Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Handmaid's Tale

Natasha Richardson, 1963-2009

Volcker Schlondorff, 1990 (7.6*)
This dystopian SciFi tale is based on the Margaret Atwood novel, and was probably Natasha Richardson's best film. The story is not that pleasant, but the cast is superb: Natasha co-stars with Oscar® winners Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway, with Aiden Quinn as the romantic interest. The story is a about a post-apocalyptic society that is now controlled by Christian fundamentalists. All individuality and freedom are gone, and the apocalypse left most women sterile. The few remaining fertile women are captured by the government and are used as "handmaid's" for the politically powerful, which is their name for birth mothers (or sex slaves). Sex is only for pro-creation as all pleasure is now basically outlawed by the fundamentalists, except of course, for the politically powerful. Natasha becomes the handmaid for the powerful and self-righteous Robert Duvall and his unhappy wife Faye Dunaway. Meanwhile, she establishes a friendship and romance with their driver Aiden Quinn.

This is not a pleasant film, but it is a good science fiction movie, often overlooked since it doesn't have the special effects and battles we usually associate with science fiction. (Children of Men is a similar recent film) It simply tells a frightening story of a possible future where all freedom and pleasure have been removed, and all actions are controlled by one religious group, who base all their actions on "God's word" (basically the old testament here), or at least their interpretation of what they want that to be.

See Natasha's complete filmography here


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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