Why Should You See The Ledge? A Guest Post by Matthew Chapman June 24, 2011

Why Should You See The Ledge? A Guest Post by Matthew Chapman

What would a movie look like if it was directed by an atheist? If it had characters who were atheists? If it included conversations we’ve had with religious people?

Here’s an idea:

That’s a clip from The Ledge, a movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is slated for a test run in two theaters next month. If it does well there, we could be seeing the movie open nationwide.

The movie is written and directed by Matthew Chapman, notable for authoring 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin®, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania… and for being the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.

I asked Matthew if he could tell me more about the film — and why atheists should see it — and he offered this exclusive commentary:

The Ledge is a thriller in which an atheist comes in conflict with an evangelical Christian and ultimately… well, you have to see the film. It stars Liv Tyler, Terrence Howard, Patrick Wilson, Charlie Hunnam, and Chris Gorham and was selected from over a thousand films to be in the main competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s emotional.

And it is clearly pro-atheist.

The Ledge opens for a test run in two theaters on July 8th, one in New York, and one in Los Angeles. If the two theaters sell out the first weekend, the distributor will consider a nationwide release. The future of The Ledge therefore depends on the two cities where it least needs to be seen. I want The Ledge to open in the smaller towns across America where religion is a real force that affects people’s daily lives. Only then will it get covered by local media, provoke debate, and reach the people who aren’t usually exposed to our philosophy. It can cross over. It is a thrilling and entertaining movie as well as advocating our views.

Having the more intellectually defensible position, atheists understandably try to persuade through intellectual argument. But if you want to convert believers, you have to speak their language. The appeal of religion is not intellectual; it is emotional. The further out you go — into the country, into the mega-churches, into extremism — the more emotional it becomes. Intellectual arguments do not tend to change these people.

The Ledge can. Here are two small stories from among several similar ones:

When I screened the film in Sundance, there was a group of Fuller Seminary students in the audience. After the screening ended, one of them, a woman, stood up with tears streaming down her face and said, “I want to apologize for all the harm my faith has done to you.” The consequences of religious cruelty — seen in dramatic form in the film — had touched her. I am not saying she became an atheist, or ever will, but that her views shifted in some significant way was beyond question.

Someone I know has a fundamentalist mother with a gay nephew. Since he came out five years ago her mother has refused to speak to him. My friend saw The Ledge and persuaded her mom to do the same. The Ledge contains not just an outspoken atheist, but a gay man with whom he lives. This man is maligned by the fundamentalist in the film and, to his great disappointment, let down by his own religion. As the end credits rolled, the woman picked up the phone and called her nephew to reconcile with him. Again, I am not saying she left her church, or that she ever will, but a real and significant human change occurred as a result of the film’s appeal to the emotions.

I am not embarrassed to be using emotion to make our argument. After all, the consequences of religious irrationality and intolerance are emotional. Women suffer when religion forces them to lead demeaned lives. Gay people suffer when they are denied their human rights or are ostracized because of religion. And mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters suffer when their relatives get killed in religious wars.

We have been making our intellectual case since before Jesus was born. If we want to succeed, we must also appeal to sentiment, to compassion, to emotion. Film is a great medium for this, perhaps the best. The Ledge can be the first of several feature films to question faith in this way — or it can be the last for a long while. When Passion of the Christ was supported by Christians and did well, other faith based movies followed. If The Ledge succeeds, the same principle will apply and a door will open.

EVERYTHING depends on you. Are we less passionate about our convictions than Christians, or can we equal or even better them in terms of our relative numbers? And by the way, I’m not asking you to “eat your broccoli.” The movie is a thriller. I have yet to see a single person leave the theater once the film started. Liv Tyler is beautiful and marvelous in it. Charlie Hunnam is gorgeous. Patrick Wilson, Terrence Howard, and Chris Gorham are brilliant. All I am asking you to do is: go to the movies! Support a film that supports your views.

I believe the film will run for quite a while in New York and LA, but initially the important days are Friday July 8th, Saturday July 9th, and Sunday July 10th. If we can just do this — fill two theaters for three days — it will be reported the following Monday that an atheist feature film succeeded. And that will be a real cultural game changer.

The two theaters are:

IFC Center in New York City, NY.

The Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, CA.

If you don’t live in Los Angeles or New York tell your friends there to go see it. Because of the film’s unusual release pattern, you can also already get it on VOD (just search “Ledge”), or rent it online from iTunes.

To watch clips, to read reviews and articles, or to see how you can help the movie, visit our website.

If you’ve had a chance to see it, feel free to leave your reviews in the comments.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Why are atheists so intent on aping all that is cringe-worthy about religious ghettos? But perhaps the rest of the film is more nuanced than the clip above.

