The Handmaid's Tale [VHS]
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Product Description

Set in a time when a buildup of toxic chemicals has made most people sterile, Volker Schlondorff's film offers a disturbing view of a society under martial law in which fertile women are captured and made into handmaids to bear children for rich and infertile matrons. The film unfolds from the eyes of newly converted handmaid Kate (Natasha Richardson). She is trapped in this mysogynistic society which both deifies these fertile women as prized possessions and condemns them as whores. Throughout the story Kate has to cope with the jealousy of the woman she serves (Faye Dunaway), the advances of her sleazy military husband (the Commander, played by Robert Duvall), and the loss of her daughter, who has been shuttled off to a similarly aristocratic setting. She also falls in love with one of the Commander's security guards (Aidan Quinn), who sympathizes with her plight and potentially offers her a way out. Throughout The Handmaid's Tale, issues of feminism, abortion rights, male dominance, and conservative religious politics all come under fire. Some may view the film itself as antifemale considering its concepts, but it is quite the opposite. Instead it shows how only through solidarity can women bring down an overriding patriarchical mindset. The film, which works from Harold Pinter's screenplay adaption of Margaret Atwood's novel, features strong performances from those mentioned as well as Elizabeth McGovern and Victoria Tennant. --Bryan Reesman

Customer Reviews:

  • The Handmaid's Tale
    Margaret Atwood's prophetic novel-- so realistic it's scary. An example of what could happen if the religious right were turned loose with power....more info
  • VHS Movie
    Very pleased with the video I received call The Handmaids Tale. I watched it with pleasure and it had no glitches whatsover. I would definately buy from this seller again!...more info
  • Okay Flick, From a Marxist-Feminist Point of View
    It was an okay film, in my opinion. I can see why lots of people like it, though. You need to have a certain socio-feminist perspective, really, to enjoy it. Overall, though, it's a polemic against those who espouse conservative and/or religious values....more info
  • Decent
    This was a decent movie with fair acting and some interesting points, but it fails to go anywhere.

    While we get some background on the necessity of the Handmaids, we never really learn the purpose of the war, or any details like that. The movie is pretty boring, with passive acting which really doesn't stand out, and Natasha Richardson wasn't very convincing at all that she wanted to see her daughter again. I don't know; the book was very good, and although the movie follows it, it lacks something, andis just a long boring mishmash of potential.

    If this is on TV, you might want to watch, but otherwise just read the book and leave it at that....more info

  • The book was better, but not a bad movie
    I would totally recommend reading the book that this movie is based on. It was a wonderful book and I read it once as a teenager and once again as an adult. The movie captures the book OK, about average for movies based on books. My mother watched it with me and said it was weird but good enough to watch. ...more info
  • Brilliant, scary that this could still happen
    I remember watching this a few years ago and thinking of it some times scares me. It's like 1984 meets The Story of O. To me this shows that yes women can be strong in such situations. Duval and Henderson give masterful performances which truly inhance the quality of this wonderful film....more info
  • Disturbing!
    I read this book a couple of years ago and did not realizethere was a movie until I happened to notice it in the video store.

    The movie is nothing like the book. The book was much better. The movie drags way too much, and the focus of the movie is on "romance,"--not so much on the society of Gilead. However, even without the book, it is an interesting story and sobering to consider. Beautiful Faye Dunaway was an improvement over the dumpy Serena Joy portrayed in the book, and was very good at portraying the "Bondage" that existed for all women in this society--even the supposedly "privileged." Robert Duvall is amazing, as always, and in spite of his "corrupt" character,(...).

