On Feb. 2, 2016, me and my classmates spent the entire class watching the PBS film “Martin Luther” narrated by none other than Liam Neeson. What was great about the film in particular was the sheer amount of background information on the not so humble beginnings of Martin Luther.
Previous to watching the film, my knowledge on this iconic person was limited to his works such as the 95 Thesis and his distaste for the practice of selling indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. After watching the film in its entirety, I have a profound respect for the trials and troubles that Martin Luther endured throughout his life.
One of the first things that caught my attention in the film was how strict and fierce Martin Luther’s parents were on him. His father, Hans Luther, was a coppersmith and wanted his son to become a lawyer. Martin Luther offers an example of punishment he faced for disobedience:
” For the sake of stealing a nut, my mother once beat me until the blood flowed.”
Another mystery about Martin Luther that the film explained was on his epiphany that led him to devote his life completely to God. At the age of 23, Martin Luther was returning to Erfurt after visiting his family when he was caught in a nasty thunderstorm. Nobody knows exactly what happened to Martin Luther on that faithful night, but his words offer a glimpse into his situation:
” Suddenly surrounded by the terror and agony of death, I felt constrained to vow myself to God.”
What surprised me the most about the film was how quickly Martin Luther’s opinion on the people who took his 95 Thesis to heart and began to lash out in violence once his work spread through the lands like wildfire. The first sparks of revolution started in Wittenberg, Germany where monks and nuns alike began to leave the order while priests abandoned their sacred vows to get married. Nothing entails his thoughts on the peasantry better than his remorseless prose directed at them:
” One has to be hard with them and see that under the threat of the sword, they comply with the law just as you chain up wild beasts.”
Overall the film provided an in-depth look at the life of Martin Luther and shed much light into the gaps of his early and later life. Although he did not foresee how his works would shake the very foundation of the Roman Catholic Church and galvanize the people to act, some would argue that the future would have been very different if it had not happened.