Re-viewing Luther

Today I re-watched Luther again and I noticed that once upon a time I wrote about it. In fact, it was among the very first posts in this blog, where I was living in Germany, enjoying my daily dose of bratwurst. So it is interesting, indeed, to see how much (or how little) I have changed since then, be it for my writing style or my actual impression of the movie itself.

(Honestly, I am a little bit embarrassed about the way I wrote back then, but I guess that’s the point of growing up.)

So, some comments regarding the film:

1. I guess it portrayed pretty accurately why Luther was finally able to break Rome’s domination. All factors seem to align nicely: the ripe age of humanism (which prized independent minds; Luther was a liberal in the classical, Renaissance sense of the word), the invention of printing press, the immense corruption of the church, and the rise of German nationalism.

2. I am pretty convinced that the people supported Luther because Luther symbolized the German struggle of independence against Rome. I don’t want to give an impression that I am disparaging the peasants, though. And, to put it bluntly, the German Bible is a sign of revolt against Rome.

3. The sad thing about Thomas Cajetan (an Italian cardinal who was the Pope’s legate to Wittenberg) is because he was a contemporary of Luther, he was basically ignored by Protestants to this day, although he, in his own right, is a legit theologian. That’s why I think the film got it right when it presented Cajetan as a figure who was actually sympathetic for Luther as a theologian, but his ecclesial/political position made his opposition to Luther inevitable.

4. I wonder whether the film could be made better if Melanchthon was given more prominent role in the development of the plot. He seemed to be very side-lined in the film. Indeed, you can’t really tell which one was Melanchthon in the film. The clearest hint was in the final Diet of Augsburg scene. I think you could find him there. You can’t miss the hat.

5. Indeed, there are some historical idiosyncracies/inaccuracies in the film. Did Luther really walk on the aisle when he preached? Honestly, I have no idea about this, but I guess in general the preacher would speak from the risen pulpit. Of course, the representation wanted to symbolically present Luther as a popular preacher, the people’s preacher.

Now you realize how much I have changed since I first watched (and blogged) the movie.


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