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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)
Reviews
Popularity
641 ( 151)

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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:

See it...while it's still allowed 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

David Dukes: As a doctor. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Staircase (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

The Most Beautful Girl In The World
Written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Published by Polygram International Publishing, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Very disturbing and depressing
7 September 2009 | by preppy-3See all my reviews

This is a nightmare vision of the future. It seems 1 out of every 100 women is fertile (for some reason). The ones who aren't perform slave labor. The ones that are are "sold" off to rich families where they have sex with the husband to produce a baby. Kate (the late and missed Natasha Richardson) is one such servant to Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway) and her husband the Commander (Robert Duvall). Kate wants out--but it seems there's no way.

The synopsis only scratches the surface of a VERY dark and disturbing movie. It slowly shows how women are treated and used and it just gets more horrifying as it unfolds. The parallels to Hitler's Nazi Germany are fairly obvious but here we have barren women instead of Jews and gays. The good acting by everybody makes this hard to shake off. Aidan Quinn (as Nick) and Duvall are OK; Victoria Tennant is chilling as a leader of the camps; Elizabeth McGovern is just great as a fellow prisoner who befriends Kate; Dunaway is also very good in her role. Best of all is Richardson. This couldn't have been an easy role but she pulls it off beautifully. She died at far too young an age. This is basically an unknown movie and it's easy to see why--it's far too dark and disturbing for a general audience. However the ending is (sort of) uplifting (and changed from the book). Grim, dark and depressing. View it at your own risk. The ceremony sequences are almost impossible to watch and shocked the hell out of me the first time I saw this.


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