  • Erica

    Yeah, I second AndrewFinden. There’s a reason Christian music and films have a tendency to come across as pat or insincere — art driven by didacticism is just medicine coated in sugar. Great art wrestles with questions; mediocre art insists on answers.

  • Erica

    Bah, just saw the trailer, and it’s worse than I thought — if we’re interested in showing people the beauty of a secular humanist worldview, maybe we should avoid using female characters as props, for starters.

    Also we should maybe not play into the theist notion that if we don’t believe in God, then we’re prone to, say, break up marriages by having affairs.

    We can also maybe work on our acting skills. Ahem.

  • Looks brilliant. I will definitely pay to see it in a cinema if it opens in the UK.

  • I saw this trailer earlier – looks interesting, but who’s going to watch this:

    (a) Liberal arty types (i.e. atheists)
    (b) (maybe) A Christian or two who walks in to the wrong cinema, and who will sees it as having an atheist bias.

  • RB

    The comments so far are a bit negative! Ok its not looking like the best film of all time, but at least it’s doing something in this whole battle against overbaring faith. We need more films like this to help show people it is ok to realise religion is unsubstantiated and that you don’t have to devote your life to it if you’re not convinced. If this film makes 1 person realise they can free themselves of religion then great. That will lead to all of their blood line after them not being force fed religion from birth.

    I hope this film does well and gets a release nationwide. I live in the UK so I can’t see it being released here any time soon.

  • Charlzm

    Interesting clip; it makes the atheist out to be a raving, unhappy jerk and the born-again Christian is calm and collected and… well, a nice person.

  • @David McNerney
    Not all arty-liberal types are atheists. And bias isn’t the problem, caricature and preaching is the problem. If this was simply a thriller with a phsycho who was some religious nut, fine – interesting plot line etc. It’s when it becomes ideological propaganda that it starts to become as groan-worthy as so-called ‘Christian’ films.

  • I have been eagerly awaiting this movie, and at least one prominent, well-spoken atheist who has actually seen the movie disagrees with the 4 previous commentors.

    It’s about time that there is a movie available that puts atheists in a POSITIVE light without making us devil worshiping, baby eating, pinko commies. I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I reserve all critique until I’ve actually seen it. I don’t ever automatically decide to not see a movie simply based on its trailer.

    Thanks, Hemant, for this post – this movie needs to get more exposure. *nod*

  • ANuRa

    Wow… any idea of the chances of this movie coming to Europe? I would like to see it, really.

    Ah, it’s online!!! Nice!!!

  • @Erica: Spoken like someone who’s never experienced Bach, or wondered at Michelangelo. Clearly, you know nothing of what you speak when it comes to religiously (or a-religiously!) motivated art.

    Seriously, could you be ANY more trite? “Great art wrestles with questions;” Bullshit. What ‘questions’ is The Well-Tempered Clavier ‘wrestling’ with? What ‘questions’ is Picasso’s Guernica ‘wrestling’ with? Here’s a clue: Guernica ‘insists on answers,’ and they’re not pretty ones.

    Your negativity isn’t helping. Try going along with a positive appraisive value towards the movie instead. You’ll come across as much less a curmudgeon than you do now.

    Whatever you reply, don’t bother with ‘But Bach is great art!!!11!one’. I don’t do special pleading, from fellow atheists OR Christians.

    @Andrew: Your concern-trollery is noted. Thanks. We’ll get around to answering the Philosophers’ god when there are enough philosophers to matter; or when he’s the only one left.

    As you can see, the elegant answers put forth by brilliant minds like Russell, Euthyphro and others have done so very well in the past, I mean look, 90% of the world is non-theist! Oh. Wait. It isn’t. Maybe it’s time to try something new – like challenging religion on it’s face. Denying it the place of privilege it has created for itself to the detriment of all humanity is a good place to start, don’t you think? I mean, it seems you’re so very concerned with ‘good’ argument. To my mind, a good argument either outright convinces the opponent or at least brings those on the fence toward your side – which is all the purpose of this movie seems to be. From where I sit, the only ghetto is the one you’re sitting in – where the Courtier’s Reply is the only possible response.

  • Staci

    Noooo….Why does this movie has to depict the atheist having an affair? Somehow, it will prove to Christians that we really are immoral. It’s a step up from baby eating, but now what I’d like to see.

  • @Denise: Andrew is not an atheist. Nor should you want to be taking literary/art advice from him. Here are the first three sentences of the top post on his blog:

    “I’m quite ashamed to admit that I’d never read Narnia. I can see why it’s so popular, now that I’ve begun.

    I love the way Lewis describes Aslan…”

    People who gush quite this disjointly over C.S. Lewis probably should not be taken to be serious scholars of either theology or narrative fiction.

    At best, Andrew is a concern troll.

