We’re due for a timely revisiting of a powerful vision of the future with Hulu’s big-budget TV series based on the 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The show stars Elisabeth Moss as Offred, and features a cast which includes Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski and Max Minghella.
Margaret Atwood’s novel imagines a war-torn future in which part of a fractured United States of America is a theocractic Republic named Gilead. Human sterility is a casualty of war, and in Gilead the subjugation of women is pillar on which its dictatorship is borne.
A movie adaptation of Atwood’s disturbing story made its way to the cinemas in 1990 with Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation starring Natasha Richardon and Faye Dunaway. The film has aged less well than the novel, though Harold Pinter’s screenplay keeps up the unease and increasing urgency extremely well. Another recent touchstone may well be Mark Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, in which a world similarly to ours suffers a moral sinkhole and we stand on the edge peering down.
The novel has retained its power since publication in 1985, that Hulu are throwing themselves behind a new TV series is testament to that. That is it timely also is no coincidence. The fight to keep the powers that be (or powers that might soon be) from their crusade against the individual freedoms we often taken for granted has lead to uproar on all sides of the political sphere. The Handmaid’s Tale does what all great works of art do, it holds a mirror up to us as we are now, and warns us to tread lightly.
Here’s the very first look at The Handmaid’s Tale, which airs on the 26th of April on Hulu.
The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer