12 Top Atheism Movies of All Time that Will Change your Religious Beliefs
There have hardly been any movies that explicitly prompt atheism or its equivalents. The primary reason behind this being the mutiny that they potentially might cause in a world of staunch believers. Nevertheless, storytelling is an art that has its own way of achieving its purpose. So there still are movies that have taken us very close to a world where the concept of God is put to a test. Any such movie which strides on the path this difficult has to have very strong characters. The first episode of Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s movies is The Decalogue (1989), which depicts a man’s struggle to measure the world through the lens of reason, many events cause him to succumb to the heavenly figures he had been rejecting otherwise. Many of the films in the list dealing with the main characters who have desires, who are scared of people in the world, and who are also stuck in the bold narrative. This article is in no way meant to question or in any way hurt the readers’ faith. If you find any movie in the list below interesting enough to watch, it’d be best for you to give the concept a deeper thought and hopefully make your decision-making easier in life both personally and professionally.
List of top Atheism Movies:
# The Holy Mountain (1973):
Unlike other movies on the list, this movie is a direct entry because of the message it holds. The story is filled with twists and turns that might come off obvious after a particular period. However, the movie works amusingly better when you realize its implication of the story line. The Holy Mountain is a spiritual drama which can make you trippy when you watch it after getting high. The plot is about 8 disciples of The Alchemist, the master who resides at the top point of the mountain. These disciples believe that they can attain immortality if they reach the top of the mountain. An interesting thing about the film is the names of the protagonists, where the main one is called Tarot. Tarot is the one who is responsible for making things happen and who makes up to the odd members by following people. All of these eight people are influential, powerful and spiritual and are assembled from various planets of the universe. They have the collective goal of reaching their authoritative figure, the Alchemist. The lead of the film is played by Jodorowsky, who imitates the idea of God and who has to guide his followers in a fruitful path. Till the climax where the designated men and women reach the top, we all stay anxious about something being there on the top only to know that there is nothing there. It is then, The Alchemist reveals that the world is full of nothing and that we tend to break the walls during the process. While the disciples stay in a mere belief through the film it is only towards the end, they will realize the reality and decides that it is time that they let go of the desire and the pleasure that they are seeking.
#2 Planet of the Apes (1968):
In the present world, people have become more accepting towards criticism aimed at religion. This makes ‘Planet of the Apes’ a very important movie today as it had asked many right questions very early in time. The story focuses on humans, as we knew them then, they go into the future world, only to witness a dysfunctional planet in which their kind are seen as weird creatures which don’t have a lot of significance when related to the apes that are ruling the world. As these travelers to the future figure out the world around them, the story progresses. The prevalence of a concept such as religion is held responsible for a world such as this, and the way the plot has been weaved around this though is simply genius. In the world that the movie creates, religion is merely a tool used only to cause wars or conflicts. This is something that pits the movie as being extremely relevant to the world today where such instances can be seen everywhere. Planet of Apes is one of the most brilliant films that I have watched personally which is why it has made to the list of atheism movies that prompt that there is no particular power that drives people in this world.
#3 The Seventh Seal (1957):
The Seventh Seal is an interesting philosophical drama directed by Ingmar Bergman who will not criticize the religion directly but is responsible for the breaking the foundation of films that prompt the irrational beliefs. This has put the plot in a lot of speculation where there brief moments for the included characters while reflecting on the faiths. The protagonist, Antonius Block gets confronted with the death who tells that his time has come. This crusader uses the smarts and tries to lure the death into a game of chess so that he can stall the death and have lived on his own. After a lot of moments, you will witness a brilliant scene where Block talks to a priest and confesses all of his doubts with respect to the religious concepts. During the Q&A session, he addresses that all the human problems occur because of the trust and beliefs that people invest in the god. He also says that even if he is ready to believe the concept of god, he is not able to because it takes a lot of blind faith and absence of evidence. He also adds that God has never answered his prayers and this leaves him in major confusion.
#4 Life of Brian (1979):
Following the life of a man called Brian Cohen born on the same day as Jesus Christ, in a manger right next to his, the movie trails his sorry existence as he is often confused with the almighty son of Jesus. People start to expect him to perform supernatural things otherwise impossible for human beings. Upon its release, ‘Life of Brian’ way because of how offensively it handled its subject material. The tragic life of Brian ends with the worst luck the man could have ever received. In the end, he is set to be crucified as well. The film’s view on religion has been portrayed very clearly. Through Brian’s life, the film deals in how religion treats its followers like sheep who feel or are driven to feel the need to clutch onto anything they believe as reinforcing their faith. The fact that the film handled its content via a light-hearted, comic theme made it all the more blasphemous upon release. But it is the comedy that embellishes the narrative with extra genius. By many film critics, it is considered as the funniest of all the Monty Python films.