    Overall, a movie worth watching. END...more info

  • Might really come true?
    I first saw this movie many years ago. I thought it was a great story similar to 'A Brave New World" and "1984". After the Impeachment vote it looks like it may really be coming true. This movie may have been made in 1990 but it pertains well to 1998. I hope people will watch this movie again before the next election. "The Handmaid's Tale" shows how dangerous it could be to mix religon and politics in the USA....more info
  • Great Story - Fabulous Storyline
    I heard some friends talking about some other movie that reminded me of something I saw 18 years ago . . . on PBS no less. The "Handmaid's Tale" - it's rather "1984" meets "Code 46." And what better cast could you ask for - Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn (very young looking!) - it's totally bizarre how a failed country or maybe race attempts to turn itself around with ridiculous freedom robbing rules and procedures . . . Hats off to all Bureaucrats! Definately worth a watch....more info
  • Not enough Dunaway; needs a rewrite
    The book was great! This movie, well, it's ok, but nothing compared to the book. What is the weakest about it is that Faye Dunaway didn't have a bigger role. I went to see it only for her, and she was hardly in it. Also, it is not believable that Robert Duvall would prefer Natasha Richardson to Dunaway and make a play for her. Totally unrealistic. Dunaway is much better looking and all woman. The script should have been redone. Ditch the Richardson character all together, have Serena Joy (Dunaway) go into a fertility clinic and rely on her prayers and medical treatment to have a baby. There could be some great fire and brimstone monologues from Dunaway also as she preaches to her clan while struggling with infertility. End up with Dunaway finally being able to have a baby, and then, when she becomes a mother, she realizes the fascist world they live in, then she could try to escape with the young tot a la "Not Without My Daughter." Toss in a couple of topless scenes and we've got a full-blown Dunaway hit! It would have been riveting!...more info
  • How do you survive when you do not own yourself?
    "Pollution has caused sterility in 99% of the women. A war has overturned the government, and fertile women are deprived of their reproductive rights. Owned by the wives of the ruling men, they are forced to become "handmaids". How do you survive when all women are treated as chattel, segregated as a wife or a whore... and you have been classed as the latter?"...more info
  • The Handmaid,s Tale
    What a great movie!!! I love the story,thumbs up to the writers. Makes a person think if you wonder about the future....more info
  • thought provoking reading and viewing
    I taught this particular novel and showed the movie in my AP senior lit and comp class several years ago. After I made the decision to teach the book, I read a review in The English Journal by another teacher who had taught it. She raved about it. My students said the same things hers did..."Why did you save the best until last?" I lent my video to a student who lent it to a friend. I never got it back. The book and the movie force us all to examine how we view women...how we view women in the church...how we view women in society. They force us to examine the separation of church and state. The book is not the product of a bored, sick mind, but rather the product of a contemporary feminist author whose work routinely asks us to reexamine ourselves. The video is a good representation of the book, bringing to life events portrayed. The book is better, but the video is certainly worth watching. And for the love of God, let's not let the USA become Gilead....more info
  • No cartoon mice, not even 1!
    I saw this film about 18 years ago, on a first date when we really wanted to go and see Flatliners but that was sold out, and we had to see this garbage instead. There was no second date, and I blame this film. I had blanked the memory from my mind until now. If you want to see a film about a childless future, go and see Children of Men instead, which isn't perfect, but it is gritty and portrays a rather more realistic dystopia.

    Mind you, if you want to see a really mental dystopic future society, watch "Zardoz", that has Sean Connery wearing a belly dancers costume and flying around in a big giant head! Magic.
    ...more info
  • Thought-provoking,disturbing.
    This movie grips you and doesn't let go. Very disturbing.....It is a movie about a society in the future where infertility is the norm and fertility is a prized possession which is used to provide offspring to the members of an elite group of people/government. Women who are fertile are used as "handmaids" or as vessels to provide the offspring....once their babies are born, they are taken from them and given to the elite members of society. Haunting!!...more info
  • Excellent Movie!!
    This movie is definitely prophetic. I find its plot to be very probable. As a woman, this was an eye opener. Great movie!...more info
  • Dystopy
    I ordered this DVD because the original book by Margaret Atwood is on my reading list for my written and oral exams at uni. It was very interesting to see how the book was actually turned into a movie, how certain ascpects are left out and how several aspects are described in a very detailled way. I can only recommend watching it, there are definitely some points to think about in our modern world...
    Keep in mind the country code of the DVD, I can only watch it on my Laptop, not on my German DVD Player......more info
  • Horrible Seller
    I bought the DVD before the actress died. Apparently the DVD became out of print and in demand. Suddenly, the seller didnt have the item. Sounds like a liar to me....more info
  • A Handmaid's Tale
    I read Margaret Atwood's Book before the film was made, and was amazed how well it was translated into film. Atwood is a most talented writer. If you were interested in this story, you should seek out other books and short stories of hers. A Handmaid's Tale was a truly inspired tale of a futuristic world which is not so much unlike our own, where food is bought with plastic cards and babies are produced by fertility rituals and wars are fought on television. It was written with a prescience way before its time....more info
  • Entertaining Movie, But The Book is a Better Bet
    This movie was very entertaining, but those who have read the book will note a handful of obvious changes. Those who have not read the book will probably find some of the terms alien, seeing as the movie does nothing to explain them. As, for the ending, readers of the book will be surprised. I don't know if Margaret Atwood approved of how they ended the movie in such a definite and different way from the book, but I think that the book is a much better way of hearing this unforgetable story. However, book or movie; it still has a wonderful plot and clever facets. If you haven't read the book, read it first. Its a lot better than the movie. I don't read books a lot, but I couldn't put it down. I applaude Margaret Atwood....more info
  • See this movie or read the Book before it's too late!
    Though the book is better than the movie, the movie stands well on its own. Like other reviewers, I saw the movie several years before I read the book.

