Martin Luther was the title character of the 1953 film Martin Luther. He was portrayed by Niall MacGinnis.
In the summer of 1505 a group of law students were invited to a party at a public house (tavern) in Erfurt by an unknown person. While at the party their host - Martin Luther - arrived and gave them his possessions as he was entering the Augustinian order.
While in the order Martin tried everything to find peace over what he saw as an angry and judgmental God, even going to the point of nearly whipping himself to death. Terrified, he barely got through his first Mass after being ordained and felt compelled to confess that he he felt unable to love God to Vicar General Johann von Staupitz. The prior of the order proposed expelling Luther, but Staupitz felt the young monk needed a change of pace with a course of theological study and going on a pilgrimage to Rome.
Luther becomes the priest of the Castle Church in Wittenburg and a professor of Biblical studies at the town's university due to the recommendation of his friend George Spalatin. He later earns his doctorate in theology from the University and promises to defend the church when the degree is conferred upon him. Luther soon found himself conflicted over the relics being collected in Wittenburg. He also was disgusted with the indulgences being bought and sold in the town after a drunk told him that he no longer needed to go to confession because of the indulgence he purchased.
The following Sunday Luther preaches against the sale of indulgences. He also posts the 95 Theses on the doors of the church. They attract little attention at first, but explode in popularity after they are copied down, translated, printed, and then distributed across Germany. When this puts a dent in the indulgence sales Albert of Mainz informs the Pope of the situation.
Luther goes with fellow professors Andreas Karlstadt and Philipp Melanchthon to debate Johann Eck in Leipzig. There Luther defends his work, and replies to an accusation from Dr. Eck of it being heresy that his work was still the truth. Following the debate Staupitz releases Luther from the Augustinian order when the younger man refuses to recant his work.
The Cardinal Aleander went to Frederick the Wise to demand that Luther be handed over to the Pope. Frederick refuses, and states that Luther will answer the charges against him at the Imperial Diet in Worms.
When the Diet is held in Worms, Luther is summoned to appear before them to answer for his works. Luther still refused to recant the works. On his way back home Frederick has Luther kidnapped in order to ensure his safety. Hiding him at the castle in Wartburg, Luther is able to work on his translation of the bible from Green and Latin in to German.
Meanwhile Professor Karlstadt had stirred up the common people to commit acts of vandalism against the church, smashing statues, crucifixes, and other devotional items. Hearing of this Luther disguised himself as a knight and returned to Wittenburg. Ordering Karlstadt to leave town, Luther takes the pulpit and preaches against the destruction of sacred items, stating that people must be won to his side through love, not through hatred.
Luther marries the young German runaway nun Katarina von Bora after she makes it clear that she would not consider marriage to anyone else. Their marriage was a happy one and the pair had children together. Luther taught some of the children in Wittenburg.
At some point Duke Frederick died and was succeeded by his brother John, who continued to protect Luther. John and the other electors met at the Diet in Augsburg, and are joined by Melanchthon and other theologians. Luther is stressed that he is unable to join his supporters in Augsburg. In Augsburg Melanchthon and the supporting electors are able to draw up a confession of faith and stand up to the Emperor Charles V, stating that they would not unify with Charles at the cost of their faith.
The news of the Emperor being forced to accept the Augsburg Confession is met with celebration in Wittenburg. At the castle church Luther offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God for allowing him and the other reformers to start to correct the serious wrongs perpetuated by the church.