Martin the Cobbler (1977)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Will Vinton
Not Rated

Not rated, short video. Running time: 27 min.

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

From Matthew 25:31-46

Martin talks with the old apple lady.         (c) 1977 Billy Budd Films

Jesus’ memorable parable of the sheep and the goats was the inspiration for one of Tolstoy’s most popular stories “Where Love is, God is.” It continues to be popular through the play adapted from it and the short film adaptation called Martin the Cobbler. Will Vinton’s beautifully crafted claymation version, created in 1977, is very special in that it features the voice of the Russian author’s own son Alexandra Tolstoy as the narrator.

The old man labors away at repairing shoes in a basement shop. Through its window he can see the legs of every one passing by. He can tell who it is by their shoes, most of which he has repaired at some time or other. The death of his wife and child as left him a bitter man, but when his best friend gives him a New Testament, the old man undergoes a change of heart.

One night Martin has a dream in which the Lord tells him that the next day he will come by and through a series of incidents, Martin discovers the meaning of the words in Jesus’ parable, “as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me…” So all day he keeps looking expectantly out the window when he hears someone approaching. All he sees however are the usual passers by plus, a sidewalk sweeper suffering from the cold weather; an old woman berating a boy for trying to steal her apple; and a thinly clad young mother with a hungry baby. Martin helps each of them; but that night he is disappointed that the Lord did not show up. Then, of course, comes the revelation from Matthew 25 that Christ was in each of “the least of these…”

Vision Video also offers a 33-minute DVD of this story under the title of The Visitor, which sets the story in our own time, Martin’s wife and child perishing in a car crash. The film uses live actors, so it is probably best used with adults. Whichever version you use, the story is great for use at Christmas time or whenever the great parable from Matthew is studied.



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