PBS premiered Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World on Sept 12th, 2017. The two-hour film brings to life Luther's 16th century quest to reform the church—a journey that would profoundly reshape western civilization.
Historians rank Luther among the two or three most influential people of the last millennium. As an outcast who stood up to the world's dominant superpower, Luther's battle of ideas sparked reform of the church, the rise of individualism, a boon in universal education, and improved opportunities for women.
Starring Padraic Delaney (The Tudors, Knightfall) in the title role, the film follows Luther through the emotional highs and lows that marked his eventful life. Along the way, scholars offer commentary to give context to the story. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) narrates.
Luther stepped onto the world stage exactly 500 years ago this October, as he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
The printing and distribution of the Theses—and other crowd-pleasing critiques of the powerful—quickly made him the most famous person in Europe. Overnight, Martin Luther became the world's first media celebrity.
Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World follows this thread, and others, to offer an engaging look at the dramatic moments that shaped Luther's life: the massive lightning storm that nearly killed him, the bleak self-punishment of his time in the monastery, the corruption that unleashed his anger, his trial before the most powerful man in Europe, and the staged kidnapping that helped him escape the death penalty.
In a quest for authenticity, every word of Luther's dialogue in the film was taken verbatim from his actual writings and speeches. Similarly, all filming was done in the castles, monasteries, and ancient churches of eastern Europe—chosen for their undisturbed 16th century heritage.