Lutheran Worship and Resources

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Two Martin Luther Films - One Is Free - The Other Is $2 Rental

This is not my favorite, but some people want to review the Reformation - and this is handy.


The "original" one - the great one - can be rented from Amazon for live-streaming.

Martin Luther 

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews) |
The dramatic black and white classic film of Martin Luther's life made in the 1950s.
  • Starring: Niall MacGinnis, John Ruddock
  • Directed by: Irving Pichel
  • Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes
  • Studio: Louis De Rochemont Associates

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Martin Luther (1953)

THE SCREEN: TWO FILMS MAKE DEBUT; Niall MacGinnis Is Starred in the Presentation of 'Martin Luther' at Guild Theatre Ernest Gann's 'Island in the Sky' Bows at the Paramount -- John Wayne Takes Lead

Published: September 10, 1953

A tough and unusual subject has been squarely and intelligently embraced in the film called "Martin Luther," which opened at the Guild yesterday. This subject is the classic intellectual and theological clash of the great sixteenth century German preacher with the Holy Roman Church. That clash was pitched on a level of high scholarship, to be sure, and the devious intellectual detail of it has been patiently laid down in this film. But the tensions of personal drama involved in the spiritual change that came over Martin Luther are indicated in it, too. The result is a brilliant demonstration of strongly disciplined emotions and intellects.
In any responsible handling of a subject such as this, there must be a great deal of discourse, which is perilous to the playing of a film. And diso??? there is, be???nd question, in his fully responsible job. Martin Luther was a thinker and a talker and then a writer, too, and the product of his mental activity was the gunpowder of his career.

Studious Dramatization
And so, in this studious dramatization of a decisive episode in human history, which has been produced by Louis de Rochemont Associates under the particular supervision of Lothar Wolff — and in cooperation, be it added, with the Lutheran Church Productions, Inc. — an actor who plays Martin Luther, Niall MacGinnis, begins talking almost at the start and either he or someone else is talking, virtually all the time, right to the end.

There are Luther's supposed conversations, first with his law student friends and then with the vicar of the holy order into which he enters in search of peace for his soul. There is his historic disputation at Leipzig with Dr. John Eck, out of which he is branded a heretic for challenging the sale of indulgences by the Roman Church. And finally, there is his bold appearance before Charles V at the Diet of Worms, at which time he refused to recant his doctrine of the individuality of man's faith and thundered his famous defiance, "Here I stand. I can do no other."

A Splendid Performance
Talk there is—plenty of it—but it is such clear and cogent talk, reflecting the fundamental conflicts of the churchmen and statesmen of the times, and it is done with such forceful delivery and in such well-staged and well-assembled scenes that it commands intelligent attention and stimulates the mind. And, in doing this, it develops a sense of passion and power.

Certain famous and memorable stories of Martin Luther's career are conspicuous by their absence from this picture — such as the story that Luther's questioning was inspired by his shock and grief when his best friend was killed in an electrical storm, or the story of his flinging an inkwell at the devil. There is little evidence, too, of the social and economic conflicts that were raging in Germany in Luther's time and which made the Reformation movement virtually inevitable. The history of Luther's challenge is here told in personal terms.

Thanks to a splendid performance by Mr. MacGinnis, under the direction of Irving Pichel, a man of strong will and ardent nature is portrayed in the title role. This Martin Luther is a titan, full of courage and integrity. And he is set off by men of equal fibre, as revealed in supporting roles. John Ruddock is personally temperate but intellectually severe as the Vicar von Staupitz, and Philip Leaver is sharp and cynical as Pope Leo X. Pierre Lefevre as Luther's good friend, Spalatin; David Horne as Duke Frederick of Saxony, Guy Verney as Melanchton and many others are fine and credible.

The settings and production, too, are excellent. The picture was filmed entirely in various parts of Western Germany and in the Weisbaden studios. As a fair and dignified re-enactment of history, it could hardly be surpassed. As an impress of personal drama, it applies powerful pressure to the mind.

MARTIN LUTHER, screen play by Allan Sloane and Lothar Wolff; directed by Irving Pichel. Produced by Lothar Wolff for Louis de Rochemont Associates in conjunction with Lutheran Church Productions and Luther-Film-Gesellschaft M. B. H. Released by Louis de Rochemont Associates. At the Guild Theatre.
Martin Luther . . . . . Niall MacGinnis
Vicar von Staupitz . . . . . John Ruddock
Spalatin . . . . . Pierre Lefevre
Melanchthon . . . . . Guy Verney
Carlstadt . . . . . Alastair Hunter
Duke Frederick, Elector of Saxony . . . . . David Horne
Prior . . . . . Fred Johnson
Pope Leo X . . . . . Philip Leaver
Cardinal Aleander, Special Emissary of Pope Leo X . . . . . Dr. Egon Strohm
Tetzel . . . . . Alexander Gauge
Brueck . . . . . Irving Pichel
Emissary . . . . . Leonard White
Charles V. Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire . . . . . Hans Lefebre
Katherine von Bora . . . . . Annette Carrell

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