  • Looks interesting and I’ll try and see it if I can.

    But what I took away from that clip is that the theist is calm whilst the atheist just goes off on some rant. I know that that is how we often feel when dealing with those bat-shit crazy answers, but if we’re trying to promote atheism then this doesn’t exactly seem to be a nuanced approach.

    Oh, and did you say Liv Tyler is in it? Yes? Excellent.

  • WishinItWas

    I will be heading to the IFC center that weekend to check it out. Good or bad I think it will be interesting to see the type of crowd that shows up.

  • @Roger Burgess III
    I assure you I am no troll (disagreement does not a troll make – ad hominem that has nothing to do with post however might well be considered such). But thanks for the link love. If classic childrens’ fiction was the extent of my artistic and literary pursuits, I’d probably agree with your assessment (as it happens, ’twas merely a pleasant diversion from analysing Rellstab poetry as set by Schubert). 😉

    Back to the topic: sadly, the online versions of this film don’t appear to be available in Germany. I was hoping to see it as the plot itself looks pretty interesting.

  • Erica

    I think part of my problem is the framing of the campaign — it mimics so closely the Passion-style exhortion to the supporter base to promote the film for the good of [insert ideology here]. I was still a Christian when Mel Gibson used that tactic, and I felt more than a little offended at being so used. As an atheist, I’ve often looked back on the Passion campaign as yet another example of religious group-think that I was grateful to be free of.

    I sure as (no)hell don’t like the idea of being asked to play foot-soldier again.

  • Matt H

    Well, I watched the Passion when it released, as well as all the other “Woo” movies of recent years, so I suppose I’d be remiss if I missed a movie that is suppose to actually align somehow with my own worldview. The negative comments aren’t very hopeful though…

  • I have to agree with AndrewFinden on this. The only possible saving grace (if you’ll pardon the phrase) about this is that so many films that aren’t even intended to be pro-Christian have irrationalist and anti-atheist themes. One needs for example to only look at the many movies involving some form of supernatural wherever not where the strawman scientist won’t acknowledge what they see before them even after massive amounts of evidence, and then they more often than not get their just desserts for failing to believe. And sometimes, there isn’t even much evidence, and the scientists still suffer. Faith and irrationalism being good things are just standard tropes at this point. So a few films that go in the other direction might not be a bad thing. But I’d rather they be films that happen to do that, not films that are expressly designed to do that. Preachiness gets dull real fast.

  • Claudia

    So here’s a thought. How about those people with easy access to New York and West Hollywood spend an afternoon at the movies and actually, I don’t know, check to see if this movie is any good. There’s no need to assume that it’s terrible (it might be), too preachy (it could be) or great (it could be too). People who can should go see it, and hopefully report back. I’m seeing a lot of detailed objections based on not a whole lot of information. Maybe they’re right, but theres no need to speculate when there’s a simple mechanism for testing the matter.

  • I’ll admit the marketing seems a bit on-the-nose and is pushing the movie as though it’s just atheist propoganda.

    However, the movie made it into the Sundance Film Festival, which is not a low bar. And it’s got a couple big-name actors which, for a small film, is usually an indicator that they really believe in it (since it’s not like they’re going to make big bucks off it).

    Plus, most importantly, Greta Christina liked it, and she doesn’t strike me as the sort of person that would be positive about a terrible film just because she agreed with the themes.

  • Dmitri

    It’s very hard to tell how a film will be, based on one clip, a still shot, and some scant printed information. From the clip, it does seem that the acting not so hot. As for plot, well I can tell from the limited information here is that there’s a calm theist (with a daughter or something) and an angry atheist, and at some point the atheist appears to be contemplating jumping out of a tall building. Where the atheist having an affair plot point came from… I either somehow missed or you guys have more info than I do. At any rate, it probably deserves more of a chance than many of us are giving it. I’m sure the young woman is more than a “prop” in other scenes. 😛 And the gay roommate subplot is kinda intriguing.

    But… the potential to be preachy is a bit worrisome. Although the fact that it apparently has changed some people’s perspectives during the screening process is kinda promising. And the release pattern seems to me to mirror that of the Left Behind movies. They too had a home video type of release (DVD in their case) prior to being released theatrically, in order to drum up interest.

    Really, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I mean, the idea of more people becoming rational, or at least realizing that some aspects of what they believe and how it makes them act are hurtful is very positive, but… it also smacks of telling the good news, witnessing, proselytizing, etc. But I also realize that if information isn’t put out there, then no one will find it. *sigh* It’s too early in the morning for an ethical dilemma.

    At any rate, I do hope this is better than Brokeback Mountain. While it did make the “gay movie” cross over to the mainstream, I didn’t really think it was that great of a movie, in spite of its success.

