Sounds like Franklyn might be good, but I have reservations
I happened to stumble across this post about an upcoming movie from the UK called Franklyn. As an atheist, I found it slightly bizarre, I had never thought that a movie plot would make a point of indicating that the lead character is an atheist. The plot, as it is described, certainly makes me think that atheism is being presented in a positive light but a few things worry me.
Firstly, labelling a character as an atheist would open the door to hasty generalisation; presuming all atheists behave as the character is portrayed or believe exactly what the character believes.
Secondly, the atheism is used as a plot device for the age-old story of rebellious heroism in a parallel world (called Meanwhile City – here religion is used as the “opiate of the masses” to control the population) where the only form of rebellion would be atheism – there was no choice in how to become a hero there. And it seems to me to indicate that atheism is less relevant in the real world, only in fantasy realms where religion is “misused”.
Thirdly, the plot outlines that I have read obviously don’t give away the ending so we have no idea if there is a massive plot twist which ultimately reveals the rebel was wrong or perhaps that an unexplained co-incidence finally caused the hero to adopt a theistic view to explain the meaning of the carefully written co-incidence (a la M. Night Shyamalan’s awful movie Signs).
However, I would love to watch this film and find that I was wrong about my reservations.
While I was investigating this movie, I began to wonder whether there have been atheist characters presented in a positive light in the past and I came across this list of atheist characters in movies at the Atheist Empire. It is a short list of four movies which I had to think about carefully to remember that the characters were atheists. So in that respect, Franklyn is definitely breaking new ground, and for that it gets my tentative support.
And while we are on the topic of movies; Bill Maher’s Religulous is slated to start on 14 November in South Africa (according to the forthcoming attractions on the NuMetro website). I’ll be making reservations for my seat as soon as the tickets start going on sale.