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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

March. 09,1990
| Drama Science Fiction

In a dystopicly polluted rightwing religious tyranny, a young woman is put in sexual slavery on account of her now rare fertility.


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Margaret Atwood's future is bleak. The world has deteriorated into a Combination of poisoned air and water and women are 99% infertile. The men in charge have developed an elaborate system for selecting those still able to produce children. Kate (Natasha Richardson) is captured attempting to escape to Canada and is forced to become a handmaiden, as in the Old Testament. The commander (Robert Duvall), is married to Serena (Faye Dunaway), who is too old to have children, and so Kate becomes a surrogate. A bizarre ritual follows, with the commander doing the deed with the handmaid resting between Serena's legs. The government has a school of sorts, where the women are brainwashed with constant religious and patriotic messages. The story is strongly influenced by both Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. 1984 was written in 1948, and Atwood's book in 1985. Even though they have similar themes, Handmaid stands out as an accurate look at our current situation. The right to privacy has become a sick joke and we are sedated by reality television, with its mastermind now in charge. A truly frightening movie , one perfectly appropriate for our current times.

Sarah C.

This movie made me dig up my old IMDb account I never planned on reviving, that's how bad I find it to be although feel free to ignore my post because I liked the book better so I might be a little biased here. Those who didn't read the book might find this movie tolerable.The top reason I dislike this movie is because it utterly disregards the last meta-fictional part of the book which was so crucial to the story written by Margaret Atwood. The entire narration is actually a lost diary of your very average person who is no writer but finds herself suddenly trapped in the cogs of theocratic totalitarianism and still manages to "record" her thoughts on tapes and paper (what you read) to preserve her sanity just like Winston Smith from Nineteen Eighty-Four did which later is found and used as a retrospective account of a "bygone world" in a free civilization that studies barbaric aspects of its history, giving it a rather optimistic ending which was absent in the movie or just replaced with a watered-down Hollywoodish "I'll find you, baby. Oh look, it's the auspicious sunset *faces the sunset while smiling*" ending (living as an "unwoman" in a trailer park, is that Volker Schlöndorff's idea how to end this movie?).Handmaid's Tale without its proper context as a historic "document" is just pointless. Film adaptations like this convince me that some books are simply impossible to be adapted either out of budget reasons or other and if you still go ahead and make it, you'll end up with a pointless Hollywood's assembly line flick that shares original work's name only and is nothing but an empty shell of it, filled with popcorn audience-appeasing violent filler.Two stars for costumes which were far more impressive than those I made up in my head and the "All-Seeing Eye" design which while not original (you can see it on every one dollar bill, the symbol of Christianity's Trinity) is still profound and in this hypothetical world probably as scary as a Nazi Germany's swastika.- - P.S. One would be really tempted to draw parallels with what's happening in the US in 2017 and the plot of Handmaid's Tale with Planned Parenthood being threatened to be defunded, abortion clinics all over the country threatened to lose federal funding unless they, um, stop performing abortions, evangelical-approved far-right "Family Groups," one of them designated as a "hate group" by the Southern Law Poverty Center, sent to the UN Women's Rights Conference (2017) as representatives of US women's interest (I wish this was satire) and while the President was not shot yet and replaced with federal theocratic dictators that systematically tread on the rights of women I think that's all it is, a tempting suggestion. I wouldn't be so far from right if I called it a "cautionary tale" though.(2018 update: Flick is hardly worth even one star, let's be honest now.)


The reason why I got to watch this because the late Natasha Richardson was involved in this. However the storyline with her becoming a slave for no apparent reason.Like why was her character arrested and become a slave for no apparent reason? Also why was the husband shot and the young daughter wandering around to find her parents?I mean I tried to remain interested when watching this movie because I wanted to find out what was happening. In the end, I just had to move onto another movie in which I would be able to understand better and clearer than this!!!


A number of others have noted that the book, film and all associated with it indulged in a series of cheap shots against America and its Christian culture. That is absolutely true. The author, who had visited Afganistan and was aware that her distopia was a close cousin to Islamic society as it actually exists. All concerned didn't have the guts to state the obvious connections between the nightmare world of the Handmaid's Tale and Islam. They would rather imagine that the country that has consistently given the greatest gifts of liberty, opportunity and bountiful living to many -- including women -- would somehow turn into a nightmare landscape ruled by the imaginary right. Oh but wait. It is inching there as we watch but it is the ever deceitful left that is dragging us and it is dragging us all and instead of a land in which some women wail and cry, it is for all of us to weep. This movie is a reminder that beating up on America is easy and noticing that there are real distopias where women face death every day could end in a knifing in the streets of Europe.