  • L

    My daughter and I watched this last night. This scene is not the best representation of the whole movie and probably the only one that annoyed me coming off, perhaps, as a little too didactic.

    And without giving too much away, had they cut the clip a little longer, the theist gets a little less calm and rational…

    I recommend you watch the entire movie.

  • Stogoe

    I actually saw it at the American Atheists convention in Aril, and I thought it was pretty good. I love me some Chris Gorham, and Terrence Howard is great as always. I don’t think the female lead was any more of a prop than in most media. Maybe that’s damning with faint praise, I don’t know. I liked it, but I tend to like things. Go see it and decide for yourself.

  • Hey everybody!

    My husband and I watched this film a few weeks ago. You can actually stream it or download it from the Sundancenow website. So, there’s no need to wait and hope for it to come someplace near you, unless you’re a stickler for seeing movies in theatres

    I don’t want to give away any spoilers. The film’s worldview seemed very… comfortable to me. However, I think the acting was about on par with, say… Fireproof. There was one point in which Patrick Wilson’s character gives an impassioned monologue about finding beauty and connection in the universe that felt really unnatural and forced.

    Patrick Wilson’s character has some major character flaws, which while making him more realistic also plays into stereotypes against atheists and I thought those flaws were a little overplayed.

    Many of the moral questions regarding worldview differences between atheists/theists brought up in the film was definitely worth discussing afterward. My husband and I ended up saying to each other, “There was this or that moral idea in the film that is interesting and something we’ve discussed about a million times before, so it’s cool to see that idea presented in a film”. If you’re an atheist who has engaged in lots of reading/discussion with other people regarding atheism, there aren’t really any new ideas in this film. I don’t know what a theist will think of it though and this movie would probably be great to watch with a theist because quite a lot of discussion could come from it.

    Overall, I thought it was a worthwhile watch.

    P.S. I am not a good film critic, so take these words with a grain of salt.

  • Dmitri


    Ooh! Apparently the believer forces the atheist out onto the ledge and gives him an hour to decide between saving his own life or that of someone else. (according to IMDB) How very Saw! And how very demented…

    Oh, and here’s another clip.

  • Nena

    From the clip here, it looks like the acting and directing leaves quite a lot to be desired; but short clips like this can be misleading. I hope to have a chance to see it in its entirety before making any kind of declaration of its quality.

    I personally hope it does well. Perhaps it is a bit of preaching and proselytizing, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

  • Speaking of “evidence,” this trailer seems to portray the movie better than the video clip posted above:

    The Ledge – Official Trailer [HD]

    Based on the trailer, I would want to see it. The clip on the original blog post is from the movie but it doesn’t condense down the overall theme of the movie.

    Imagine if someone created a trailer for “Contact” that consisted of nothing but metaphysical discussions between Jodie Foster’s character and Matthew McConaughey. You would say it looks like a very boring indie film about philosophy and religion in life (which makes one wonder if they even bothered making a trailer for “My Dinner with Andre”).

    Finally … regarding the suggestion that religious folks would see the movie as confirming their biases that atheists are immoral and probably adulterous cads, keep in mind that all three of the major characters seem to be very human and very flawed.

    The atheist dude is having an affair with married Christian woman. Married Christian woman is consenting to engage in the affair. Husband of married Christian woman is intent on committing murder (his wife directly or atheist by forcing himself to sacrifice his life to save the wife).

    None of the characters come off as “paragons of virtue.” And if they did, it would make for a very boring movie.

  • doglovingirl

    Gosh, I feel really enthusiastic about this movie. I think it looks good. I’m thrilled that it’s bringing up these moral/philosophical issues that could make people start to think and start to talk. The atheist seems pretty rational to me (well, other than the standing on the ledge part…) 😉 I don’t live in LA or NY, but I’m going to support this movie. It’s about time we got something like this out there.

  • Ibis

    I haven’t seen the movie (not available in Canada), but from the trailer, my biggest concern is that it portrays the “most faithful” Christian as a jealous murderer nutjob–not that there aren’t religious jealous murderer nutjobs, just that it might seem as though this movie marketed as an atheist movie is demonising Christians. If the roles were reversed, there would likely be complaints from our side that atheists are being portrayed as evil villains. I don’t know if I’m expressing myself well, but it’s just an impression.

  • dauntless

    Throw in a mention of “that’s the tragedy of how evil men can mislead entire generations of people into going to hell”, and that brief exchange about hell would be exactly like one I had with my dad when I was 11. At the time, I filed it away in my “bullshit I can’t believe” file, and that crack eventually caused my whole theist belief system to shatter.

