Martin Luther (1953)

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Martin Luther is a 1953 film biography of Martin Luther. It was directed by Irving Pichel, (who also plays a supporting role), and stars Niall MacGinnis as Luther. It was produced by Louis de Rochemont and RD-DR Corporation in collaboration with Lutheran Church Productions and Luther-Film-G.M.B.H.

The National Board of Review named the film the fourth best of 1953. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Cinematography (Black-and-White) (Joseph C. Brun) and Art Direction/Set Decoration (Fritz Maurischat, Paul Markwitz). The music was composed by Mark Lothar and performed by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. It was filmed in studios in Wiesbaden, West Germany.

A notice at the beginning of the film characterizes it as a careful and balanced presentation of Luther's story: "This dramatization of a decisive moment in human history is the result of careful research of facts and conditions in the 16th century as reported by historians of many faiths." The research was done by notable Reformation scholars Theodore G. Tappert and Jaroslav Pelikan who assisted Allan Sloane and Lothar Wolff.

The time frame of the film is 1505-1530: Luther's entrance into the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt to the presentation of the Augsburg Confession. It recounts Martin Luther's struggle to find God's mercy: his discovery of the gospel in Romans 1:17, the posting of the Ninety-five theses, and the subsequent controversy, which led to Luther's being separated from the church of Rome. It shows Luther's resistance to the forces of radicalism, and his work to establish and maintain the evangelical movement of his day. The dramatic climax of the film is Luther's "Here I Stand" speech before the 1521 Diet of Worms, and the grand finale is the singing of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by Luther's congregation.