I have a good friend and coworker who occasionally approaches me with questions about the Catholic Church (she is Methodist.) Today she came to discuss the film “Luther” which she and her husband had recently watched. She would like me to watch it and share my opinion of how the Catholic Church is presented. I plan to watch the film as soon as I can, but I would like to know if there are some good references for me to read on the historical accuracy of how it presents the Church, the facts about Luther, etc.
From a Lutheran perspective, it is very good. But then, mine is a Lutheran perspective.
From what i have heard of the film, which was partuially funded by the Lutheran Church, it is a bit of a hagiography, which paints Luther as squeaky clean and presents the Catholics in caricatured bad-guy, sinister corrupted roles.
As far as I know it fails to cover, or glosses over things like
Luther’s hatred for Jews and calls for them to be burnt out and driven from Germany.
Luther’s violent temper and calls for Catholics to be killed.
Luther’s intervention in the peasant’s revolt, calling on the nobles to slay and massacre the peasants.
Luther’s deals with the nobility, allowing them to seize Church lands in return for protection, and his granting the landgrave of Hesse permission to take two wives.
Check how much of this is in the film…
I’m not sure which verion you’re talking about. I would supect the Joseph Fines one. Good movie. However, very bad on Catholics. The things described in the film did occure but like most movies it depicts the very worst. The Catholic church needed to have a shake up at that time but there were many catholics trying to do similar things as Luther but never left the church. The movie does a little refering to some of the emotional issues (psychological?) that Luther had (he would often “yell” at the Devil and through things at him). However, Luther was a person of extremes. It was a difficult time for Europe and Catholism. You will probably be asked about indulgenses, Penence, the Papacy, your stance on the bible, and a multitude of other things. The Catholics are not put in a good light at all and are presented as fear mongering money hounds. The wealth of the vatican will be attacked. And why (big issue for protestants) did the Catholics work so hard at keeping scriptures out of the hands of the common people. Does that help you? Hang on to your seat!
I saw this movie a little while back also, when I was a Protestant beginning to look into and enjoy my heritage.
I’m still in many ways all for Luther’s desire to reform the Church, but in all fairness, as has been pointed out, at the same period in time the Jesuits and later the Theatins were doing the same thing whilst remaining loyal to the Church.
Luther is presented as a bit immaculate, which is a shame because I would’ve found it easier to sympathize with a more honest, more human depiction–as Luther had his share of flaws: his indecisiveness, his lack of maturity, his stubborness, his anti-Semitism, his involvement in the Peasant Revolts, etc.
The picture it paints is just a bit too black and white: Catholics, bad; Protestants, good.
It deals with some important issues, but would’ve been nice to see a more honest depiction.
Also, while it was not at Martin Luther’s direct command (in fact that of the Duke of Bourbon), but in 1527 an army of Lutherans sacked Rome and completely vandalised it and stole robes for mock processions, let animals into the major Roman Churches and took the Pope hostage for a ransom, after threatening to eat him. This was encouraged by Martin Luther’s teaching that it was necessary for salvation to oppose Rome with all your might
This is also an excellent resource for the Catholic perspective as well:
This is full of interesting information about Luther’s influence.
Thanks! This is exactly what I was hoping to find.
It also has one brief scene in which Luther is struggling against the devil. It doesn’t mention that his life was packed with experiences with the devil, through and through. He wrote that he went to bed at night with his wife on one side of him and the devil on the other. Many Protestants don’t know about this, and the movie doesn’t enlighten them.
They also don’t mention in the movie Luther that Luther wrote that he couldn’t say the Lord’s Prayer without cursing the papacy and the Catholic Church after every line. He was unable to help himself. His opponents said that they saw devils in his eyes, and his own words talking about how he couldn’t pray without cursing the papacy and sometimes couldn’t go to bed without the devil sleeping with him imply that they weren’t simply wielding rhetoric.
Luther called all other Protestant denominations hell-spawn and rejoiced at the death of Zwingli, one of the major leaders of the Reformation. He called for the annihilation of the Anabaptists, just like the Catholics did, and he called for Catholics to be killed.
None of this is in the movie, obviously.
The real man Luther, as I read about him from his own supporters’ writings and from history, creeps me out. The movie “Luther” belongs in the trash. See it if you must, bpsblackbelt, so that you can talk about it intelligently with others. I saw it, and I can’t stand it now because of its consistently and massively false portrayal of history.