Luther Movie Review

At the beginning of the movie Luther is performing a ritual in which he blesses the bread which becomes the flesh of Christ and the wine which becomes the blood of Christ. In the process Luther appears to be not just watched but judged by his superiors, and maybe is this pressure or Luther’s own insecurities in himself that led him to spill the wine. This is extremely shunned upon because Luther as a priest must follow these sacred rituals and perform them with no mistake, a small mistake could take away the sacredness of the ritual and demonstrate Luther’s own incapabilities of doing his work. Still with doubt in his mind and heart Luther visits Rome and in this trip to the so-called Axis Mundi of Catholicism he witnesses the reality of what goes on in his religion. Luther is shocked by the people in the streets fighting over theft, prostitutes seducing men and how Rome is basically a spectacle of people living their lives no way in regards to God’s wish. Luther is not only shocked but feels a sort of awakening inside of him, a realization that what is going on is very wrong and that this cannot be all there is to Catholicism. The indulgences are important to the people because they are a way for them to feel like they have a way to repent from their sins and still reach salvation. This ritual can be seen as a coping mechanism in which people feel liberated from the sins they have committed and avoid a bigger punishment from God. Along the same lines are the importance of relics like the head of John the Baptist since they represent something for the people and it reminds them of the reality of their religion. However, both of these can be problematic since people can take advantage of indulgences and pay their way out of their sins just like how the in Rome they had turn the site of John the Baptist’s head into a museum like place in which people can only take one look and then leave. In both cases these two symbols are still sacred yet they are been exploited which leads to them loosing their authenticity.

During the scene where Luther is burying the boy who had committed suicide, you can see all the people standing outside the closed gates of the cementary and watching as Luther dug the grave himself. This important ritual in Catholicism represents a persons last home on earth as their soul goes to heaven with God, but since the boy had committed suicide the people did not agree with him being buried where other innocent men are. To this Luther reacts by saying that this boy is not to blame and that he has overtaken by the Devil himself and that if God is mercy then we should all have mercy for him. And as Luther performs the rituals for a deceased, people watch in silence but also no one tries to stop him or revolt against his actions, instead they all silently agree to the ritual being done. Luther later on in the movie states that “salvation outside the Church but no salvation outside Christ”  because the practices of the Church itself to him are only ways of collecting peoples money and taking advantage of their innocence by feeding them lies of salvation when all they are doing is becoming more poor by giving all their money. This obviously hurts the Catholic church since they are “loosing customers” since people are starting to realize they don’t need a big institution to mandate everything they must do, when they can repent their sins on their own and put their trust on God. Luther’s 95 thesis were his way of picking at every little mistake he has witness in the Catholic church and basically call them out in public for people to be aware of them as well. He states that why must money be such an incentive when God is a god of love and mercy rather than money. Indulgences was his main focus because he really did not believe in buying salvation from the Church, since this is something that must come from within or a good deed done with a true purpose.

Having one leader like the Pope can have its benefits in the communita, like creating a bigger sense of community and union since they are all underneath one same leader. On the other hand having only one leader that controls everything can also emulate a hierarchy in which only a certain type of class, usually a higher one, dictates what a person can and cannot do. This can cause a separation between those in charge and those who just follow the rules that are imposed onto them. Luther’s translation of the Bible was dangerous because it broke that barrier between those who were aware of the information and those who were not. This allowed people, the common people, to have the opportunity to interpret sacred text on their own and be able to have a more personal and deep connection with what they read without the need of a messenger or a third person telling them how to interpret the text. With people needing the Church less for such matters it creates a problem in the order of how things are. Some consequences of Luther’s interpretation are that it attacks that same order of things and allows the common people of Germany to read for themselves the word of God, no need of anyone else telling them how to interprate the text. This affects the Church because its giving more power to those who had none to begin with. The Church also fears that with more power the common people have the less power the Church itself has.

Luther believed that certain sacraments like indulgences do not follow the moral rules in the Catholic church and therefore he saw them as economical tools used by said church to lure people into given their money. This to Luther was very wrong because what can anyone assume about a system in which all you need is money in order to erase your sins. This can also be a way to keep the people coming back and keep them dependent of the church since the common people have no other way to look for salvation. The addition of money into this way of “saving your soul” makes the factor or actual penitence disappear since one cannot really tell if the person is sorry for the sin they have committed. “You are tearing the world apart!” is what Priest Johann Staupitz tells Luther and this is very true because by questioning the biggest institution and attacking its flaws and not only that but also revealing them to everyone, even the common poor people, allows for people to make their own opinions and decide if they want to keep supporting the system or not.

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