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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)
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Popularity
1,625 ( 209)
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

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

The lead role of Kate/Offred was offered to Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver, the latter of whom had to drop out when she got pregnant. See more »

Goofs

Women of all classes are forbidden to read, but when Moira goes to tell Aunt Lydia the bet is stopped up, Aunt Lydia is reading a book. See more »

Quotes

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


Soundtracks

Amazing Grace
Written by John Newton
Sung by Laura Baxter
(P) 1990 GNP Crescendo Records
© 1990 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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