    Strange, topical coincidence is that Bush's nominee for Secy of Defense if the chairman of Gilead Sciences. (The country created by the religous zealots in the book/movie is called the Republic of Gilead.)

    Is it time to get out of the US before fiction becomes fact?...more info

  • Not nearly as good as the book
    Although the film adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel "The Handmaid's Tale" features a very strong cast, it was a big disappointment to me. As someone who really enjoyed the book, I thought that a lot of Atwood's story was lost on the big screen.

    The plot revolves around a martial law society that dictates fertile young women are to be captured and forced to work as handmaids/baby mommas for the rich and childless. Kate (Natasha Richardson) is one of the women captured and is renamed Offred. She serves in the home of a military commander (Robert Duvall) and his extremely bitter wife (Faye Dunaway). Kate's mission is to get knocked up as soon as possible, but her living situation is complicated when the Commander begins to take more of a personal interest in her than she (or the Commander's wife) would like. Desperate to escape and reunite with her lost daughter, Kate befriends Nick (Aidan Quinn), one of the Commander's security guards, and they make plans to run away together.

    The biggest problem with the film is that so much of Kate's future is given away within the first ten minutes of the movie. The book is much more suspenseful, and it's also much more horrific and terrifying. Also, the ending of the film is considerably more uplifting than the end of the book, and I think that takes away from the heart of Atwood's story. Definitely read the book before you see this mediocre adaptation....more info
  • Did they read the book!
    The book was full of action and suspense yet the film lacked all of this. The film lacked the feeling of opression and inner rebellion that offred experienced throughout the novel, and turned the ending into something like a trite romance movie, the same applies to her relationship with Nick. The regime of Gilead is barely addressed, and instead it seemed to concentrate on offred's relationship with men, changing the plot until it was barely recognizable, a dead Luke and Commander? Ruin the plot why don't you! However, Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway) gave a good performance in a totally new role independent of the book, as did the commander....more info
  • Exceptional, Moving & Facinating
    This review was written by my wife: This is one of my all time favorite movies. I think that the plot was well described by other posters, but I have to say that I find this movie so interesting, thought provoking and moving. I own it and have watched it at least 10 times.

    As entertainment, it's completely captivating from start to finish. The characters are well developed and you really feel strongly for Natasha Richardson's character. I see where someone else didn't like the acting, but I find it very believable. The story has a sci-fi twist, but it actually seems like something that could really take place. As in every good sci-fi, the culture and look of this world is very well defined so that the movie is believable. It's just simply fascinating on so many levels to watch this story play out.

    I haven't read the book, and I can understand that the movie doesn't necessarily stay true to it. However it's still a fantastic movie. It's a major cautionary tale about what could happen if people full of hate, racism and religious ideas that twist the bible for their own purposes were to gain control of this country.

    I highly recommend this movie to sci-fi fans, drama fans and to those who are interested in the message of this movie.

