Handmaid's Tale

Overview

In this dystopian fable, a librarian wife and mother becomes the childbearing pawn of a Christian theocracy. In the near future, as war rages across the fictional North American Republic of Gilead and pollution has rendered 99 percent of the female population sterile, Kate (Natasha Richardson) sees her husband killed and her daughter kidnapped while trying to escape across the border. Kate herself is transformed into a handmaid -- a surrogate mother for one of the privileged but barren couples who run the ...
See more details below
This VHS is Not Available through BN.com

Overview

In this dystopian fable, a librarian wife and mother becomes the childbearing pawn of a Christian theocracy. In the near future, as war rages across the fictional North American Republic of Gilead and pollution has rendered 99 percent of the female population sterile, Kate (Natasha Richardson) sees her husband killed and her daughter kidnapped while trying to escape across the border. Kate herself is transformed into a handmaid -- a surrogate mother for one of the privileged but barren couples who run the country's fundamentalist regime. Although she resists being indoctrinated into the bizarre cult of the handmaids, which mixes Old Testament orthodoxy and misogynist cant with 12-step gospel and ritualized violence, Kate soon finds herself ensconced at the home of the Commander (Robert Duvall) and his frosty wife, Serena Joy (Faye Dunaway). Forced to lie between Serena Joy's legs and be penetrated impersonally each month by the Commander, Kate longs for her vanished earlier life; she soon learns that since many of the nation's powerful men are as sterile as their wives, she may have to risk the punishment for fornication -- death by hanging -- in order to sleep with another man who can provide her with the pregnancy that has become her sole raison d'être. When that other man turns out to be Nick (Aidan Quinn), the Commander's handsome, sympathetic driver, Kate grows attached to him -- and eventually pregnant with his child. Only the mysterious rebel affiliations of her fellow handmaid, Ofglen (Blanche Baker), seem to offer any chance of giving her unborn child a life of freedom -- or finding the daughter she already lost. Loosely adapted by Harold Pinter from the novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale also features Elizabeth McGovern in a small but pivotal role as Moira, a "gender traitor" who befriends Kate at the handmaids' reprogramming center.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Although it's been criticized for being sterile and unfaithful to its source material, this cautionary tale is actually a pretty smart Orwell-ian update with a feminist twist and a lot of dead-on details. Screenwriter Harold Pinter and director Volker Schlondorff fill The Handmaid's Tale with all sorts of plausible fascist imagery and plenty of moments of paranoid dread. As Kate, the titular baby machine, Natasha Richardson revisits her timorous role in Patty Hearst, expressing normal human emotions like longing and disgust only in tiny snatches, away from prying eyes. Meanwhile, Elizabeth McGovern steals every scene she's in as Moira, a rueful fellow handmaid who frankly announces that she's "a gender traitor -- I like girls" the first time she's introduced. Faye Dunaway and Victoria Tennant both play self-righteous ice queens convincingly, though only Dunaway gets to display any of the (twisted) humanity behind her facade. Meanwhile, Robert Duvall pinches bottoms and acts like any good old boy, albeit one with an army and a religious sect at his beck and call. The romantic subplot between Richardson's character and the sympathetic errand boy played by Aidan Quinn lends a cheesy romance-novel element to the proceedings and results in way too pat of an ending. But The Handmaid's Tale remains compelling because its world is so richly and convincingly rendered. Not exactly light entertainment, the film doesn't provide much visceral horror, either. Instead, it's full of mundane betrayals and everyday hypocrisies -- the kinds that help totalitarian governments rise to power.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/28/1995
  • UPC: 026359043130
  • Original Release: 1990
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Home Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Natasha Richardson Kate
Robert Duvall Commander
Faye Dunaway Serena Joy
Aidan Quinn Nick
Elizabeth McGovern Moira
Victoria Tennant Aunt Lydia
Blanche Baker Ofglen
Traci Lind Janine
David Dukes Doctor
Zoey Wilson Aunt Helena
Kathryn Doby Aunt Elizabeth
Lucile Dew McIntyre Rita
Julian Bell TV Announcer
Gary Bullock Officer on bus
Ed Grady Old man
Jim Grimshaw Eye in van
J. Michael Hunter Preacher
James Martin Jr. Steve
Tom McGovern Guard #2
Janell McLeod Martha
Bill Owen TV Announcer
Robert Pentz Guard #1
Linda Pierce Another wife
Robert D. Raiford Dick
Reiner Schöne Luke
Muse Watson Guardian
Technical Credits
Volker Schlöndorff Director
Daniel Wilson Producer
Colleen Atwood Costumes/Costume Designer
Igor Luther Cinematographer
Gregory Melton Art Director
Jan Pascale Set Decoration/Design
Harold Pinter Screenwriter
David Ray Editor
Ryuichi Sakamoto Score Composer
Thomas A. Walsh Production Designer
Tom Walsh Production Designer
Danny Wilson Producer
Wolfgang Glattes Producer
Margaret Atwood Source Author
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously