Genre: Adventure, Romance
2017 marked the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation. From this momentous occasion, we were given the absolutely amazing movie Storm: Luther’s Forbidden Letter. This film, from the Netherlands, gave me everything I wanted in a Christian film. It was filled with intriguing adventure while still retaining an emotional and heartfelt storyline, it had the fun of a fictionalized story but stayed rooted in historical accuracy, and every single costume and set was created in a quality that is worthy of the big screen. The fact is, the day after I watched this film I was still excited and thinking about it. That’s how you know you’ve seen a great movie.
Originally titled Storm: Letters van Vuur, Storm: Luther’s Forbidden Letter is a fictional tale based on the true story of Martin Luther and the Reformation. The movie centers on Storm Voeten (Davy Gomez), a young typesetter who works for his father Klaas (Yorick van Wageningen) at their family-run print shop in the year 1517. When his father is arrested for printing an illegal letter written by Martin Luther, Storm goes on the run with the only remaining copy of the letter. With the help of a young girl, Marieke (Juna de Leeuw), who lives in the underground sewers, Storm has to keep the document safe from the Inquisitor while trying to save his father from execution. Storm: Luther’s Forbidden Letter also stars Angela Schijf (Flikken Maastricht, Daylight), Maarten Heijmans (Suspects, Weg van Jou), and Peter Van den Begin (King of the Belgians, Too Fat Too Furious).
Considering the fact that this film is from the Netherlands, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the original dialogue is in Dutch but is dubbed over in English. Although this did bother me a little at first, I soon got used to it and by the end of the film I didn’t notice it at all. My suggestion is to simply not focus on their mouths in the beginning. Look at their eyes or look at the beautiful scenery. Just don’t look them in the mouth!
The opening sequence of the film was a, “You had me at hello,” moment. The setting and cinematography were incredibly beautiful and gave me the same feeling of awe I had when I watched the opening sequence of ABC’s Once Upon A Time. Apparently, I’m not the only one who was impressed by the production quality since the film won an Ensor award for Best Production Design.
The opening also made a good choice by throwing you into the action right away. As soldiers rode through the forest on ominous black horses, I couldn’t help but lean into the screen in anticipation of what was about to happen next. That type of intrigue lasted throughout the film. Even the moments that weren’t filled with blatant action were fascinating and filled with an important underlying message.
Although the story of Storm and his family are fictional, they depict the very real struggles of people in Europe at that time. The movie shows Inquisitors burning illegal books, people spending their hard-earned money on indulgences to buy their way into heaven, church services spoken in Latin even though the common man didn’t understand it, and much more. The book burning scene was especially moving for me as I witnessed a man who valued the illegal texts, presumed to be Luther’s works, so much that he burned his hands reaching into the fire for them. So often we take the written word and the ability to read what we want for granted. Now days we can grab a Bible at any time in both book and digital format. Yet, we often don’t take the time to do it. Watching this movie reminded me what a gift I have by simply being able to read the word of God.
The one thing I was not impressed by was the performance of first two actors in the movie, one of whom played Martin Luther. I thought they were a bit stilted in their facials and body language. However, their part didn’t last very long and the main actors were all really good. I was especially impressed with the child actors, Davy Gomez and Juna de Leeuw. They were both wonderful and I loved their character’s innocent romance in the sewer. Yes, I said a sewer.
The title itself, Storm: Luther’s Forbidden Letter, makes me hopeful for a series of “Storm” movies. If they ever decided to make another, I would be the first one to watch. If you would like to watch this one, it is available on DVD and streaming on Amazon Prime and PureFlix.com.
WHAT AGE GROUP IS IT FOR?
While this is a family-friendly film, I would give it a PG-13 rating. This is because of some graphic imagery like a man with burned hands and another man lying on the floor dead. There is also some violence and Storm’s father is at risk of execution. I think kids over the age of 13, though, would love it and really appreciate the fact that the two main characters are kids themselves. Keep in mind, this is also a movie for adults. If you’re an adult viewer, you don’t have to worry about lowering your entertainment standards for this one.
LOOKING TO SHOW IT AT CHURCH?
This is a great movie to show at church if your church is Protestant or Non-Denominational. It is especially great if your church is Lutheran. However, this might not be the best film for Catholic churches because it is depicting a time in the Catholic Church’s history that is particularly unflattering. If you do choose to show the film, the main message is that God’s love is free. You can’t earn it or buy it. His love is enough.