  • Roxane

    How many hokey religious movies have there been? Every Christmas and Easter, TV is full of religious movies, ranging from painfully earnest Bible stories to a movie like “Masada,” which idealizes zealots. How many documentaries and pseudodocumentaries have been shown on cable TV promoting the xian viewpoint and pussyfooting around the fact that the archaeological evidence is skimpy at best? Are any of the people making these things, or watching them, worried about whether they are a “perfect” exposition of their viewpoint? Whether each believer is portrayed as perfect enough? They don’t need to, because they have plenty of material to choose from when they make out their Netflix queues.

    I’m so glad somebody is taking this on that I’d go see it if it were written by Bulwer-Lytton, acted by (I don’t know, I can’t think of anyone lame enough offhand) and directed by Ed Wood. Even if it’s preachy, so what? It’s OUR preachy for a change. That novelty alone makes it worth a look.

  • Nena

    Wow, the official trailer posted by Steve makes it look a lot better…I may have to watch it tonight.

  • Folks … Greta Christina’s review is up on AlterNet:


    It’s not a perfect movie but she does give it a good review.

  • Erica

    Yeah, Greta Christina’s take is encouraging — although she confirms what I suspected in the trailer about Liv Tyler’s character.

    @Roxanne — True about the hokey religious movies, but I didn’t even like those when I was religious. Would be ironic to start now. Hopefully this one doesn’t stoop so low, but I remain pretty suspicious about agenda-driven art like this. (@Roger Burgess III: Breathe, man. You’ll pull through. Read it again slowly and think of Bach.)

  • Jon martin

    I saw the movie!!! I thought the TRAILER was so lame but believe me the MOVIE is great!!!!! Stream it for free or watch on video demand and you’ll see what I mean. I give it 7 out of 10 stars. This film needs to be put in theaters across America.

  • Jon Martin

    Liv’s character is a “character”. She’s not supposed to be Hillary Clinton! She’s a repressed wife of a crazy fundie who has some serious issues in her past. Cut the character some slack.

  • If you’re in the Bay Area, the Atheist Film Festival on August 21 in San Francisco will be screening The Ledge, and it even sounds like the director will be there in person!

    Our official website is not up yet, but for now you can check out our Facebook page. Hope to see some of you there!

  • Erica

    @Jon Martin — My problem is with how the writer seems to be choosing to use the character, and how that’s not a great advertisement for humanism.

    That said, if it’s available online for free, I’m totally going to watch it. (If I can in the UK…)

  • Jon Martin

    ….and listen to last week’s Non Prophets podcast. They interview the director and he explains away a lot of the negative posts here…..

    It’s not a perfect movie but it’s still very worth seeing. I’m going to the Sunset opening. We need to sell these showings out!

  • I remember Matthew Chapman talking about an atheist movie he was trying to get made. I believe he spoke about it on the DVD for the Atheist Alliance International 2007 Convention, so it’s nice to know that it actually came to fruition!

    Politics and philosophy are all well and good, but I’m much more interested in how atheism is portrayed in the media and popular culture. We need more movies with atheist themes and characters. It’s good to have characters mentioning their lack of belief, but I certainly think the field is ripe for a more in-depth exploration of atheism vs. theism.

    As for the movie, it’s not really my usual genre, but the trailer looks good. I’m surprised anyone would think it’s a “ghetto” movie when it has top actors like Terrence Howard, Patrick Wilson, and Charlie Hunnam in the lead roles. It premiered at Sundance and is being released by IFC Films. This clearly isn’t some amateur effort.

    If you’re in the Bay Area, the Atheist Film Festival on August 21 in San Francisco will be screening The Ledge, and it even sounds like the director will be there in person!

    That sounds great! I’ll definitely try to be there. Let us know when the full program is up. I’ve never been to a film festival before, and it would be nice to make this my first one.

  • Karen

    Totally agree with Matthew on the need to reach people’s emotions. That’s the driving force of Christianity – and probably all religion – and we must employ it to make the case for rationality, as counter-intuitive as that may seem.

    I’ll definitely go to West Hollywood to see the movie next month.

  • Lisa

    I’ll try my best to watch it at IFC!

  • @Anna, I’ll definitely let everyone know when our full website up! Maybe I can even get Hemant to do a post about our film festival, like he just did for the Humanists Association of Manitoba…

  • Maybe I can even get Hemant to do a post about our film festival, like he just did for the Humanists Association of Manitoba…

    Hope so! He did post about the 2009 festival. I wasn’t able to go, but it sounded like fun.

  • I’ll second the recommendation of Greta Christina’s review; the movie isn’t perfect, but it is really, really good.

    I’ll specifically comment on Liv Tyler’s character; I consider it to be integral to her character that she’s subdued and passive to a fault … That’s exactly how women are often victimized by religious extremism. I’ll point out that Christopher Gorham’s character, the main character’s gay roommate, is similarly passive in the face of religion that’s clearly oppressive to him. I will definitely argue that this is vital to these characters (if not the entire point of the characters).

