and very badly edited. Some of them actually start part of the way through a spoken sentence. Still, all in all, a very good and entertaining film ;two hours slipped by quickly and enjoyably. Given that and the price Amazon is charging for the DVD at the moment I would class this as a bargain of a DVD that should not be allowed to slip through anyone's fingers.