The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi  |  9 March 1990 (USA)
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In a dystopicly polluted rightwing religious tyranny, a young woman is put in sexual slavery on account of her now rare fertility.


(novel), (screenplay)
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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The haunting story of two sisters and the secrets that bind them throughout several decades, both in life and death, as revealed through a cult novel titled "The Blind Assassin".



Cast overview, first billed only:
Kate / Offred
Serena Joy
Aunt Lydia
Janine / Ofwarren
Zoey Wilson ...
Aunt Helena
Kathryn Doby ...
Aunt Elizabeth
Luke (as Rainer Schoene)
Lucia Hartpeng ...
Karma Ibsen Riley ...
Aunt Sara
Lucile McIntyre ...
Officer on Bus


Set in a Fascistic future America, The Handmaid's Tale tells the story of Kate, a handmaid. In this America, the religious right has taken over and gone hog-wild. Kate is a criminal, guilty of the crime of trying to escape from the US, and is sentenced to become a Handmaid. The job of a Handmaid is to bear the children of the man to whom she is assigned. After ruthless group training by Aunt Lydia in the proper way to behave, Kate is assigned as Handmaid to the Commander. Kate is attracted to Nick, the Commander's chauffeur. At the same time, a resistance movement begins to challenge the regime. Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Branded: Sold: Controlled See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

9 March 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A História da Aia  »

Box Office


$4,960,385 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio turned down the role of Moira, before Elizabeth McGovern was then cast. See more »


When Aunt Lydia introduces herself to the prospective Handmaids, a slow-moving freight train is rolling through the background. This train disappears when she snaps her fingers. See more »


Aunt Lydia: You are the lucky ones. You are going to serve God and country. I pronounce you handmaids.
See more »


Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #7.4 (1994) See more »


Save A Soul In Every Town
Written by Henry Priestman
Published by 10 Music Ltd.
Performed by The Christians
Courtesy of Island Records
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User Reviews

great book but why did the creators decide to ruin this film?
26 May 2004 | by (Leeds, England) – See all my reviews

I have just one point to make about this film, and that is why on earth did the director decided to name Offred kate. In the book, which I hope to god the producers etc actually read, there is no mention of the name kate what so ever, the only name that we could possibly guess would be June which is supplied to us in the first chapter but even then we never learn her real name. And this is of great significant importance, the fact that we as readers or viewers never learn her name means something and to simply choose a name out of a hat is destroying a piece of the character created for us by Margaret Attwood. Also reading the plot outline makes me wonder whether whoever wrote that even saw the film, especially where it says "Kate is a criminal, guilty of the crime of trying to escape from the US, and is sentenced to become a Handmaid." when really "KATE" becomes a handmaid as her husband was married once before and their marriage never really existed in the eyes of the law. Also i read on to see that "After ruthless group training by Serena Joy in the proper way to behave, Kate is assigned as Handmaid to the Commander." Well that is not at all true as anyone who has seen this film will notice that Serena Joy is the commanders wife and not one of the Aunts and the Red Centre. Please in the future get your facts right and also thanks to director Volker Schlöndorff for ruining a perfectly enjoyable book. My advice stick to the book and not the watered down version for the small minded.

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