    Disclaimer: I’m Ziztur’s husband, and while I loved it, she just thought it was alright, so mileage may vary.

  • Chris

    I think this looks great and I want to see it

  • you can watch it now if you have on demand or at sundancenow.com.

  • Ben M

    Quick question, people have mentioned streaming, but where can I find that?

  • Rich Wilson

    Chad’s link is a bit broken.

    You can download or stream for $9.99 from http://www.sundancenow.com/film/the-ledge/673 (probably only from the US)

    I’m not aware of a free streaming source. Maybe Hulu will pick it up if enough people ask about it http://www.hulu.com/discussions/6

  • If you’re in Cambridge, Mass, you can come see a free screening of it next Friday (July 1) at 7pm at our Humanist Center in the heart of Harvard Square. The film is great!

  • Mayor of Hell

    I just watched this movie on Comcast OnDemand and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s not bad either. I didn’t really see it as pitting atheists against Christians, but rather as how people of varying beliefs confront existential dilemmas under extreme emotional/psychological pressure. Of course the fundamentalist Christian is portrayed as the obvious “bad guy” (and he definitely is), but Charlie Hunnam’s character ain’t exactly a moral exemplar either; He basically initiates the affair with Liv Tyler’s character because he doesn’t like her husband’s homophobic piety. In the end, I think the film was about holding strong to what you truly believe in; whether it be a woman, a man, family, true love, or a god.

  • Nora

    oh man, it’s taking all the effort I have not to download it now! I’m making myself wait so I can see it in theaters cause I live right outside LA. Soooo excited!

  • Tom

    Having the more intellectually defensible position, atheists understandably try to persuade through intellectual argument. But if you want to convert believers, you have to speak their language. The appeal of religion is not intellectual; it is emotional. The further out you go — into the country, into the mega-churches, into extremism — the more emotional it becomes. Intellectual arguments do not tend to change these people.

    Been saying this for years. And years. Thank you Mathew Chapman, you must be a smart guy 😉

  • Hi. I wrote and directed this film. Thank you for all your comments. It is a little weird to see so much instant knee-jerk criticism at the top of these comments based on trailers I had nothing to do with, but good to see people like the movie a little more once they’ve actually seen it… Yes, I want your support. Yes, it’s vital if the film is ever to reach beyond our (often apparently back-biting, self-destructive) community. So often in my long experience as an advocate for atheism I have found we spend most of our time talking to ourselves, preaching to the converted. This movie can actually talk to those who need to be reached. As for Liv Tyler’s character: Yes, she is submissive – that’s the whole point: she’s the beaten down wife of a fundamentalist. I’ve met many women like her and had many women like her who have escaped such marriages come up to me after screenings and describe Liv’s eventual escape as being inspiring. I don’t advocate passivity or submission, but unless you show something, how do you say, “This is bad”? I could have made a movie about a saintly agnostic and a loveable Quaker having a civilized discussion over a cup of coffee as the Quaker’s wife writes a dissertation in the background, but it would have been fucking boring! See the movie first, then hate it. This kind of before-the-fact judgement and damnation reminds me of the other side…

  • Erica

    @Matthew Chapman
    Thanks very much for engaging in the discussion! I see what you’re saying about Liv Tyler’s character, but the criticism isn’t about whether the character herself is passive or not, but rather how she functions in the story, especially in relation to the lead (male) characters. Even Greta Christina’s otherwise glowing review referred to Shana as the “prize in the game played by two men”.

    Not every film has to pass the Bechdel Test, obviously. But it would have been fun.

    I do have to say I’m genuinely bothered by your equating of negative reaction to the promotional clips and trailers to “backbiting” or “self-destructive” behaviour, not to mention your comparison to “the other side”. One of the joys of leaving behind “the other side” is that we’re no longer required to like something just because we share an ostensible ideology with it.

    Even those of us who’ve been critical of the clips have also said we’d see it if we could and hope it’s better than first impressions – there’s nothing “knee-jerk” about looking critically at a film’s promotional material, expressing doubts about it, but being open to watching the film in the hopes that it will surprise us. That’s pretty rational, actually.

    So. Is it available anywhere in the UK?

  • Nick

    Just saw the movie. Nothing memorable. I had such great expectations. One phone call was all that was required.

  • Aroura

    I saw it last night on the Sundance Now website.

    I think the trailer must be intentionally misleading, trying to get some theists to watch it too.

    It was extremely good. It had a few slowish spots with character development early on, but the second half of the movie was completely riveting, right to the very last scene.

    Also, it is getting a lot of poor reviews in places like rotten tomatoes, but I think that is due to the fact that it does not portray blind faith as a virtue, and the vast majority of reviewers are clearly theists.

