Thursday, September 7, 2017

What's your Luther Movie?

Next Tuesday PBS will be presenting the film,  Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World and I will probably stream it sometime after it comes on line.  I have seen two previous films dramatizing Luther's life.  I remember the countless screenings of the the Film Martin Luther (1953) in the church of my childhood.  The reels were brought out with care and shown on the congregation's 16mm projector.  In 2003, the film Luther starring Joseph Fiennes was released as an independent film with funding by Thrivent. We held DVD showings at the church I was serving at the time and for a few years we watched it during confirmation sessions.

These three films are all in the same genre.  With wardrobes that that appear to be made from draperies that have come from the sale bin at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and a location that eerily looks like Epcot, the actors enthusiastically speak the dialog in British English to underscore the immense seriousness of it all.  With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I would like immagine what a more creative reboot of the Luther story could be.

1. Reformation: The Final Frontier (space opera) 

The Diet of Worms would be set on a space station in geosynchronous orbit of the planet Worms, which is named for the the giant creatures who burrow under the sands of its surface.  House Habsburg holds the Diet in the Zero-G court room   When asked to deny his writings Luther says "Here I stand!"  Von Eck the papal cyborg with a positronic brain, in laconic inflection, simply states "Sir, you are floating"

Losing the debate on a technicality, Luther screams "Eck!" in his best Wrath of Kahn voice as he is whisked away by a recognizable action star and his fuzzy alien sidekick to the Wartburg system. When Luther expresses doubt about the structural integrity of the getaway vessel, the swashbuckling pilot replies "It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. I've outrun Imperial starships!"


2. You've got Beer (romantic comedy) 

Katie and Martin are set up on a blind date by a couple of colleagues from dissolved monasteries. Although he arrives with flowers, Martin's oafish nature grates on Katie. While Katie's concern for minutia drives Martain crazy as he with increasing intensity constantly tries to get her to listen. They leave the Bierstube despising each other.  

Throughout the film they keep running into each other at awkward moments.  As Martin and Katie go on series of dates with other prospective partners they begin they realize something is missing.  Katie's fashion conscious male friend tells her to suck it up and get her man.  After many ups and downs the film climaxes with a wedding montage scene with a romantic pop song in the background. The film ends with Katie, Martin and their golden retriever living happily ever after. 

3. West Saxon Story (musical)

Come on! If they can make a musical about the failed parisian revolution of 1830 why not the Reformation? The Sharks (Roman Catholics) and the Jets (the Reformers) battle it out in dance on the Wittenburg Markplatz.  The forbidden love of Marty and Katherine gives plenty of  opportunities for heart wrenching solo vocal performances.  Can you say "Oscar and Tony!" 

4. Weekend at Marty's (bromance farce) 

During an alcohol fueled party with loud Funk music in the background Phillip Melancthon storms into Charles Vth"s bedroom and startles Marty and Katie from their embrace to let them know that they can't wake up Fredrick the Wise.   

With Fredrick dead the entire reformation is in jeopardy.  Phil and Marty decide to grab a pair of sunglasses and a wheelchair and drag Fred from party to party throughout the Holy Roman Empire.  With so much low brow humor, one countless acts of physical comedy, no one will remember the plot anyway.   Would love to cast Vince Vaughn as Luther and Adam Sandler as Melanction, or we could just hand the project over to the producers and cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 


5. Night of the Living Peasants (zombies!) 

The evil arch-villain Thomas Müntzer camps out in Southwest Germany and develops a potion that turns good Christian peasants content to serve both their temporal and heavenly masters into flesh eating zombies.  Camped out in a Thuringian pub, Luther and gang crack jokes and kill zombies in all types of creative ways.   When Luther sees zombie Martin Bucer riding in from Strasbourg, he tries baptizing his old friend in a desperate frenzy to save him. As Bucer regains his senses and returns to his normal annoying self,  the gang breaks out the liturgy and some fire hoses. Germany is saved!


Ok, so you've seen these movies before.  That is the point of this post. I have seen this Luther movie before.  "That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; (Ecclesiastes 3:15 NRSV) The best way to commemorate the Reformation will be figure out how to be the faithful church in the future, because if you studied the Reformation, you know that is what it was all about.  A Film about the diversity of our church today would be much more exciting.

Be blessed.

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