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Atheists Get Their "Brokeback Mountain" Moment in the New Sundance Film, "The Ledge&q
After embarking on a passionate affair with his evangelical neighbor's wife (Liv Tyler), Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) soon finds himself in a battle of wills that will have life-or-death consequences. As an atheist, Gavin is lured by his lover's husband (Patrick Wilson) to the ledge of a high rise and told he has one hour to make a choice between his life or the one he loves. Without belief in an afterlife, will he be able to make a decision? It's up to police officer Hollis (Terrence Howard) to save both their lives, but the clock is ticking.
I was quite taken by the trailer, I don't think I've ever seen an Atheist painted in such positive light in a big film.
New York (NY) (May 16, 2011) - Social progress is defined by wakeup moments, when a book or film draws such attention to a cause that it can no longer be crushed or ignored. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner changed the way people thought about interracial marriage. Brokeback Mountain woke a mainstream audience to the cruel consequences of homophobia. The Ledge, the first film to feature an openly atheist hero in a Hollywood production, hopes to achieve similar advances for atheists.
In communities across America where churches are socially and politically dominant, many atheists and agnostics stay in the closet to avoid hatred and isolation. Americans dislike atheists even more than gays and lesbians. According to a Gallup poll, 55% of Americans would vote for a President who was gay or lesbian, while only 45% would vote for an atheist. The Ledge, with A-list stars including Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominee), Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings), and Terrence Howard (Crash, Academy Award nominee), provides an antidote: an imperfect but heroic atheist who is not afraid to say what he believes - even if it leads to his death.
"As we learn more about the universe and ourselves, religion will inevitably give way to atheism," says Matthew Chapman, writer and director of The Ledge. Census figures back him up. Non-belief is the fastest growing "religion" in America. People - particularly the young - are embracing atheism in spite of the risk of being ostracized by religious families, friends, and neighbors. Best-selling books like "The God Delusion" and "God Is Not Great" show that public interest in atheism is high.
Chapman has a personal connection to the atheist cause. He is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, who discovered evolution and set science on a collision course with religion in the most heated way since Galileo. "Like many people, I am fed up with fundamentalism attacking science, dominating politics, and persecuting gays. To believe in a God who tosses almost all his creations into a lake of fire for eternity is to approve of a kind of cruelty that is unimaginable to me. It's time to grow up, reject Bronze Age superstition, and replace it with simple compassion and reason."
Nominated for Best US Drama at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, The Ledge opens on the rooftop of a city skyscraper, as Detective Hollis (Terrance Howard) pleads with Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) not to jump. Hollis soons learns that Gavin's reasons for jumping involve Shana (Liv Tyler) and Joe (Patrick Wilson), her fundamentalist husband. These relationships are seen in flashbacks as Gavin explains his situation to Hollis. Tension escalates from verbal shots to a lethal game in a race against time that neither God nor the police can stop.
"I want Christians and other believers to watch The Ledge and see that atheists have a valid point of view," says Chapman. "There are a lot of us, we are thinking people, we care about many of the same issues as believers, and yet we are rarely heard and widely hated. I hope atheists who are still in the closet will take heart from the film and think, 'I am not alone.'"
What are your thoughts?
Do you think that the U.S.A is on the verge of a drastic change when it comes to the public's perception of Atheists as has happened before (and is happening) with african-americans and homosexual americans?