Posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017 by Hoai-Tran Bui
The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985, but in a polarizing political climate, the new trailer for its upcoming Hulu adaptation makes the dystopian story feel more relevant than ever.
See the chilling trailer below.
The Handmaid’s Tale stars Mad Men‘s Elizabeth Moss as Offred, a woman living in a totalitarian regime that has stripped away the rights of women and turns them into breeders and servants for elite leaders and their barren wives. But Offred remembers a time before the regime, and how she and everyone else were helpless — or perhaps unwilling — to stop the tidal wave of persecution and oppression that came after fear drove them to give up their basic human rights.
“When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution we didn’t wake up either. Now I’m awake,” Offred narrates in the trailer for the eerily prescient story.
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Written by Margaret Atwood and hailed as a feminist work of literature, the story tackles gender issues and compliance in a world not unlike our own. In fact, the story starts off in a world much like our own, where women have jobs, lives, agency. But the speed with which that world is upended and turned into the totalitarian government of Gilead is a testament to how powerful fear and paranoia can be when taken advantage of by powerful leaders.
Atwood wrote a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times commenting on the parallels that seemingly everyone, including offended YouTube commenters, were making to the current political climate and the Trump administration. Here’s a sample:
“Back in 1984, the main premise seemed — even to me — fairly outrageous. Would I be able to persuade readers that the United States had suffered a coup that had transformed an erstwhile liberal democracy into a literal-minded theocratic dictatorship? In the book, the Constitution and Congress are no longer: The Republic of Gilead is built on a foundation of the 17th-century Puritan roots that have always lain beneath the modern-day America we thought we knew.”
The basis for The Handmaid’s Tale wasn’t far off then or now – just look to America’s history and modern-day movements. In 1985, it was the anti-porn campaign and the movement against the surge in sexual assaults (both of which became a cornerstone of the totalitarian government that Atwood created). Today, it may be state bills limiting women’s healthcare. Atwood’s comparisons to the division between East and West Germany — and the influence it played on her story — were intriguing as well, about how the relatively normal lives of residents in Berlin were thrown into turmoil after the wall was erected overnight.
I’ve only read the book recently, but knowing nothing about it before going in, I was stunned to see a book depict such an oppressive dystopia in the not-near future. Used as I was to far-off predictions of relatively unbelievable dystopias, The Handmaid’s Tale felt like its political message and warnings were only strengthened since the years it was first published.
The TV adaptation for The Handmaid’s Tale seems relatively true to the book’s core, both in its eerie predictability as well as its political undertones. The only potentially troublesome change I see is the youthful depiction of Offred’s master and his wife (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski), who were both much wizened in the book and were an interesting statement on the more conservative values of older generations. But it’s a TV series, so I know we have to keep everyone young and sexy.
The cast for The Handmaid’s Tale is rounded out by Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel. The series is created by Bruce Miller and is set to premiere on Hulu on April 26, 2017.Cool Posts From Around the Web: