Martin Luther Movie Essay

Martin Luther Movie Essay

After watching the biography on Martin Luther, I found the majority of the movie to be portrayed somewhat accurately. The movie just isn't long enough to portray the story accurately, and therefore it feels not only unfinished but full of gaps. The story had to focus on the main details in order to really allow viewers to gather a better understanding of Martin Luther. Luther's mission is clear, but his purposes are so boiled down that only a few of his famous Theses are actually voiced in the movie. Martin Luther stated/ promised himself that if he were to get struck by lightening and lived, he would devote himself to God. Luther also translated the Bible into German to gain more awareness about church. He created the 95 Theses among all peasants to inform the public how the church has been taking complete advantage of the peasants. While Luther was on “trial” for his beliefs and views, he had admitted to writing the books as well as the 95 Theses. Lastly, Luther got his approval to read the concision of the Reformation by the Emperor. All of these events that took part in the movie, are somewhat accurate as Martin Luther experienced each and every one of them.

When Luther reached 21 years of age, he earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Erfurt. Luther’s father, Hans Luther, wanted the best education possible for his son. In May 1505, Luther was accepted to Law School in accordance with his father’s wishes. That very same year, Luther’s life took an unexpected turn. Traveling back to university from his parents’ home, Luther was caught in a horrible thunderstorm. Before he was almost hit from a bolt of lightening, he screamed out “Help me, St. Anne, and I’ll become a monk!” He escaped the lightening unharmed and stayed true to his word by entering the monastery within that same month. Luther took the monastic life extremely seriously and excelled at it. As he still feared the wrath of God, he confessed his sins approximately 20 times a day, he punished his body by sleeping on a cold concrete floor and performed his first Mass with a trembling hand. Like in the movie of Martin Luther, he punished himself multiple times as he would stay in his tiny room, forcing himself on the ground, and prayed to God. Compared to the actual facts based on Luther, you never actually saw him encounter a lightening bolt, forcing him into the monastic life. At the beginning of the movie, you saw Martin Luther confessing his sins to God and completing his first monastic duty in the church. During the start of the movie, it never clearly explained why Luther prayed to God so much, but after doing research, you find out that he fears the wrath of God and attempts to please him by praying.

The more Luther became more involved in the church, the more he became appalled at the abuse demonstrated by the church. He penned his 95 Theses against the practice of selling indulgences. On October 31, 1517, he nailed his Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, a very practical method of creating scholarly discussion. Luther’s points were all over Germany, sparking much interest and debates. Luther was extremely involved, proving to others his 95 Theses in front of many different crowds (peasants). Luther wanted to protest the sale and abuse of indulgences temporal penalty for sin-in exchange for money. This was approved by papal authority and made it available through accredited agents. In the movie you see Luther running frantically with a piece of paper, a hammer, and a nail where he begins to hammer his 95 Theses onto the church doors. This aspect of the movie was extremely accurate and true as Luther wanted to tell all peasants how unfair the Roman Catholic Churches were treating them. As seen in the movie, Priests would often make civilians pay if they wanted to know their future blessings or confess their sins to God. Knowing how wrong this was, Luther stopped at nothing to protest his beliefs and how the church can not make on pay, especially when it has to do with God. As a viewer, you knew that the Church and Priests attempted countless times to stop Luther from telling the peasants what the church is actually doing. They did this by threatening to imprison or even exile him, forcing Luther into hiding where he continued to advertise his beliefs and rights.

As Luther’s methods and ideas became more accepted by the peasants and community (excluding the Pope and High Monarchies in the Church) he began translating his Theses into German by using Gutenberg’s newly invented movable- type printing press. Once the Pope received a copy of Luther’s 95 Theses, he was awfully bitter and upset that a monk would question the Roman Catholic Church’s morals and beliefs. As a result of Luther’s Theses, he allowed the Augustinian order to deal with the situation. Luther was invited to the order’s next meeting, which occurred in April of 1518. Here he feared for his life as he knew he brought about new idealisms about Reformation. As Luther stuck by his beliefs, he found that many of his fellow friars agreed with him, giving him more hope about his work and teachings. Whereas in the movie, Luther remained in hiding for approximately one year where he began translating the bible into German. You see Luther in a cabin like home away from civilization, writing the “newly” translated Bible. He believed that most people thought that he just disappeared, where no one knew where he was or if he was even alive. But Luther continued to practice his beliefs and supported his 95 Theses, in order to inform the community and country about how unfair and unjust the church was being.

