Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Stacy Keach, Patrick Magee, Hugh Griffith, Robert Stephens, Alan Badel
Director: Guy Green
In luther martin luthers condemnation of the catholic church & incitement of the protestant reformation become the last desperate acts of a brilliant but deeply troubled man of conscience who has run out of options. Studi... more »
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Love it or hate it.
Paul C. Stratman | Winona MN USA | 12/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some have called this movie "Luther according to Freud." Luther's struggles (spiritual and psychological) are the focus of this film, which was originally a stage play. It is true, Luther did have his struggles, but he also had his triumphs, which are not shown much in this movie. The whole film is done on one set, which gives the viewer a feeling of isolation. Keach does give an amazing performance as Luther the struggling monk and preacher. The ending is puzzling. Though a bit more bookish, the 1953 B/W classic "Martin Luther" gives a broader and more balanced view of his life. 2003's "Luther" with Joseph Fiennes should be out on DVD in Spring of 2004. That one is better yet!"
Well-made but with an unwelcome Freudian take on our hero
Jmark2001 | Florida | 12/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There have been at least three big screen productions of the life of Martin Luther. 1953: classic black and white Martin Luther as hero; 2004: Martin Luther as rebel; and this production with the excellently cast Stacy Keach as Luther the psychoanalyzed. Keach does a great job and this is well told. The problem is that the psychoanalyzing gets in the way and seems dated. It ends with a bewildered Luther unsure of himself. This is worth seeing but I think it will, with time, seem like the dated product of an age briefly (thankfully, because Freud was proven wrong on almost every point) obsessed with Freud. It is a good thing that a movie about Luther was not made during the sex revolution or we would have had to see this brilliant doctor of the church reduced to his sexual desires. Luther was a genius, a great man, a man of courage and integrity, a great Christian, and one of the most important figures in Western history and culture. Three movies about his life do not seem enough."
Vivid portrayal of Lutheran church founder & theologian
B.C. Scribe | Brooklyn Center, MN USA | 11/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Released in 1973 and all but forgotten now, thank goodness for Kino International who has rescued and revived this film on DVD. 'Luther' is the filming of a stage play written by renowned British playwright John Osborne, who is perhaps better known today for his oft-filmed and staged play 'Look Back In Anger'. 'Luther' was first produced for stage in England during 1962 featuring a young Albert Finney in the lead. It was then produced for Australian television in 1964 and the following year Britain produced the play as part of its TV series 'Play Of The Month'. The presentation seen here is by the American Film Theatre and is an excellent quality production. The entirety of the movie takes place on a single stage which changes appearances and locales throughout that make it fascinating to watch. The scene will slowly sweep to a different area of the castle and a new period of Martin Luther's life as a monk, and later as a theologian, develops naturally. The only disconcerting effect I found was how performers would exit a scene through an open door; as they walk away from the scene they are enveloped by a bright white light becoming blurry and soon non-existent. It doesn't seem necessary but it also isn't a distraction that will bother the viewer.
Stacy Keach gives a memorable and vigorous interpretation of the brilliant theologian Martin Luther. Keach was considered a rising star when cast in the film and indeed he has become a recognizable face in television and films, being known mainly for his portrayal of Mickey Spillane's pulp detective 'Mike Hammer'. Curiously he is the lone American actor amongst a gathering of British stage and film actors that includes Leonard Rossiter, Patrick Magee, Judi Dench and Julian Glover. Rossiter may be recognizable to most American viewers as the title character of the British TV series 'The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin'; he's excellent as Brother Weinand, a fellow monk who befriends Luther in his early days at the monastery. Patrick Magee is equally as good as Luther's father who is disappointed his genius son chose life as a monk over becoming a lawyer. Hugh Griffith, so memorable as Sheik Ilderim in 1959's 'Ben Hur', here plays the nasty and detestable John Tetzel who collects tithes for indulgences. Judi Dench, the only female in the movie, appears for a few brief scenes near the very end of the film playing Luther's wife. By far the most impressionable performance of the film among the supporting players belongs to Glover who plays a knight. He also serves as an onscreen narrator, a sort of Chorus, an implement borrowed from the plays of the Greek classical writers and Shakespeare as well. While 'Luther' is arguably an accurate portrait of the times it does succeed grandly as drama. It is difficult to say with any precision how all the details and matters leading up to the historical period known as the Reformation actually played out; nonetheless the actors here breathe life into their characters and we are soon swept away into those events. We are also reminded that many people were senselessly slaughtered during this dark era and that it wasn't just solely an individual's intellectual effort that forged a new direction in the history of the Christian church. Still, watching this film and realizing what a revolutionary Luther was I recall the often quoted famous line from Robert Browning's poem "Andrea Del Sarto": "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
As usual Kino did a fantastic job with the transfer to DVD. There are also several special features that come with the movie which include a half-hour documentary on how the play was transferred to screen and a brief but informative interview with one of the producers of the film. The special feature I most enjoyed was the inclusion of the playbill given out at the play's premiere in England. It is reproduced here in stills that are easily readable and just as easy to page through with your DVD player. A biography of the playwright John Osborne is an addition that I found educating; I discovered some interesting facts about the mid-20th century history of the theater stage in England.
Worth noting: the British actor Tom Baker who is world renowned for his turn as the fourth doctor in the legendary 'Dr. Who' television series makes a brief uncredited appearance as Pope Leo X. Don't blink or you just might miss him!"
Steven Hellerstedt | 09/22/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"LUTHER is the first American Film Theater (AFT) movie I've seen, and, according to the extras on this disk - especially a twenty minute interview with one of the producers - it's pretty representative of the dozen or so films put out in its two years of existence.
Stacy Keach plays the 16th century German monk turn church reformer in the 1973 big-screen adaptation of playwright John Osborne's LUTHER. The play follows the career of Luther from troubled novitiate to a questioning and critical priest to a somewhat settled old age. Osborne's LUTHER is a character study rather than a hard-edged chronicle of great events. That's not to say that LUTHER ignores totally the swirl of history surrounding the title character. Indeed, the play includes indulgence-selling priests and a diet in Worms met to insist that he, Luther, recant of his heresies. They're here in service of history and, more immediately, to provide the cause for Luther's rebellion.
And there's the rub. There's an intimacy to LUTHER that I'm sure works better on my five-inch Philco than it did on the big screen. Just as I'm sure it worked much better on the live stage. Although in a contemporary (2002) videotaped interview Edie Landau argues convincingly the merits of making movies out of stage plays, the results are mixed. The wife and business partner of the American Film Theatre founder Ely Landau, Edie Landau's 26-minute videotaped interview is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the AFT and the novel `subscription' concept that allowed them to film almost a dozen plays in its two-year existence. For all the highbrow appeal of an examination of the inner Luther, and even the strong performances by the cast, especially Keach, film demands action, while live theater rewards introspection. LUTHER is interesting, although not terribly involving. Paradoxically, although I haven't much desire to watch the movie again I would be the first in line if LUTHER is ever revived as a live stage play,