In 1517 a young monk nailed a long paper to the door of Wittenberg'sCathedral containing 95 thesis - they were 95 different questions thatthe current Roman Catholic Church failed to settle in it's accountingof the Christian faith. When Martin Luther did his act he started morethan a personal dilemma of the might of the Church (and much of thestate) against one lone monk, but he also shook that mighty Church andcreated the greatest schism it faced in five hundred years (the lastone being the split with the Eastern/Greek Orthodox Church about 1050A.D.). Luther never envisioned his questions would lead to theProtestant Reformation, but once it got beyond the initial query of the95 thesis - when he was faced with either knuckling under or facingdeath by burning as a heretic - Luther proved himself the man tocontinue leading his reformation.
He was not a flawless figure. He was self-centered, and resented rival"heretics" (Zwingly, John of Munster, Calvin), and he would becomereally vicious towards the Jews for failing to follow his leadershipinto "true Christianity". In fact his diatribes against the Jews wouldbecome the true foundation of modern German anti-Semitism. But heremains the founder of Protestantism.
His flaws do not appear in this film, which was made by the LutheranChurch.
However the film is a pretty faithful account of his conflict with theorganized Church, and how it led to the creation of Protestantism (and,in particular, Lutheranism). It gave Niall MacGinnis the best straightdramatic lead role in his career (the closest second is his Karswell,the villain in NIGHT OF THE DEMON). MacGinnis always was a superiorsupporting actor in small parts, so it is worth noting that when he wasgiven an important part like Luther he did the part well.
The 95 Theses, which would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, were written in a remarkably humble and academic tone, questioning rather than accusing. The overall thrust of the document was nonetheless quite provocative. The first two of the theses contained Luther’s central idea, that God intended believers to seek repentance and that faith alone, and not deeds, would lead to salvation. The other 93 theses, a number of them directly criticizing the practice of indulgences, supported these first two.
It's important to notice that all of the 95 theses have to do with .
Statements like these are confusing as you read through the 95 theses unless you realize that they are foundations for later arguments. Reading a statement like this is like reading the start of a sentence. Read on and Martin Luther will tell you where he is going.