Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA/West Germany, 1953. RD-DR Productions, The Lutheran Church in America, Luther Filmgesellshaft, Louis De Rochemont Associates. Screenplay by Theodore G. Tappert, Jaroslav Pelikan, researched and prepared for the screen by Allan Sloane, Lothar Wolff. Cinematography by Joseph C. Brun. Produced by Lothar Wolff. Music by Mark Lothar. Production Design by Paul Markwitz, Fritz Maurischat. Costume Design by Herbert Ploberger. Film Editing by Fritz Stapenhorst. Academy Awards 1953.
Martin Luther was a sixteenth century monk who did some deep soul-searching in his Biblical studies and realized that the Catholic church was promoting practices that went against scripture. His 95 Theses, in which he promoted the sovereignty of Christ and his sacrifice and not the power of the Vatican, brought him to trial before the Pope, but his steadfast nature kept him strong and eventually led to the forming of the Protestant religion. This extremely sober drama is intelligent, respectful and completely supportive of Luther’s rebellion; unfortunately, it’s so devoted to the idea that he was a saint that it paints his portrait without a single shred of colour, and as such the film is incredibly boring. Niall MacGinnis seems stifled in the lead role, while the rest of the cast just comes off stuffy.