Luther (2003)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Joseph Fiennes, Peter Ustinov, Alfred Molina, Claire Cox, Bruno Ganz
Extras: Interviews, Trailer

With the European production ’Luther’ the filmmakers tried to bring history to life and tell the story of Martin Luther, one of the key reformers of Christianity in the 1500s. What started with disdain for the exploitation of its followers, Martin Luther got to the point that he could no longer tolerate the practices of the Roman Church which only served to enrich the rich and exploit the poor by making them pay for the forgiveness of their God. Quickly his radical new views make him a lot of enemies and when Luther nails his 97 thesis’ on the door of his church little does he know that his new views would change history forever and crumble the established political structure in Middle-Europe. He becomes the target of the Vatican and the King of Germany, but also the hero of the common people, and ultimately one of the most respected innovators of Christianity.

Filled with anger, agony, self-despair, Joseph Fiennes plays Martin Luther as a level-headed character who will not back down even when threatened with violent death. His performance is the center of this wonderful period film that tries to remain as historically accurate as possible. What I found most intriguing about the movie is the fact how it finally makes this piece of history tangible. Luther is no longer just a name in a history book, a guy who did something 500 years ago. Here we get to see the entire context the politicking and more importantly the man behind the name, with real emotions and goals, and the violent consequences of his doing.

MGM is presenting ’Luther’ in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio in a transfer that is enhanced fro 16×9 TV sets. The image is clean and free of blemishes and also reveals a good level of detail. The image is a bit dark at times, but it nicely serves the dank, medieval atmosphere of the film during a period where oftentimes light was a luxury and not a commodity. Black levels are solid and nicely balanced by highlights that never bloom. Color reproduction is faithful, rendering this film as natural-looking as possible with faithful skin tones. No edge-enhancement distracts from the viewing pleasure and the compression is also without artifacts.

The DVD contains an English and Spanish audio track in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital that further enhances the experience with its wide sound field and good surround usage. Bass extension is solid and high ends are free of distortion or sibilance. The movie features a great score that is also represented perfectly in this mix with a sound stage that is wide and finely reproduces the timbers of the instruments and voices.

As extras the DVD contains a few super-brief interview clips as well as the movie’s trailer.

’Luther’ is a great film that brings history to life in an entertaining and gripping manner. Great performances by the cast, which includes Sir Peter Ustinov, Alfred Molina, Claire Cox, Bruno Ganz and Matthieu Carriére among many others, make this film a wonderful experience. I give this release all my thumbs up and highly recommend it!