Dystopia or true near future?

By J. Rost

The first season of the new Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale sets up high expectations – and fulfills them. The first screen adaption of the Margaret Atwood’s novel was released in 1990 and was not as much of a success as the original story would have made you think. So director Reed Morano and writer Bruce Miller decided to give this dystopian world a new look and a general makeover.

The story is set in a society after an atomic collapse, which is responsible for infertility of the majority of the population. The totalitarian regime of the Republic of Gilead has taken over the USA. A small remaining group of fertile woman have been enslaved as handmaids to bear children for the elite of the orthodox society. They are stripped of their human rights and treated like animals. Those who try and stand up against this perverted system or show even the slightest disobedience are severely punished, imprisoned, deported to salvage toxic waste in the colonies (which would be there certain death) or even killed to silence them.

Still, it becomes more and more obvious for the viewer that not everything is as it first seemed – Is there an underground countermovement and what do the leaders really intend to achieve, besides saving the human race, and do they truly believe in their own system?

At the centre of the action stands Offred (Elizabeth Moss) or June (which is her true but now forbidden name, her new one represents her status as a handmaid and who owns her) – who lost her husband and her daughter when she was captured to become the handmaid of commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife, Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski).

A beautifully filmed and extraordinarily acted series that beguiles not only with its overall look and dynamic but also with its story, which creates the subtle fear – especially if one takes certain parts of the current world into consideration – that this dystopian scenario might not be as unlikely to occur even in Western countries as it first appears to.

Especially by using the camera settings, Morano creates a very dense and gloomy atmosphere. Through several point-of-view shots and close ups, the viewer is able to experience Offred’s point of view and also the tiniest reaction to the at times very cruel scenes, which Moss is of course capable of doing.

That this production belongs to the top class of series has already been proven at the 69th award ceremony of the Emmys. The Handmaid’s Tale creamed off the awards in every category it was listed in. Elizabeth Moss received the Emmy for the best drama actress, Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia) for        her role as best supporting actress in a drama series. Reed Morano was awarded the Emmy for her directing and Bruce Miller for his writing for a drama series.

The Handmaid’s Tale moreover received the top Emmy, that is, for the best drama series.

One probably cannot emphasize enough that this first season is worth a watch… Or maybe not! Two of the 75th Golden Globes 2018 have recently been awarded to The Handmaid’s Tale as best drama series and to Elizabeth Moss for the best drama series actress.

So all that is left to say – go and immerse into this masterpiece, like instantly!

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