cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy


Click for full sized poster

Luther

Starring Joseph Fiennes, Alfred Molina, Jonathan Firth, Peter Ustinov, Bruno Ganz
Screenplay by Camille Thomasson, Bart Gavigan
Directed by Eric Till
website: www.lutherthemovie.com

IN SHORT: Depending on your background and historical religious training, 90% of a slam dunk epic. [Rated PG-13 for disturbing images of violence. 121 minutes]

We've reached the point in our life where we've been challenged to explain to the kidlets why studying history is fun. If you've had the standard, memorize a lot of names and places and dates education, your eyes are already rolling back in their sockets. We say "Martin Luther." You respond "95 Theses nailed to the door of a church kicked off the Protestant Reformation." If you said "Dead black guy we get a holiday for." you've still got a couple of years before high school graduation. Or pay attention

Picture a world where a secretive body controls the hearts and minds of the common people; whose Rules and Doctrines and common communicative language is one that only the powerful and highly educated can understand; whose lust for money extends to a practice of virtual blackmail – pay up or sentence your soul and the souls of all your family to burn in hellfire forever.

Martin Luther (Joseph Fiennes) lived in a time when religion was more valued than science -- else he would have known that anyone stuck in an open field during a lightning storm should hug the dirt, rather than stand up as a human lighting rod. In Luther's case, a bargain with God to save him from the lightning led to the eating of the dirt and thus the law student packed it in to become a monk. In the 16th century that's a miracle story. Roll with it.

Because of his highly educated status and background in things legal, Luther is sent to Rome. He finds a city filled with prostitutes catering to the monks and by vendors selling authentic relics and medallions and other trinkets with religious power. The most expensive of 'em all are Church authorized "indulgences," the equivalent of "get out of Hell, cheap" passes. Rome not being the place for an up and coming scholar, Luther is sent to teach at a new University in Wittenberg (Germany).

You don't need to know any of the philosophical underpinnings of the Church to follow the politics. Corruption is corruption and greed is plain as day.

The Pope, Leo XII (Uwe Ochsenknecht), determined to raise cash for the rebuilding of St. Peter's basilica, authorizes the hard selling Johann Tetzel (Alfred Molina) to pitch so-called "special" indulgences, seemingly a one time only opportunity to save (your) beloved dead parents from burning in hell. Luther takes offense and puts his objections in writing -- the famous 95 Theses nailed to the church door. Thanks to a wondrous invention called Gutenberg's printing press, Luther's written objections are spread far and wide. The Church does not approve. The Inquisition summons the monk and, knowing full well that the summoning means Death, the local royals protect the young man. The best protection comes from the most powerful, Prince Frederick the Wise (Sir Peter Ustinov) who, when Luther refuses to recant in front of a Church court convened on the local turf, helps rally all the men of influence to protect the kid.

But the difficult choice to make, when adapting a life story to the two hour movie format, has always been whether to dramatize a series of greatest moments from that life or try to select the moments that tell the best narrative story and relegate all else to background material. Luther makes the assumption that we know the history and so links the high points in his life without showing much of the effects on the world around those events. This is also a budgetary problem since, unknown to us, thousands of people died in revolts against the church or royals backed by the church, something left out of our Cliff Notes style American education. Without that basic knowledge of the history (we can also blame it on the wrong kind of Sunday School) all the elements of epic are present and most of the faces tend to look the same. This becomes a great problem when the story shifts from religious argument to political alliances in the second half, with Luther a fugitive from Church justice. His work at that time-- to translate the New Testament from Latin to German so that all could see just how the Church was ripping them off -- is the stuff of dramatic revolution.

More to the plus side, Luther does not play out like the kind of documentary that bores kidlets silly and it has much more meat on its bones than any of the made for TV Biography programs seen on A&E.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Luther, he would have paid . . .

$6.50

If you come from a Protestant background, you should find Luther to be a masterpiece. We watch from the dramatic end, and for us Luther comes pretty damned close to the same. You get more if you've got the background burned into you before seeing the story.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Eric Till
Click to buy films starring Joseph Fiennes
Click to buy films starring Peter Ustinov
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.