Won at 2018 ICVM Awards
Martin Luther triggered a seismic upheaval that rocked the western world in the 1500s—with an impact that continues to reverberate to this day. The great drama of Martin Luther’s life comes alive in this vivid portrayal of the penniless monk’s quest for truth—a quest that would re-shape the church, and the world. Perhaps the most faithful movie about Luther’s life ever made, the film does not shy away from the deep theological questions—and answers—that mark Luther as one of the most influential people of the last thousand years.
Of the recent faith-based documentaries about Martin Luther, director David Batty’s A Return to Grace: Luther’s Life and Legacy—narrated by Hugh Bonneville—is a particularly striking effort to present the 16th-century disrupter of sin-obsessed Christianity in a warmly human light. The film offers a balanced hybrid of insights by experts and compelling dramatic re-creations of scenes of Luther’s life from childhood to death. Viewers will see the young Luther wrestling with the problem of sin and out-of-reach absolution in Catholic doctrine. Over the ensuing years, Luther experiences a series of epiphanies that lead him to believe the Church has things backward: it’s not that we have to make ourselves perfect (impossible) for God, but rather that God gave us Jesus so that we can partake of a love that is waiting for us. As much personal as theological, A Return to Grace also features scenes of conflict between Luther and his father, as well as a sequence in which Luther meets his wife-to-be, happily raises a family, and is his wife’s partner in helping victims of a plague outbreak. So, while all of the usual history is covered—from Luther being declared a heretic to the outbreak of wars between Lutheran sects—this film excels in sharing the lesser-known details of Luther’s life. Highly recommended. Aud: H, C, P. (T. Keogh)
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