    Don’t judge this by the trailer, or even other reviews (even mine). I highly suggest you go see it for yourself.

  • Sheepish

    I’m slightly disappointed in the over-simplistic view some of us are taking here. Yes an atheist rants angrily while the theist remains silent, on the whole. Why, though, is he so angry? He seems tortured by the selective ignorance of the doctrine he is being handed and expected to accept, maddened by the effect it (and others much like it) unwittingly but undeniably has on the world’s population. Religious war, (as much of an oxymoron as this phrase is supposed to be considering the teachings of Christianity and other religions on acceptance, forgiveness and love) is a terribly wasteful, heartwrenching and real thing, as it is with all wars. If for no other reason than this, the character is completely justified in his anger. Personally, if one is to take only a face value view on this movie and not think hard about the motivations behind the emotions, one is wasting their money on this movie.

  • If I was a little testy, I apologize. People should, of course, say whatever they want, including being negative about the movie. (And I’m very grateful for the kinder things people had to say about it once they’d seen it.) As a film maker, it can be a little frustrating to get judged out of context. I’m not only talking about judging a movie based on its trailers. To get any movie made is difficult. If you try to make something complex, everything gets more difficult. The presumption is that the American public is too stupid to want to see something halfway smart (never mind a little provocative) and therefore it’s not worth putting money into. So “The Ledge”, for example, was shot in twenty or thirty days less than the average mainstream Hollywood movie. To give you an idea of how difficult this makes things: all the discussions between the atheist and the fundamentalist were shot in a single day, and I had three days to shoot the risky and technically complicated ledge sequences. I loved shooting the movie, I was very lucky to have such terrific actors, a great cinematographer, and the supportive producers who managed to get “The Ledge” financed when the movie business was at its lowest point for decades. I am proud of the movie. But it’s a start not an end. Wait until you see the next one… A love story set in 15th Century Italy, a mad Dominican friar, religious insanity, and a very tough female lead who certainly passes whatever that test is called.

  • Petrucio

    I just saw this movie and I have to say that if you have not seen it, it indeed makes absolutely no sense to try to discuss it the way many are doing here. Go see it when you can. Fill the theaters when it comes near you – I know I would if I could. It may not be the next Godfather, but for an indie production on such a topic, I can’t recommend it enough.

    And I do agree that this all does seem a bit “backbiting” or “self-destructive”. Look at what this guy has accomplished, and what he’s trying to do! Shame on some of you…

    And he is even participating in the discussion, how cool is he? Thank you Matthew Chapman!

  • Rich Wilson

    Here’s what I wrote on ChristianPost.com

    The movie isn’t about Christians and Atheists. It’s about humans. Religion is one of the human factors explored and contrasted in each character. The movie is no more ‘anti Christian’ than The Godfather is ‘Anti Catholic’. The movie doesn’t attempt to represent ‘Christian faith’. It attempts to represent the varying ways different faiths affect different people.

    (that was in response to a Christian assuming the movie would be offensive to true believers)

    I give it a thumbs up. Sure, I have a few complaints, but no movie is perfect.

    The very last scene in particular I thought was very good.



    I would like to explain what people refer to as “The Gospel” or “Good News”.  In this explanation, I will discuss God’s grace, which unfortunately so many people do not understand or have never been clearly explained.  

    Unfortunately, many people attend a Christian church regularly (or attended one in the past) but have never been clearly taught what the Bible stresses as the most important decision that one could ever make.   It is only in making this decision that one actually becomes one of God’s children and is “saved” from His eternal judgment.  This decision deals with what is referred to as “The Gospel”.  If you have never heard “The Gospel” before, here it is.  Around 33 AD, Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, paid the price for every single person’s sin in history by dying the death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.  He willingly died for every person’s sin that has ever lived and every will live.  That includes both you and me.  He willing died a death that we deserve for our moral failures in life.  Jesus was brutally beaten, whipped, mocked, spit upon, nailed to a wooden cross, and then died.  Three days later, He rose from the dead, as He foretold His disciples (group of followers).  Jesus then ascended into heaven forty days later.  He currently lives with God, His father, in heaven today.  During Old Testament times (times prior to the birth of Jesus Christ – B.C.), people had a keen awareness of their moral guilt, as any honest person still does today.  I know that I have wronged many people and have felt a deep-seated guilt within many areas of my life.  Many people during Old Testament times sacrificed animals to God as a form of limited atonement for their immoral actions.  God often accepted these sacrifices, but only in a temporary and limited way.  Over time, God changed this extremely limited form of atonement, as He had planned from the very beginning of time.  Moreover, God sent His one and only son Jesus Christ down to the Earth.  Since Jesus was both sinless and blameless, He willingly died on the cross as an unlimited atonement.  It was in God’s will for His son to die in this way.  This unlimited atonement is available to any person who whole-heartedly repents of their sins (moral failures) and then asks God to personally apply Jesus’ undeserved death and resurrection as a payment for their sins.  It is imperative here that one believes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was ultimately an act of God’s grace.  God did not have to offer an escape from our moral guilt and eternal punishment.  However, God is gracious.  He has a compassion and love for people that is indescribable.  God wants to “wipe the slate” clean for us, in regards to our moral failures.  Through this action, we could then enter a personal relationship with His son Jesus Christ and escape his eternal judgment.  The Bible refers to moral failures as ‘sin’, or missing the mark of God’s perfect standard of morality.  “Sin” is an ancient archery term for an arrow that missed the target.  God is loving in the purest sense of the word and would like to grant us victory over the sins that still haunt us from our past.  All we have to do is accept this gift of grace from Him.  It is free.  

