The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Book to Movie adaptation

I’m sure you can see it from the featured image; the aesthetics are completely different and while the amazing cover by Vintage is preparing us for a fascinating journey into uncharted literary territories, the movie poster seems to allude to a hyper-sexualised story about prostitutes (?) maybe. To be fair, the first cover was rather different but equally representative of the material.

Let’s roll up our sleeves. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the most important books in my reading life; a revelation of sorts. While I was reading it, I kept getting madder and madder but also sadder and sadder with each passing page. I was so convinced that the dystopian world that Margaret Atwood was describing was true that I could barely contain my outrage and be silent while reading. That, in my opinion, is the mark of great science fiction. The kind that speaks the truths of today in the guise of the future. The one that describes the current socioeconomical status in a way that is disturbing but at the same time distant enough that you can absorb it without bias. Well, with a minimum of bias. See here for a full description of the book, I just write my feelviews here.

The movie now. The movie was, well, how can I say this? – Disappointing! Yes, that’s it. It did manage to capture that oppressive feeling jamming down your chest with its gloomy brownish colours and the downcast faces of the actors. And this is the one good thing I have to say about it. I believe the adaptation never went deep enough into the subconscious of the story (pretentious much?) and was limited by a lukewarm presentation of a brilliant revelatory book. Natasha Richardson -as Offred- was colourless, Faye Dunaway -as Serena Joy- was a stereotypical privileged white upper-class woman (this reminded me of the Stepford Wives), while the men were a bit ornamental. Sometimes, even if you have the amazing material (the book), the talented screenwriter (Harold Pinter) and the great cast, you might still miss the mark. I guess that’s what Volker Schlöndorff (the director) did and the movie got a depressing 6/10 in “IMDB” and 23% in “Rotten Tomatoes”.

Verdict: no surprises here. A failed adaptation of a masterpiece. Read the book and skip the movie.

Thank you and goodmorning!

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