Continuing the assessment of Empires: Martin Luther (2002) with Timothy West:
Is the movie worth watching as entertainment?The concept in Empires: Martin Luther (2002) is fascinating. There is a sparse cast in the actual enactment. The only one who emotes is the skilled veteran Timothy West. West is virtually the same age in real life as the soon-to-die Luther in 1546 and West appears appropriately old and worn out. That does not mean however that it is a tired, cheesy production. The production is superb with settings in 15 locations.
St. Cross Hospital near Winchester
The production team filmed medieval interiors in the environs of Winchester in England: the famed cathedral itself as well as a medieval boys school, St. Cross Hospital and Romsey Abbey. Not German but authentically old, although once again film-makers seem oblivious to the fact that many buildings in Luther’s lifetime were sparkling new (in Wittenberg - Frederick the Wise's showcase - without exception). Winchester offered exterior scenes too, including what passes for a street of about 1500 and a German forest of the time. Other scenes occurred in Haddon Hall in Derbyshire.
The Italian scenes were indeed in Italy, in and around Rome. The province of Viterbo furnished a medieval square and Palazzo Caprarola for interiors of a papal palace. Scenes were filmed also in the province of Umbria for countryside as well as the church at Todi.
Did they film at all in Germany? Yes, and where else but in Luther’s town of Wittenberg? Actually in Luther’s house (once the Augustinian monastery and now the Luther Museum). Apparently they filmed the memorable snow scene with Luther ratting along in a horse-drawn medieval cart in Austria.
As to the question -- Is Empires: Martin Luther (2002) worth watching as entertainment? – the answer is yes. Weighing how well the almost lavish production is integrated into Liam Neeson’s soothing narration and the learned comments of of six enthusiastic consultants, the result is passably entertaining, even for a general audience.