Sober historical drama tells valuable tale with some death.
  • Review Date: February 26, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Martin Luther almost died for his beliefs, defying the Pope and the Catholic church, which he believed had become too focused on material wealth. He urges people to get back to the basic meaning of faith and to follow the original teachings of Jesus Christ, whose most fundamental message was simply to be a good person. It's a basic message that was deemed heretical and dangerous by the well-entrenched church hierarchy, and is still relevant today.

Positive role models

Martin Luther risks his life to stand up to the most powerful people in Europe, trying to expose hypocrisy and corruption. He almost dies, but instead he triggers some of the most important social changes of the Renaissance.


Several scenes include potentially disturbing images, including people who have been hanged, burned at the stake, or dismembered in battle.


Occasional references to men consorting with prostitutes, including priests. Martin Luther is shown kissing his bride as they relax in bed together.


"Damn" is heard often.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes show people drinking wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Luther is a historical biopic with a few gruesome images of corpses who have been hanged, burned, or dies in battle. The story of Martin Luther, the Catholic priest who stood up to the Pope and the church hierarchy in the 1500s and was nearly killed for his beliefs, is dramatized, but it does cover most of the important events in his life, and explains the impact of his ideas, which triggered the Protestant Reformation. For the most part, the film is fine for younger viewers, and explains important religious concepts.

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What's the story?

In the sixteenth century, a German priest named Martin Luther (Joseph Fiennes) becomes increasingly disillusioned with the Catholic church, which he believes has become too concerned with material wealth and is drifting far from the original message of Jesus. His controversial views rouse the ire of the Pope and church hierarchy in Rome, and he's branded a heretic and later excommunicated. LUTHER shows what he risks by standing up for what he believes and follows the evolution of his ideas, as well as how those ideas transformed the world.

Is it any good?


Luther, the historical figure, was incredibly strong to stand up the church, even upon pain of death. Luther, the biopic, however, is less vivid and compelling. The film does a good job of explaining how his views evolved, but it feels less like a drama and more like a history lesson.

Fiennes is a fine actor who captures his character's conflicts. But the script is more like a series of vignettes -- each episode focused on an important event in Luther's life -- that don't hold together as a connected tale. It's preachy rather than exciting, and feels like a movie someone might watch for school, rather than a title to sink into for entertainment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about people who made a difference in history. What do you think about the life of Martin Luther? How were his ideas different from the status quo? Who else has taken a stand and changed history?

  • Would you stand up to authority for something you believed in, as Luther did? What would be the challenges to doing this? What kind of cause would make you take something on despite the difficulty?

  • How much of what is in this movie is factual? How can you find out?

Movie details

DVD release date:November 30, 2004
Cast:Alfred Molina, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Ustinov
Director:Eric Till
Topics:Great boy role models, History
Run time:124 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:disturbing images of violence

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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