Furthering the assessment of Empires: Martin Luther (2002) with Timothy West:
Is the movie worth watching as history?
In contrast to Luther (2003) with Joseph Fiennes, Empires: Martin Luther (2002) has no fabricated scenes with made-up characters. Inaccuracies that occur in the program invariably occur in the narration. Some might dispute some of the statements by the six consultants but criticisms would be regarding interpretations of history. Are the errors in the narration of Empires: Martin Luther (2002) grievous?
As summarized in earlier blogs, several mistakes are present. The ‘Road to Damascus’ experience is factual but re-anacted incorrectly. Luther’s relationship with his mentor Johann von Staupitz is needlessly muddled. Luther’s initial Bible study is bungled in detail. The participants at the 1521 Worms hearing of Luther with the emperor are inaccurate in that Luther’s familiarity with the participants is incorrect. The influence of the indulgence-peddler Tetzel is exaggerated. These are not grievous errors and some have become part of Luther lore.
The grievous errors consist of implying Luther caused the Peasants’ War (a common view but not of historians) and the further extrapolation of his influence as a cause of the English Civil War over a 100 years after his death. Creating these false connections has only detracted from an exposition of Luther’s most serious flaw: violent, inflammable rhetoric against peasants, against nobles, against kings, against Jews, against the Old Faith, against members of the New Faith. Violent rhetoric was common at the time but once Luther had everyones’ ears he had a responsibility to maintain calm. It is no accident that virtually all his closest and greatest supporters pleaded with him to tone down his rage.
As to the question -- Is Empires: Martin Luther (2002) worth watching as history? – the answer is yes with the reservations just stated.
Therefore, considering the program’s factual value as well as its positive entertainment value, Empires: Martin Luther (2002) is definitely watchable. It is less entertaining than Luther (2003) with Joseph Fiennes but more accurate historically.