Remembering the original, Harold Pinter screen adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale

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Wow this is cool! I had no idea this existed!

I remember seeing the 1990 big budget movie version and I thought it was interesting, I didn’t realize it was so pooly received at the time …

My mom* is an excellent writer, though, there’s no denying that.

* not really my mother

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I am pretty sure the adaptation the article refers to is the version you remember seeing.

Oh my bad. I wouldn’t exactly call this movie “forgotten”? I guess that threw me off.


you charged my memory up cory but there are some missing parallels in my references
don’t think …I’ll never remember what’s his name movie

does this either but who knows

A lot of science fiction and fantasy movies made before the dominance of CGI are like this in that their settings are obviously real places with only a small bit of dressing to make them look futuristic/fantastical. I’m reminded of the 1987 miniseries Amerika, set 10 years after the Soviets successfully invaded the US, and was set in the “real American” region surrounding Omaha, NE. There were a few scenes actually filmed in Nebraska, but a lot of the scenes used Hamilton, ON (especially its arena) as a stand in.

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Woah. Had no idea Pinter wrote the screenplay.

That sense of “it could be here” added to the impact of the 1990 version, IMO.


Just finished reading the book. Had no idea it existed or had been a film adaptation before. I need to track this down.

Scared the ever loving f**k out of me because it feels like it’s unfolding now.


That talents like Pinter, Duvall and Dunaway couldn’t save this film speaks more to the limitations of trying to tell this complex story in 2 hours. The serialised TV format works much better.


I feel old. I remember when this came out I was probably a freshman in HS. It looked kind of interesting but seemed billed as some sort of feminism piece and I wasn’t sure what it was about. If only it had been billed as sci-fi dystopian whatever (maybe not precisely sci-fi) I would have watched it in a heart beat (bless my young adolescent heart). Just finished the book, wish I had read it back then. I was always intrigued by the movie just nothing ever nudged me hard enough to watch it.


Had a high school English teacher who was so taken with this film that he shared it with his Canadian Studies grade 12 class in 1991. First and last time he showed it, but as a small town kid it hit me hard. I haven’t rewatched it since then, but some scenes are still vivid. I had no idea til now that it was made in 1990, I had assumed earlier. Also, apparently had no idea it was bad.
Of course there was parental pearl clutching after a breathless student reported in on the pornography they were forced to watch in class.

I’m having a some problems with the 2017 version. Specifically, the conversion from modern liberal democracy to complete, totalitarian theocracy seemed way too abrupt. I laughed at the scene where all women suddenly found out they’d all lost their jobs and bank accounts-- and how casually the characters took this news (“I just lost all my civil rights and property. Oh, well…”).

And, the sound design is getting a little repetitious: every time it shows a black-uniformed militia officer there is, without fail, the Brrrrssshh insert random police radio chatter Brrrssshh. We get it. It’s a police state.

Also in the 2017 version, they made the choice to drop the white racism. It’s highly unlikely a strident religious police state is going to go as multicultural as is depicted. Yet they did retain the antisemitism; it’s never brought up, but in the background of one scene there’s a hanged man marked a star of David. I understand why they probably made these choices, but it seems a little schizophrenic.

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