The Handmaid's Tale - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Handmaid's Tale Reviews

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December 9, 2017
1985 a novel release that had an immediate and significant impact on the popular culture, Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaidens Tale.' It had been over 20 years since feminism had taken hold sparked by demonstrations of bra burning that led to national legislation to help achieve gains in legally enforced equality for women. The story was a cautionary tale about a dystopian future where the majority of women have been rendered infertile. Women that are still capable of childbearing co-opted as the property of the state relegated to the category of Handmaidens. Their sole purpose in society is to bear children for the barren wives. This ituation became possible when a group of an aggressive faction of ultra-conservative evangelical Christians was overthrown the Federal government by force. This resulted in the complete replacement of the federal system of government with a militarized theocracy referred to as the Republic of Gilead. The book was a major success in anticipation for a film interpretation was intense. Unfortunately, when the film was released, it fell far short of expectations. A significant portion of the reason for this failure was a result of the narrative voice of the story. The book resembled the main character's personal diary, related to the audience as a first-person internal monologue. This permits only events personally seen by the protagonist an opportunity to be realistically included in the adaptation. It also precludes the use of any deeply personal motives that drive the action of secondary characters. Telling the story is severely restricted to only events and personal reactions directly experienced by the narrator.

A young woman named Kate (Natasha Richardson) adjusts offered a monumental loss with the death of a husband and daughter. As horrific as this might be the recent changes in vascular government has made the circumstances catastrophic. A fundamentalist Christian organization, the 'Sons of Jacob,' were responsible for a precisely executed overthrow the government. The president and most of Congress were dead, and the Constitution revoked entirely. In Its place under draconian theocracy was established primarily based on some of the divine laws set in the Hebrew Scriptures. Society was re-organized it on a gender and caste based hierarchy creating an oligarchy indisputably by the men in the upper echelon of the religious organization. For years fertility has been declining until now is that a dangerously low point in a substantial number of women ought to be unable to bear children. In accordance to the new social strata were designated as handmaidens, assigned to high-ranking men with infertile wives. Under this new social system, women are stripped of almost all rights and privileges retained by the upperclassmen. Kate was assigned to the Commander (Robert Duval), who is believed to be one of the architects of the new world order. His wife, Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway) was a former televangelist before the Reformation. Kate has a name change to Ofred, a process of contraction for' Of Fred,' believed to be the first name of the Commander. Before actually moving into the Commander's household, subjecting Ofred to a program of instruction designed to dismantle any thoughts of independence and reinforce a new role as a servant and copy binder of a new master. Orfred nee Kate had lost her husband to the border guards as they try to immigrate to Canada. With 99% of the women rendered infertile the fact that Kate had a daughter condemned to a life of forced pregnancies and servitude.

The Biblical justification for this unusual means of reproduction derived from the account of Abraham and Sara. When Sara was unable to conceive, her handmaiden Rachel was charged with providing Abraham with an heir. The Sons of Jacob would rather selective in the adaptation of biblical principles resulting in a harsh, gender biased dictatorship. The portion of the film set in the training camp is fairly standard reminiscent of Cold War movies wanting the American public about the totalitarian dangers of Soviet Union's reeducation camps. Ofred had been a dissident before these objectives of the system, as evident by her husband and son willingness to relocate to Canada. The metaphors used in subtext included in the story had a decidedly different meaning over 30 years ago but still; the light of the current sociopolitical environment that we live in is an eerie sense that the plausibility of the situation is potentially greater now than it was back then. It is understood that childbirth used in the context of the story, is a metaphor for choice. In this society, a woman's choice of whether to become pregnant or not was removed completely. If she were capable of childbearing and children, she would bear regardless of our choice. When this juxtaposed against the current political climate, the right to life in pro-choice remains exceptionally controversial in both religious and political venues. Become a significant driving force determining reports of elections in government policy on all levels of the government from federal down to municipal.

One thing that is evidence even in such a strictly regulated society is that human nature is tough, if not impossible, to legislate. Despite being one of the founders of the new male-dominated culture, The Commander may have been one of the founding fathers of this new nation, but he is not about placing his ego and satisfaction of all the requirements of the law. There is a grandiose, self-aggrandizing feel the hell he treats his wife's hand maiden, in some respects he treats her as an equal allowing her to play Scrabble with him and treat him less like her absolute master and more on a level rate he could openly brag about his accomplishments. Several aspects of the book are presented in a fashion holiday reminiscent of a soap opera. Ofred becomes romantically entangled with one of the workers on the property; chauffeur Nick (Aidan Quinn). Even with such a talented actress as Ms. Richardson was not properly utilized in this film. She portrays her character is devoid of emotion which presumably attributed to wanting to relate to the audience that Kate was in a state of shock after the loss of a husband and son strictly followed by a complete loss of human rights her individuality as a person and a woman.