    God promises us a way to become morally blameless and gain entrance into heaven after living our physical live here on Earth.  Here is what we must willingly do on our part.  First off, we must truly believe that God is gracious and extended His grace by allowing His one and only son to die as a ransom for our sins on the cross.  We must admit to God that we have failed morally during our lifetime and that Jesus Christ’s brutal death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could ever forgive our sins.  After making this decision (accepting God’s grace), we are immediately forgiven of all past, present, and future sins.  In addition, we would be guaranteed entrance into heaven after our physical death here on Earth.  We would then live with both God and His son Jesus forever.  We would be guaranteed to see all of our loved ones who had made this decision during his or her physical lives on Earth.

    You could make this decision today.  Please do not wait for the “perfect time”.  You could ask God for eternal forgiveness through applying the death and resurrection of Jesus to your life within the quietness of your bedroom tonight.  This is the most important decision that you will ever make.  

    So you might be asking, “Where in the Bible does it explain what has just been summarized?”  Here are some passages clearly stating that Jesus seeks a personal relationship with us:

    “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 
      – Romans 10:9-10

    “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; “
    – Acts 3:19

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
      – John 3:16

    As long as you repent of your past sins (moral failures) from the heart, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and apply Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross as a payment for your sins, you are guaranteed eternal life with God in heaven.  You can make this decision at any time, anywhere.  You can make this decision alone with God or within a group setting.    

    Please know that one cannot sit the fence on making this decision of accepting God’s gift of grace.  If one chooses not to decide, he or she has still made a choice.  This would be like receiving a check (hearing “The Gospel”) but never endorsing and cashing it in at the bank (personally applying Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection towards one’s sins).

    “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” 
    – John 3:18

    The result of not choosing to accept Gods gift of grace, which offers eternal life with both Him and Jesus in heaven is clear.  You will live the remainder of your life here on Earth apart from Jesus Christ and His empowerment.  You will then follow your life plan and not His plan for you.  After you physically die, you will then be brought to a dark place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  It is a place of eternal regret.  Here, you will remember this very letter and how you were told the truth but chose not to repent and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Remember, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.  You could be diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow or be the recipient of a head-on collision while returning home on that all too familiar, two-lane highway this Friday night.  If you are considering starting your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please do not wait to make this decision.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.

    The following passage outlines the only requirements Jesus Christ has set to both gain eternal life and begin a personal relationship with Him while you are still alive here on Earth.  He makes it crystal-clear in the Bible what is required… 

    “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 
      – Romans 10:9-10

    God has a plan for your life.  You can watch this plan unfold once you accept His gift of grace.  This great plan involves your life experience while here on Earth and continues after your physical death on into heaven. 

    “For I know the plans that I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” 
    – Jeremiah 29:11-13

    Please consider what I have said here.  I am not sure if you have ever made this decision before, but I needed to make sure that you had the facts.  If you should decide that you want to learn more about the life of Jesus and gain a better understanding of authentic Christianity, I strongly recommend reading the book of John within the Bible (NASB or NIV translation).  

    In closing, here is a verse that someone once shared with me that finally brought me into a relationship with God during an extremely low point physically and emotionally.  The understanding of Jesus’ desire to know me personally changed my life forever.  Here it is:

    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  
    – Revelation 3:20

  • Dultaco

    Agreed! No offense to the director, but if all these people think this is genius then they are crazy! I get it, but I don’t get it too!

  • Bobmac

    Not everyone is a conversative mindless Christian either. Douche!

  • Bobmac

    This movie was stupid!! Crappy weak story that i wasted some of my life watching! Terrance Howard wasted away on another role. Charlie, stick to Sons of Anarchy or Green Street Hooligans. Here’s one for the Christians, this movie was GAY! I’m sure you might not ever see this post and you probably think im not intelligent, but I do my job better than you do yours!!

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