#5 Yesterday’s Offerings (1973):
Yesterday’s Offering was the winner of Best Picture at the Indian National Film Awards in 1974. Whether it will receive the same appreciation when released today is highly doubtful. The entire plotline builds promisingly and eventually closes into a shocking yet rebellious final scene that will definitely give chills to the most of you. The narrative is weaved around life of an oracle, who is a devout believer of his god. As the story grows, viewers will experience the man’s life gradually crumble around him. The movie portrays how just holding on to one’s blind belief can lead to nothing. He doesn’t earn much at the village temple, one which is knee-deep in poverty. He is unable in taking care of his family, especially in the way that pleases him. His children wander about aimlessly in life, and his wife remains fixated to the walls of their house. Despite both these personal and professional despair, he does not lose his faith. The filmmaker, MT Vasudevan Nair, tortures his protagonist with his depiction of reality, breaking his ego and blurring his perception of the world around him. In the end, the oracle sees certain events unfold in front of his very eyes that leave him shattered, only moments before a grand ritualistic performance of his, that is to be held at the temple festival and for which he had worked tirelessly to raise funds for. At the festival, as the Goddess enters his body (as per belief), the oracle unexpectedly storms into the interior section of the temple, and looks at the deity presented before him. There are no words spoken, but at that moment, his anger and frustration towards the Goddess are both clearly evident by the way he looks at the statue. In an act of utter disgust and disappointment, the oracle spits on the deity, and faints soon after.
#6 The Gods must be Crazy (1980):
One way of expressing criticism towards religion has been by using comedy as a device.‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’ is another such movie. This brings forth a very important concept, the one about differentiating self-help from God-given assistance. A bottle of Coke that drops from the sky onto land is believed to be a gift of the Gods by a socially isolated African tribe settled in the Kalahari desert. Very soon along the narrative, this gift becomes the root of all their conflicts, as the demand for this bottle, a commodity that none of the inhabitants had earlier used, or even seen, increases irrationally. Every member of the clan wishes to get a hold of it and use it in their own, distinctive ways. Unlike in the real world, after settling their differences aside, the tribe comes to the conclusion that this magical gift from the almighty is a test from above, of the strength of the mutual relationships within their little group. The only way to pass it being the disposal of this terrible artifact. Thus, a tribe representative sets off to the edge of the world, with the gift in his hand, as they don’t wish to keep this present from above that disturbs their peace. Something that the real world has failed at doing today.
#7 The Spirit of the Beehive (1973):
Before getting into the plot, an important point to state is that if you look this movie up for further research anywhere online, chances are that you end up reading about the Franco-dictatorship period, something that this film very subtly opposes. While some of this is definitely interesting, and I really can’t deny the connections, I’d rather talk about this film as an independent piece, the story not held within the shackles of politics. It primarily tells the story of Ana, who is the youngest daughter in a family of four. Isabel, although only slightly older, is Ana’s elder sister. Their father grooms honeybees, and their mother, Teresa, lives in a world of her own. The setting of the movie is in a tiny village in 1940s post-war Spain. The film talks about the manipulation of innocence and how simple words, images, and experiences embed themselves in the subconscious of the gullible and impressionable minds. Here, the gullible minds being the children’s who are the protagonists of the movie. Both the parents are detached from the world in their own ways, trapped within a house that has honeycomb-shaped windows, resembling and symbolical of the abode of the mindless, mechanical insects, all guided or driven into action by their mistress, a Queen Bee. Though comparatively subtle, the movie’s criticism of religion and how it can affect the children the most is extremely well portrayed.
#8 Black Narcissus (1947):
Black Narcissus is a cult film known for the boldest stand that it has taken. It is an amalgamation of many themes including atheism, sexuality as it unravels an erotic tale in the picture. The film is filled with nuns who want to start a school in the Himalayas when they have received a request from one of the famous Indian rulers. After their decision of wearing the cloth, it is their surroundings which allow the characters to adapt to the conditions while influencing the nuns to get reminiscent about their pasts. They are constantly provoked to let things go in order to be very closer to God. This movie is shot in Technicolor, as it is directed by Pressburger and Powell by not taking ordinary steps as it is one of the best films. These films are covered in topics that are not exactly strong but are capable of creating a history of British films until now. This film has a sub-theme that has a western perspective full of Commonwealth nations as it imposes many religious limitations throughout the tale. Towards the end of the film, the sisters start losing the minds with a mixed feeling of both understanding and regret. Black Narcissus is one of the easiest watches which has masterfully weaved beauty in and around.
