Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Volker Schlöndorff's Adaptation of 'The Handmaid's Tale' (1990)

Volker Schlöndorff's 1990 adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) was filmed at Duke University (pictured above) and elsewhere around Durham (one scene looks like the rail line behind Brightleaf Mall, a cluster of converted tobacco warehouses), Raleigh and the mountains of North Carolina. It's colorful, harrowing in parts and yet also salted occasionally with wry, dark humor. 
Volker Schlöndorff focuses consistently on such themes as explored in The Handmaid's Tale. His Der junge Törless / Young Törless (1966) is concerned with how social psychology works as a psychic battleground between mass contagion and individual choice. His other movies, all exacting, include Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975),  Der Fangschuß / Coup de grâce (1976),  Die Blechtrommel / The Tin Drum (1979), Un amour de Swann / Swann in Love (1984) and Diplomatie / Diplomacy (2014). 
Schlöndorff takes a few liberties with The Handmaid's Tale (1990), but the gist remains. Fascism or plain old authoritarianism, patriarchy melded with pseudo-religious ideology, cults of macho personality -- gang's all here. In 2017, one can see variants of the same in Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, Boko Haram, Orthodox Conservative Christianity and Judaism, Putin, Duterte, Trump, Erdoğan, and so on -- enemies all to cosmopolitan egalitarianism, equality and diversity, and thereby enemies all to my own sensibilities. 

Today's Rune: Fertility. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I did see that movie and liked it. The book was so powerful though that it's hard to imagine it being filmed well.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I haven't seen any of the movies/television series yet, but am continually amazed at how disturbingly prescient the book is becoming.