Martin Luther

1854. Martin Luther (1953-USA). With Niall MacGinnis Directed by IRVING Pichel. A Louis De Rochemont production. This exceptional biographical drama is most effective both as a simple, straightforward drama and an instructive look at a key chapter in the history of religion, it portrays the various events which led to the Protestant Reformation during the 16th Century, with a focus on the life of Martin Luther (nicely played by veteran character Niall MacGinnis), the Catholic priest whose demand for reform within the church instigated the movement. Luther is first shown as a young law student who decides to quit school and enter a monastery. His steadfast devotion to learning, service and praying is punctuated by the different occurrences, which result in his decision to break from a church, which demands an “unquestioning obedience of its people.” In the film’s dramatic highlight, Luther is tried before the Diet of worms, and is condemned as a heretic. “Unless you can convince me by scripture, and not by Popes or councils who often contradicted each other,” Luther declares, “I am bound to my beliefs by the text of the bible. My conscience is captive to the word of God.” Eventually, he marries, and devotes himself to further the Protestant cause. This meticulously researched film was financed by an organization called Lutheran Church Productions, comprised of six religious groups. It was shot on location in West Germany, where many of the events actually took place. This is no surprise as the film was produced by Louis de Rochemont, who during the 1940’s pioneered the incorporation of on-location shooting into Hollywood scenarios lhat were semi-documentary, based-on-fact dramas. Director Irving Pichel also was a noted character actor; watch for him in a supporting role as Brueck. 105 minutes. Religious Drama