The alpha male mindset reaches critical when determined that many of the cases of sterility are actually due to the man. As such, even with Handmaidens, no air can be secured. One option that is completely forbidden is to have the wife impregnated by another man; an action considered fornication that carries the death sentence administered by hanging. The dictates of their society require the child be a natural heir of the husband. When taken to such an extreme the wife may be positioned on top of the Handmaiden during intercourse so that symbolically is she was getting pregnant, not the surrogate. Such a position was found in the Bible but was in the context of birth, not conception. Mr. Duval does make every attempt to imbue her sense of realism to his character of the Commander allowing the audience to experience a twinge of sympathy for this character. It is considered fairly well known that some significant changes made during the stories migration from printed page to celluloid film but far too many years have passed since I read the book for me to attempt to be more specific. I was left with the feeling that the poignancy of the story was lost during the change of format. Diehard fans of the story will be glad to learn the online streaming video service, Hulu, is about to release his miniseries they produced that from what I've heard thus far retains the actual spirit of the novel complete with a sense of desperation and hopelessness that strongly resonates in our current society.
½ November 13, 2017
I know there's the series out based on the book(which I've never seen), but I knew the gist of the plot coming into this. It's an interesting story that could very well happen with the way current events are going on in this crazy world. This came out in 1990 and almost had a bit of a made for TV movie quality to it, which isn't terrible but it could have obviously looked better. Robert Duvall is in this as well which is a high point. Not a fan of the open ended finale, but I'm sure it's explained in the books.
July 15, 2017
This is a pretty decent adaptation of the book, which is hard to adapt considering the introspective nature of the book. As this is a vision of the future made in the early '90's, some things don't hold up well. However, the idea of a fundamentalist Christian group taking over is, in the current political climate, a very real and scary possibility.
June 6, 2017
read the book cant wait to see the movie
½ December 23, 2016
A very creepy futuristic world where some (and I don't know what the criteria is for picking which) women are enslaved and forced to birth the children of their masters. A weird, creepy world. But, admittedly, strangely enticing a film.
½ March 29, 2016
I could see this actually happening if the extreme right took over.....
February 12, 2016
I have to admit this makes an excellent movie primarily because the material itself is extremely strong. Cinema wise; it manages fine. And the performances are all chilling. It cant be taken as a realy blame when you need a movie to last longer so you can explore this universe deeper , is it? Id think its a quality
½ August 22, 2015
Works Better As A Political View-Point Written In The Original Novel, For Which It Won All It's Awards & Controversy. The Very Left-Field Thinking Doesn't Transfer Well To Screen But The Original Premise Still Has An Eerie Reality..Just Not Very Engaging. "We Are All Here In The Name Of Doodee!!", Ain't That The Tooth. ;-)
½ May 28, 2015
The film itself was great, by being a controversial feminist film. Natasha Richardson was gorgeous. But compared to the novel, much of the important aspects of the dystopian society was missing, and I felt as though the film was not as thrilling. Overall, a nice film to watch when you want to feel a little bit better about your current life.
½ January 21, 2015
I think the movie abridged to much from the book to be good. Many elements that connected you (or disconnected you) from the characters were missing. Not a fair representation of the book at all.
½ October 17, 2014
A weak adaptation of Atwood's famous novel, in addition to a rushed, cliché ending that deviates far from the novel.
July 21, 2013
Margaret Atwoods novel "The Handmaid's Tale" is among the very best I have ever read. In this chillingly plausible dystopian science fiction tale Atwood imagined a future where an unspecified ecological disasters has rendered most of women infertile. A totalitarian state imposing Christian fundamentalism has formed in North America with a reign that has stripped women of their civil rights. Most of them die young in slave labour, and the few remaining fertile ones are forced into sexual slavery for the lead figures of the military junta running the government. They are called "handmaids" and they are raped by their owner as the man's wife keeps them down in a twisted ritual insemination.

In 1990 director Volker Schlöndorff took on the task of bringing Atwood's ingenious vision onto the silver screen. Legendary scribe Harold Pinter adapted the novel into a script which is as much Pinter as it is Atwood. The lead role of Offred, a fertile woman serving as a handmaid finally went to Natasha Richardson.

The novel's strength was in the hauntingly subdued narration of Offred. A woman who used to live as a free woman before the fundamentalist revolution, she had already lost her identity to slavery. The prose showed her subtle awakening from extreme submission, a tale that poignantly illuminated the psychology of oppressed people. Schlöndorff's cinematic storytelling has to overcome the heavy literacy of the source material, which means that the movie is way more direct in its statements. Offred is anything but subdued, Richardson's performance radiates defiance and rage. She is fully aware of the insanity of the society around her, and she remembers her lost freedom vividly. Also, the Offred of the film connects more directly with the characters around her, whereas the novel's protagonist was always alone and detached, observing everything within herself.

Pinter is a master of vocalizations, which always made him such a good choice for adapting fiction. Here he uses his talent to give Offred a strong and unique voice; she says what she only distantly formulated in her mind in Atwood's paragraphs, acts what she only vaguely felt. The script is, as I already stated, very clearly Pinter. Compared with the novel the movie is quite different, even if the story is essentially the same. A tale of resilience is less interesting and scary than the source material's tale of forgotten identity, but as a movie this adaptation works well. When you mix Atwood with Pinter you can't really go wrong, even as completely different as their approaches are.
June 16, 2013
Decent adaptation of the book but I'd like to see someone make another attempt. Faye Dunaway's performance is the standout.
½ March 23, 2013
Vale a pena ler o livro pq, como sempre, algumas partes do filme ficam bem mal-explicadas. No entanto, todas as cenas mais importantes estão representadas e, no geral, achei um bom filme pra época em que foi feito.
½ March 22, 2013
Terrible adaptation of such a great book!
½ February 22, 2013
Intelligent science fiction with good actors.
December 20, 2012
The book is very good.
½ December 11, 2012
Really badly done, this looks like a very low-budget TV movie, at best. This was at the top of my Netflix queue since she died and just came in the mail. I think they have like one copy worldwide.
½ July 14, 2012
Tale leaves you with an uneasy feeling. I love Duvall and he plays his role well. The movie has a futuristic mood about it but seems believable which is what makes it a chilling tale.
½ May 17, 2012
I couldn't tell how I was supposed to feel about the movie, but I was definitely angry the whole time.
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