With "cool eroticism, intelligence and intensity" (Playboy), this eerie futuristic thriller,based on Margaret Atwood's controversial and critically acclaimed best-selling novel, is filled with "large themes and deep thoughts" (Roger Ebert). Boasting a phenomenal cast, including Natasha Richardson (Nell) and Oscar(r) winners* Faye Dunaway (Network) and Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies), this film "dazzles with its ingenuity and shocks with its outrageousness" (WNCN Radio)! In the not-so-distant future, strong-willed and beautiful Kate (Richardson) possesses a precious commodity that most women have lost and most men want to control fertility. Forced into a brain-washing boot camp that turns fertile women into surrogate mothers for social-elite men and their infertile wives, Kate thinks she's made out well when she's assigned to an eminent partyleader (Duvall). But when she learns that he's sterile, she's faced with the impossible choice: produce him an heir or die! *Dunaway: Actress, Network (1976); Duvall: Actor, Tender Mercies (1983)
Set in a time when a buildup of toxic chemicals has made most people sterile, Volker Schlondorff's film offers a disturbing view of a society under martial law in which fertile women are captured and made into handmaids to bear children for rich and infertile matrons. The film unfolds from the eyes of newly converted handmaid Kate (Natasha Richardson). She is trapped in this mysogynistic society which both deifies these fertile women as prized possessions and condemns them as whores. Throughout the story Kate has to cope with the jealousy of the woman she serves (Faye Dunaway), the advances of her sleazy military husband (the Commander, played by Robert Duvall), and the loss of her daughter, who has been shuttled off to a similarly aristocratic setting. She also falls in love with one of the Commander's security guards (Aidan Quinn), who sympathizes with her plight and potentially offers her a way out. Throughout The Handmaid's Tale
, issues of feminism, abortion rights, male dominance, and conservative religious politics all come under fire. Some may view the film itself as antifemale considering its concepts, but it is quite the opposite. Instead it shows how only through solidarity can women bring down an overriding patriarchical mindset. The film, which works from Harold Pinter's screenplay adaption of Margaret Atwood's novel
, features strong performances from those mentioned as well as Elizabeth McGovern and Victoria Tennant. --Bryan Reesman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.