Martin Luther, Heretic

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Martin Luther, Heretic
Directed byNorman Stone
Written byWilliam Nicholson
Produced byDavid M. Thompson
StarringJonathan Pryce
Maurice Denham
Hugh Dickson
John Nettleton
Clive Swift
Hugh Laurie
CinematographyKeith Hopper
Edited byPauline Dykes
Music byRoger Limb
Distributed byBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Family Films
Concordia Films
Release dates
  • 8 November 1983 (1983-11-08) (U.K.)
  • 10 November 1983 (1983-11-10) (U.S.)
Running time
70 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States

Martin Luther, Heretic is a 1983 film made to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther. It was released on 8 November 1983 in the United Kingdom, two days before the 500th jubilee on 10 November. It starred Jonathan Pryce as Martin Luther. Maurice Denham reprised his role of Johann von Staupitz that he played in the 1973 American Film Theater film Luther. The time frame of the film is 1506-1522: the beginning of Luther's monastic vocation to his return from exile at the Wartburg in 1522. A medieval dramatic troupe's performances of mystery plays provide the unifying motif for a parallel telling of the story of the film. When Luther's carriage en route from the Wartburg to Wittenberg it is shown passing an actor wearing a devil's mask. When this scene is revisited at the end of the film, the actor slips this mask off his face.

Historical inconsistencies[edit]

Some[who?] could interpret the portrayal of Martin Luther returning to Wittenberg, which occurred in early 1522, as his approving of the radical changes instigated by Andreas Karlstadt the year before. However, historically, Luther opposed some of the changes as well as the rashness of the changes he did approve of. The movie makes the out-break of the radical changes the instigation of his return thus implying, probably rightly, the need he felt to moderate them. He preached his "Invocavit Sermons" against this radical reform in Wittenberg, and he had some of the changes rolled back.[citation needed]


External links[edit]