Sunday, October 22, 2006

Luther (2003): What a great movie / actors are idiots

May I just make the timely recommendation of the recent movie Luther? Of course I can -- it's my blog!

Though I've read a couple of lives of Luther, I'm not historian enough to give a detailed analysis of its accuracy. I do know that I recognize many direct quotations, and that I think it does just a dandy job of bringing out the historical context and background, and featuring Luther's preaching of the Gospel. Very dramatic, very moving. We grownups experienced chills and tears, it held the eleven-year-old very interested, and even the seven-year-old was involved through most of it.

The PG-13 rating is for some violence and intensity (a suicide; the Peasants' Revolt and its aftermath).

And, unless you want to go for yet another footnote in the ongoing Actors Are Idiots saga, don't watch the interview with leading actor Joseph Fiennes. He plays Luther very well. He seems to understand the movie not at all. To him it's about minorities, repression, blah blah blah.

What matters is that the people who made the movie evidently understood what it was about, and that Fiennes did what they told him to do, and did it well. When he ran out of script, he should have run out of words. Or talked about something he knew -- I don't know... canapes, double-decker buses, fog?

On reflection, not a bad rule for most actors.

So that aside, I enthusiastically commend this movie to you at this Reformation season.


candyinsierras said...

We are having folks come over for a Reformation Celebration, but we are watching the old version. I have never seen it so am looking forward to it.

DJP said...

You're having a Reformation celebration too? Isn't it great?

I've seen the start of the older version, and it seemed quite good. Have you seen this version?

ThirstyDavid said...

We will be watching the 1953 pruduction at our house, which I have not yet seen.

I have one question about the 2003 film:

Does it really get to the real issues of the Reformation (doctrine: sola Scriptura, sola fide), or is it about the corruption and abuses of the Papal system?

DJP said...

I'd say yes: the real issues are set out.

You don't expect a general-release movie to be a course in Systematic Theology, but really the preaching of Christ, the grace of God, and the supremacy of Scripture, all are set out well, vividly, and in stark contrast to Rome.

ThirstyDavid said...

Thanks. I'll have to get that one now, too.

Libbie said...

Double-decker buses are great fun. Fog is quite fun too, we've had it aplenty in the last few days.

I have wanted to see this film for ages, I shall show Dh your review.

Tom Chantry said...

I grew up watching the old version at least once a year, either at Christian school or in church. It is magnificent. My favorite exchange:

"But Martin, if you take away all these "crutches" from Christians, what will you give them in their place?"

"I will give them CHRIST!"

Wonderful stuff. I've been afraid to watch the new version because I love the old so much.

Carla said...

Yay! Someone else who likes this dvd as much as I did. When it came out, we got it right away. I'm not as knowledgable on church history as I should be - but Kev is so I had to keep checking with him to make sure it was legit - he affirmed that it was, and gave it a two-thumbs up as well.

We were going to watch it again this year with the kids, but today our pastor invited all families "who do not celebrate Halloween" (his words) to an annual family event they call Halleluia Night, at a church nearby. Our kids have never been to any kind of formal "alternative" event on 10/31, so they're looking forward to a church event like this. I was especially pleased to hear the pastor say "if you want to dress up you can, but NO spooky costumes allowed, fear is not what we celebrate". Our kids wont be dressing up. (They're spooky enough without a costume, LOL, just kidding).

We'll be watching Luther for history that day, in school. :o) One of the many benefits of being the administrator of Rolfe Academy - I get to change things up at a moments notice.

candyinsierras said...

djp...i saw the new one, not the old one.

Anonymous said...

I really liked this movie, even though I thougt Joseph Fiennes was much too good-looking to play Luther.

Daniel said...

If one didn't understand how Luther's conversion was a conversion out of the vacuous, Catholic "works plus faith" counterfeit gospel and into the salvific and genuine, biblical gospel - the movie did little to shed light on that.

I was disappointed by that, but as Dan already pointed out - this movie was never intented to be a video version of someone's systematic theology.

So I liked the movie for its cinematography, its costumes, and even its acting and characters - but (because I am inclined this way I suppose) I was sorry to see "events" in Luther's history portrayed in a contextual vacuum - the resulting theological blur did nothing to clarify exactly what gave the greatest meaning to these same historical events that were being portrayed!

Anonymous said...

It is a great movie, well written, etc. Just don't watch it twice in a row, or you'll start to be distracted by the overabundance of voice looping.

DJP said...

You know, Daniel, I'm going to disagree respectfully.

Given that it's a movie, I really was impressed by how much doctrinal and historical context they wove in, without sacrificing the drama. Luther's own spiritual crisis, the role of Staupitz pointing him to Christ and the Word, the fact he'd not even read the Bible, what he learned in the Bible, the RC obsession with rites, rituals, externals... all that and more, very vividly there.