Luther Eric Gill

Luther Eric Gill
This frankly hagiographic life of Martin Luther — monk, teacher, heretic and architect of the Reformation — isn't really the stuff of cinema; it's more a teaching aid suitable for your church youth group or bible study circle, and to that end stops well short of riling delicate sensibilities. The eponymous hero (Joseph Fiennes) did his best to make himself ecclesiastical persona non grata: sick of the corruption in Rome and appalled by its attempts to soak the commoners for every cent, he defied the authority of the Pope, challenged the veracity of church politics, wrested the Bible from of the hands of the priests and placed it into those of the laymen. His revolution changed the Western world forever, making this respectfully bland production all the more disappointing. Everything is so subdued that nothing really sticks: the Holy Roman villains are out of some threadbare Masterpiece Theatre reject and the alleged cesspool of Rome seems about as decadent as the public library. There isn't a single interesting shot or well-written line in the whole thing, which seems to have been done out of duty rather than love — craft seems to be beneath the higher purpose of the enterprise. One doesn't expect fireworks from a film funded by a Lutheran investment firm (or directed by the auteur of Red Green's Duct Tape Forever), but really, if the Catholics can have their Mel Gibson, the Protestants should at least be able to come up with a Paul Schrader. Included on the disc are underwhelming interviews with Fiennes and fellow cast members Sir Peter Ustinov, Alfred Molina and Claire Cox (obtusely divided up into subjects accessed by a menu); the film's trailer rounds out the package. (MGM)