In October 1518, an Imperial Diet (a meeting of the Holy Roman Empire’s princes and nobles) was held in Augsburg. The Pope sent a representative to the meeting to meet and convince Luther to recant. Terrified and not entirely confident, Luther attended the meeting in the hopes of defending his views. The papal representatives Cardinal Cajetan showed no interest in debating Luther’s different viewpoints about the Catholic Church, rather to persuade him to recant. When Luther learned that he was to be arrested if he refused to deny his books and teachings, he escaped by night and returned to Wittenburg. Luther spent the next year developing his ideas, teaching, and writing. Luther received a papal bull (official proclamation from the Pope) stating that he would be excommunicated if he did not recant within 60 days. Emperor Charles V opened the Imperial Diet of Worms on January 22, 1521. Luther was summoned to renounce his views and was given an imperial guarantee of safe-conduct to ensure his safe passage. An assistant of Archbishop of Trier, acted as a spokesman for the Emperor, where he presented Luther with a table filled with copies of his writings. He questioned Luther whether or not the books were his and if he still believed what these works taught. Luther requested time to think about his answer, which was granted. When the counselor inquired that same question the next day, he stated, “They are all mine, but as for the second question, they are not all of one sort.” As he went on to explain more, he stated that some of his works were well received by even his enemies. Therefore he could not recant, as he could not encourage this form of abuse to continue on in the churches. Before reaching a decision, Luther left Worms and returned back to Wittenberg, where had disappeared and went into hiding. However, on May 25, 1521, the Emperor issued the Edict of Worms, stating that Martin Luther was an outlaw and a heretic and banned his literature. As shown in the movie, Luther had a meeting where he was to be convinced that his teachings were all false and inaccurate. The Pope’s main objective was to get Luther to recant all his idealisms and books, stating that he was wrong and that Roman Catholic churches were not doing anything wrong. You see Luther in his tiny room contemplating whether or not he will recant. In this scene it seems as though evil spirits possess him, where he talks to himself about the consequences of not recanting. He finally reaches his decision and when he arrives back in front of the Archbishop’s assistant, he did not recant. He knew that because of this, he would most likely be killed, so as soon as he told them his decision he quickly left and returned to Wittenberg and went into hiding. In the movie you know that all hell as broken loose as all of Luther’s books were banned and he was deemed a heretic.

After Luther’s disappearance, Prince Frederick arranged for Luther to be seized on his way from the Diet by masked horsemen (which was all planned), who carried him to Wartburg Castle at Eisenach, where he remained for about one year. As he lived in Wartburg, he began the constructive period of his career as a reformer. He began his translation of the Bible, which was printed in September 1522. He wrote a polemic against Archbishop Albrecht, forcing him to reopen the sales of indulgences; while his attack on Jacobus Latomus, he set forth his views on the relation of grace and the law. The movie only showed the masked horsemen coming to take Luther away, but it made it seem as though he was be taken away to be killed. What the audience did not realize was that this was all planned out by Prince Frederick. Once Luther was in hiding for approximately one year, he began the translation of the Bible. When he was done this, he did write the polemic against Archbishop Albrecht, making his reopen the sales of indulgences, allowing all of Luther’s books and teachings to be accepted.

As you can see, the movie was fairly accurate compared to Martin Luther’s biography. From the time where Luther had a close encounter with being struck by lightening, when he posted his 95 Theses on the Church doors, when he translated the Bible into German, when he admitted to writing his books on the Reformation, and lastly, when Luther went into hiding as a result of the Edict of Worms, but then was given permission by the Emperor to read the concision of the Reformation. After watching the movie and comparing it with the actual historical facts, I noticed that not everything was focused on in great detail, as the movie could not go on forever. The movie portrayed Luther as a kind man who was extremely religious and cared so much about his people. However, I found that Luther was actually very racist and thought that his “religion” was far more superior than Catholic or any other religion. He made many rude remarks about other cultures and faiths explaining that Christianity was the best. He was not a very open minded person, therefore driving him near the point of insanity when people did not believe his 95 Theses or points against the church.