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The Handmaid's Tale (1990)

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

Director:

Volker Schlöndorff (as Volker Schlondorff)

Writers:

Margaret Atwood (novel), Harold Pinter (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
2,168 ( 196)
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Natasha Richardson ... Kate
Faye Dunaway ... Serena Joy
Aidan Quinn ... Nick
Elizabeth McGovern ... Moira
Victoria Tennant ... Aunt Lydia
Robert Duvall ... Commander
Blanche Baker ... Ofglen
Traci Lind ... Ofwarren / Janine
Zoey Wilson Zoey Wilson ... Aunt Helena
Kathryn Doby Kathryn Doby ... Aunt Elizabeth
Reiner Schöne ... Luke (as Rainer Schoene)
Lucia Hartpeng ... Cora
Karma Ibsen Riley Karma Ibsen Riley ... Aunt Sara
Lucile McIntyre Lucile McIntyre ... Rita
Gary Bullock ... Officer on Bus
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

See it...while it's still allowed See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 March 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Handmaid's Tale See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$738,578, 11 March 1990

Gross USA:

$4,960,385

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,960,385
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jamie Portman has cited Natasha Richardson's retrospective viewpoint on the screenplay by Harold Pinter for the CanWest News Service by stating, "Richardson recognized early on, the difficulties in making a film out of a book which was 'so much a one-woman interior monologue' and with the challenge of playing a woman unable to convey her feelings to the world about her, but who must make them evident to the audience watching the movie. She thought the passages of voice-over narration in the original screenplay would solve the problem, but then Pinter changed his mind, and Richardson felt she had been cast adrift. 'Harold Pinter has something specific against voice-overs', she said angrily nineteen years ago, 'speaking as a member of an audience, I've seen voice-over and narration work very well in films a number of times, and I think it would have been helpful had it been there for 'The Handmaid's Tale'. After all, it's her story. In the end, Volker Schlöndorff sided with Richardson." Wikipedia states: "Portman does not acknowledge Pinter's already-quoted account that he gave both Schlondorff and source novelist Margaret Atwood 'carte blanche' to make whatever changes they wanted to his script, because he was too 'exhausted' from the experience to work further on it. In 1990, when she reportedly made her comments quoted by Portman, Richardson herself may not have known that." See more »

Goofs

A man is giving a speech denouncing women. He lists one of their sins as "test-tube babies" (on the soundtrack), but his mouth is clearly saying something else. See more »

Quotes

Preacher: We pledge allegiance to the Bible. The Old Testament shall be our sole and only Constitution.
See more »


Soundtracks

Bereavement
Written by Otto Sieben
Published by Sonoton/Associated Production Music
Courtesy of Sonoton/Associated Production Music
See more »

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User Reviews

In some ways a very frightening movie
5 August 2002 | by nw_sorensenSee all my reviews

The Handmaid's Tale goes a long way to show just what could possibly happen if some religious establishment were to take control of the government. In the movie you can plainly see the horrific amount of mysoginy and mistreatment of women that was commonplace in times past and is prevalant in many societies today. I think that the overall concept of the movie is good, but I think that the presentation of it could have been better. The characters seemed to lack depth and like other comments I have read, the directing was horrible. I can understand that there must have been some difficulty in adapting Atwood's book to movie format since the original story is solely from the viewpoint of Offred (the handmaid). I can certainly see that the screenwriters tried to stick to one of Atwood's main points in the story of the mysoginy and facism of the group that had taken control. The movie shows the wisdom of keeping a strict separation of church and state.


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