The Handmaid’s Tale (1990)

The Handmaid's Tale (1990) movie poster

director  Volker Schlöndorff
viewed: 04/08/2017

Q: Which ‘topia?
A: Dystopia

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 speculative fiction novel The Handmaid’s Tale is very of the moment in 2017 United States, as are a number of works depicting dystopias and bleak futures under fascism. And of course there is the new show about to start, re-adapting the novel. Which is good, because Volker Schlöndorff’s 1990 film didn’t really manage to capture it all that well.

Schlöndorff almost literally adapts the book, and the cast is good, featuring Natasha Richardson (RIP), Faye Dunaway, Elizabeth McGovern and Robert Duvall as reasonable facsimilies of the characters of the book.

But outside of a couple of scenes of masses of people being shoved around, the film doesn’t succeed very well. Many, including Richardson herself, felt that the film needed a voiceover narrative as the book comes from the interior of Offred (Richardson). But who knows? Hopefully the new show will hit it right.

I would like to single out Elizabeth McGovern, though. Her Moira was one of the best things in the film, despite her relatively limited screen time.

Hopefully we can turn the tide here and not let America devolve into Gilead. It’s going to take a lot of work.

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