#9 The Master (2012):
The Master is one of the brilliant films that Paul Thomas Anderson has ever made. The movie shares a lot of similarities with people who support the faith of only one religion while having distinctive thinking when compared with the faiths of other people. The believers have a mindset of thinking that a particular religion is superior to others and that the ones which follow this religion will find a way to heaven. This movie tells the story of Freddie Quell, a veteran from World War II traumatized by the past while finding comfort under Lancaster Dodd, who is the leader of a new religion. He creates a group titled as ‘The Cause’ where all the members are sedated as well as robotic in nature allowing to brainwash the mindset. Dodd wants to convert all the newest disciples through an unpredictable and erratic behavior making things even more difficult. In this movie, the religion that they adapt forces people to think and act in a controlled way. Reached through the manipulation of memories and emotions, the film also shows how these group of members gets trapped within the divinity. The lack of power given to the followers is oblivious until one among them shows change and turns rebellious to them.
#10 Ordet (1955):
‘Ordet’ might not seem like the typical atheist film upon initial viewing. Its plot has the tendency to be one that pretty much praises the faith within humans filled with a final act that has entirely different events depending on the human belief. Still, it’s interesting to note, as people willing to analyze Carl Theodor Dryer’s themes that conclude the actions of all the humans who cave into believing in the almighty emerging from the slow submission turning into extreme insanity, which grows from various events that are going different in the lives. ‘Ordet’ is an intriguing picture that has many ambiguous moments open to heavy interpretation, and the stand on the firm belief happens to be one of those things. The film witnesses a family of strong non-believers letting go of the supposed “inhibitions” so that they can practice the way after lunatic claims himself to be Jesus Christ while being able to convince themselves of powers at this point of time. These people are stranded and defeated by him after a while and then these people destroy him putting us in a place where we would the God be?
#11 Agora (2009):
The film is set long back in the 4th century AD, in the backdrop of Roman Egypt as it retells the Pagan conflict of the Christianized Rome. The center of the film is based on Hypatia, who is an astronomer and a mathematician in the reality who is a science pioneer. It is also known for taking liberties within her identity while portraying her as a sane person and rational believer among the dogmatists and as people surround her with the insanity. While Jews, Pagans and Christians are killing each and another because of the religious differences. Through all the mess, Hypatia tries to understand the meaning of the universe from perspectives that are devoid of the partisanships. Its her curiosity that seizes the planet motions after believing that it is circular and revolves around the planet. She discovers the outdated heliocentricity model that is orbiting around the sun as the knowledge is applied to the system. The system combines the elliptical rotation with the heliocentric model rather than the circular motion as we find perfection without any foundation. The film also cements the understanding of the planetary orbits while cementing the heresy. The lead of the film meddles with her ideas, influence, power, and agnosticism as Alexandria threatening the Ecclesiastics crying over witchcraft. In this list of movies, Agora stands out as one of the most twisted film that I have ever seen.
#12 The Sunset Limited (2011):
The Sunset Limited is less than a film and more of a conversation between theological adversaries, a Christian and an atheist. Samuel L. Jackson plays the role of the Christian while Tommy Lee Jones plays the role of an atheist. The counterparts of the film are forced into philosophical stalemates after Sam saves the atheist from committing suicide. They take their journey as passengers in train to the home city and then to his apartment in order to save the man from nothingness. As the conversation proceeds, it is revealed that the atheist has his valid reasons for the extermination and another round unfolds as we take a round of his apartment. The movie is based on the play by Cormac McCarthy with the same name, as it has amusing dialogues. The Sunset Limited is a movie that has beautiful dialogues. The two return and forward with persuading explanations behind their particular positions. All focuses are estimated and reasonable, and it’s dependent upon the watcher to settle on his or her own choice on the importance—or deficiency in that department—of life. The consummation helps push the watcher the correct way. We won’t ruin it, since the film is more an article than an account, however The Sunset Limited is on this rundown which is as it should be.
Go through the list of the movies and select the one that suits your religious beliefs the most.