Last week, I saw the American Netflix drama The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood. I usually don’t write reviews on movies and series, but this one in particular send chills and shivers down my spine and made me wonder what if?
The episode starts in Maime, where a modern young couple along with their daughter is seen being chased by the police. They kill the husband (gunshot fires) and take away the mother and the daughter. The very next scene you see super clean streets, women in cloaks and you wonder if it is some world war II setup. Infact, the government in Gilead, is a totalitarian one, even though it is hundred years in the future !
Who is a handsmaid ?
The world’s population has drastically decreased. The fertility rates have declined. Only a few children survive. Mexico hasn’t had a life birth since 6 years ! So when this totalitarian government overthrew the modern American government, they captured all the fertile women to bear children for the high ranking commanders and their barren wives (apart from their work of shopping for the families they belonged to). They were given names like of-Warren, Of-Red. Of as in belonged to. Warren, Red, Glen- the family name for which they bore children for.
They wore red cloaks, which signified love, fertility. The barren wives wore Blue.
These women, underwent training at a place called Red Centre, where they were subjected to third degree torture, like mutilating their eyes if they didn’t obey, chopping off their hands if they were caught reading (I forgot to mention, all sorts of books were banned ), beating them ruthlessly if they tried to run. They hanged homosexuals and doctors who performed abortions, they even practised Genital Mutilation on the gender traitors- the name they had given to the homosexuals.
Who is the protagonist ?
A handmaid called Of-Red.
What I love about her is her strength of character. Her never giving up on herself attitude inspired me. She says in one of the episodes-
My name is June. And I am going to live for my daughter.
By the end of the season1 she finds out that she is pregnant, and the commander’s wife, Serena, shows Ofred a glimpse of her daughter, Hannah, after 3 years and says Your baby is safe as long as mine !
Of-Red was heartbroken. She hated the child inside her but there was hardly anything she could do !
The climax ?
Season 1 episode 10. One of her very good friends, Janine, tries committing suicide along with her child, after she was transferred to a new family (and away from her child) post her birth. The laws say that a person who endangers the life of a child is sentenced to death by stoning. The ladies refused to stone their friend and instead dropped down their stones. The head of these handmaids, Aunt Lydia, warned them about the consequences. For the first time someone revolted in Gilead ! And history bears witness, revolutions lead to freedoms !
How much will I rate it ? 100/10 !!! Yes !
And I encourage all of you to watch it. I’m a true liberal and feminist by all means, and such powerful plots stir my soul. I am eagerly waiting for the season 2 to see how these handmaids were penalized for revolting ? This series changed my entire idea, and indeed the world’s fertility is declining rapidly. Who knows there might be a similar situation in the future! And god forbid it comes to that. But, what if ?