6.0/10
7,820
67 user 38 critic

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
260 ( 45)

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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:

A haunting tale of sexuality in a country gone wrong. 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

Gross USA:

$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

In the book, the story takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, predominantly in Harvard Square, on the Harvard campus, and in the general area. Harvard Square is a very busy place, however, and it would have been almost impossible to clear the Square for the scenes in question. In addition, Harvard University has a "no filming" policy that prohibits any filming from taking place on their campus. North Carolina substituted. See more »

Goofs

When Kate goes into Nick's apartment for the first time, she hangs her coat on the coat rack but in the next shot it's shown hanging over the back of a chair. See more »

Quotes

Luke: I'll distract them. Run!
See more »


Soundtracks

Overture/Snow/Prison Camp/On the Bus/Old Hundredth (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow)
Composed and performed by Ryuichi Sakamoto
(P) 1990 GNP Crescendo Records
© 1990 Ryuichi Sakamoto / Cinecom Entertainment Group Inc.
Licensed through Cinecom Entertainment Group Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
unconvincing dystopian fable
25 November 2010 | by mjneu59See all my reviews

There's nothing subtle about this screen adaptation of Margaret Atwood's cautionary fable, but the premise is nothing if not provocative: in a repressive fundamentalist dictatorship (called Gilead, but ostensibly America in the near future) the few remaining fertile women are forced to bear children, in effect becoming sexual servants to the (male) powers-that-be. Gilead may be colored red, white and blue, but there's more than a passing resemblance to Orwell's Oceana; even the act of conception is reduced to a ritual, with the euphemism 'ceremony' doubling for intercourse. A talented cast does its best with Harold Pinter's typically inscrutable screenplay, but under Volker Schlondorff's dispassionate direction the film never achieves a convincing level of oppression or paranoia. Worse, it lacks a story to match its scenario; the handmaid Offred's redemption is achieved only with the help of another man, which seems to deflate the feminist slant. The final result is nowhere near a successful movie, but never less than a fascinating failure.


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