    Please note that this movie does have scenes where sex acts are taking place that are not consentual. Although body parts are not revealed, it's explicit and clear about what's happening. ...more info
  • a masterpiece
    I HAVE SEEN THIS FILM WHEN I WAS 12 YEARS OLD. RECENTLY I HAVE PURCHASED THE BOOK AND READ IT 7 TIMES AND LOOKING FOWARD TO REREADING IT AGAIN..IT BRINGS UP A FUTURE UNTHOUGHT OF BY MANY WRITERS AND DARING.....more info
  • A really stunning work
    Religious extremism in America is the target of this tale. I think this film and the book show us what would happen if the Contract on America had been fully executed. I expect many people not to like this work because it drives home how powerless Christian women really are within the supposedly benevolent protection of their God. Dunaway makes a good canvas on which to display the anger of a woman trying to be a righteous and obedient Christian woman of Gilead and finding out it only makes her invisible and angry and powerless and filled with hate in the end. Many of the incidents and attitudes Atwood describes were copied from the Iranian revolution, and now the Taliban in Afghanistan is starting their own Republic of Gilead. This work is not as far-fetched as people think. In our past women have lost rights and gained them back many times. This is one of the more plausible sci-fi apocalypse films I have ever seen....more info
  • Beware of movie Prophesy
    I saw the movie and eventually read the book, and my heart skipped a beat. This movie hit close enough home to make it frightening. Though fiction, it seems to have a scary connection to actual foundamentalist political though of some "so called guardians of morality" groups....more info
  • The Future We Don't Want To See
    No, I haven't had a chance yet to read the novel by Canadian Authoress Margaret Atwood, though I'm now inclined to do so. I understand it's become a minor cult classic; so should the film also be.

    I first saw 'The Handmaid's Tale' a few years ago, late at night on some obscure cable channel on TV. It reminded me of films like 'Logan's Run' and 'Fahrenheit 451' with their respective cheezy music, plastic sets, cinder-block/plywood locations, and costumes pulled from the Goodwill racks. Not that I entirely mind that, however. The films of fantasy and science fiction and allegory that I appreciate most are the ones that are character driven. No matter that Forbidden Planet appears so "fakey" to us today, it's still one of the better renditions of Shakespeare's `The Tempest' extant. It's all about adjusting to the curve and developing those survival skills, don't you know?

    I like this film, though it still makes me most uncomfortable. Perhaps it's the blatant misogyny and the renewal of the patriarchal society in order to implement fascist-conservative values and perpetuate the species (!). Add also the almost constant reminders of the confinement behind barricade and barbed-wire, the incessant intimidation of sweeping spotlights, or the men-all-in-black with weapons abundant. Perhaps it's the fact that food is rationed, movement is restricted, and words and behaviors are scrutinized most precisely. Racism could have been a big thing. The Commander (Robert Duvall) made allusion to it once and then let it go. It's a very White film.

    Are the men-folk really in charge? Probably not. Personally, I'm more startled by the power and control wielded by Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway), the Commander's wife, or Aunt Lydia (Victoria Tennent), Instructor, Mentor and Washer of Brains. Even the "Marthas" in the Commander's kitchens resonate with knowledge of their superior position. That our heroine Kate (Natasha Richardson), or our tragic gender-criminal/temptress Moira (Elizabeth McGovern) demand of themselves the strength and seek the means to reject to all this both astounds and encourages me. The Men (both Aidan Quinn and Duvall) are decidedly secondary figures: After all, except for that little matter of reproduction, "Who needs a Man?"

    The Handmaid's Tale is comprised of a top-flight cast who has submitted to Director Schlondorff's carefully blended combination of quasi-futuristic angst and the familiar. I believe they saw the inherent worth in putting this effort to the screen, probably knowing it would not really register with the masses.

    I think I can live with Three Stars.

    Russell de Ville
    14 September 2006


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  • Not as good as the book
    There are a fair few differences between the book and the film. And if you're studying the book for A level english lit, the film will cause confusion! Read the book, it's much better....more info
  • disappointing in comparison to the novel
    Having read the book, the film was a bit of a let down for me. It loses the seriousness of the themes it conveys by over-glamourizing the situation. In my opinion, it used more artistic licence than should be allowed, and even had major changes which undermined the whole concept of Offred NOT being a heroine, and lost the ambiguity of the ending. Whilst interesting for someone not already acquainted with The Handmaid's Tale, if you already know Margaret Atwood's novel you will be disappointed. I would reccommend reading the text to anyone who has watched the film and wants a deeper representation....more info