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The Handmaid’s Tale- a poster gone wrong

2009 March 28
by Farhat Rahman

Well, the movie failed to release any form of emotion from me, since the world of Gilead was supposed to convey a sense of oppression and lost social, humane values within the viewer. The book was quite vivid and upfront with the thoughts Offred failed to share with anyone but herself, basically her thoughts were her entire being. Since handmaids are not supposed to carry themselves off as sexualized objects, what with the wings forbidding them to have peripheral visions, the poster this film even thought of exhibiting as their promotional logo is quite disappointing. The poster does absolutely no justice to the message Atwood’s novel is trying to instill into the minds of readers and viewers alike. The way Natasha Richardson clutches the bed sheet to her breasts, refusing to let it slip from her hands, while her shoulder blades remain exposed looks like something that came out of a cheap magazine, where one probably flips through the pages, giving it a momentary glance, maybe even evoking some traces of sexual desire within the reader. Basically, the exposure of skin on the poster as well as the content of the film is a big disparity between Offred’s distressing accounts of her life and the hype that the producers wanted to create for their audience, maybe due to budget cuts. Even Natasha Richardson herself realized this missing element since she did want a voice-over narration in the original screenplay which failed to be incorporated into the film. The movie was supposed to be Offred’s story, a story which was supposed to be seen through her eyes. It is a shame that the viewer failed to get his/her money’s worth while sitting through 109 minutes of this film.

9 Responses
  1. The Doctor permalink
    March 29, 2009

    I agree – the poster does absolutely nothing for the story except entice certain segments of the population to the theater in exchange for maybe a flash of breasts. “See it while it’s still allowed” seems horribly melodramatic and hilarious, although I wasn’t around for the rise of the Moral Majority, so maybe that was playing on actual fears.

  2. Aline permalink
    March 29, 2009

    I agree that the poster is miss leading, but if you look at it closely it looks like they airbrushed everyone, especially Natasha Richardson. It doesn’t even look like her. I find it odd that they air brushed her, so that she doesn’t really look human to me. I wish the movie had portrayed more of the mechnical aspects of Offred, particularly in her relationship with the Commander. The movie however, did leave me feeling disturbed. After viewing the film, I cannot say that I felt apathetic in anyway towards it. Even more than the book, the movie left me with this muddled feeling. Perhaps it was because when I read the book I kept imagining different world. I know it was supposed to be close to our own, but I imagined it differently. Did the images in the movie give you a real sense of time and space in relation to what was going on in the present? Or was the book more powerful in this aspect? I felt in both that I could really sense the tension in politics during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The cold war seemed to permeate both the movie and the book, but the movie brought out it to life for me. I like your point that the Handmaid’s Tale is supposed to told by Offred and seen through her eyes. The movie does not give one that same point of view that the book does.

  3. Mista Jay permalink
    March 29, 2009

    “Did the images in the movie give you a real sense of time and space in relation to what was going on in the present?”

    I actually think the movie gave you too real a sense of time. What I mean is, that everything was very linear in the movie, besides the few flash back sequences of Offred’s daughter, and I didn’t like this. In the novel, time was much more fluid…we’d be in the present, and then we’d be in the past and then back again. It flowed easier and didn’t feel rigid, and I think this was mainly due to the fact that we were looking at Gilead through the eyes of Offred while in the movie were definitely just the audience. I suppose this was one of my main disappointments in the movie, the fact that the movie felt like: “This happened, and then this happened, and then this, and then this, okay wait FLASHBACK! okay…PRESENT! and then this happened…etc.” I liked being in Offred’s mind, or at least in her perspective.

    Now that I think about it, I think part of me liked not knowing everything about the story. I mean, the fact that it’s from Offred’s point of view in the book meant that we had to trust what she said…but she could be lying to us. Or perceived something wrong. The movie gives us too much, ties up the loose ends too tightly and doesn’t give us much to wonder about (except whether Nick returns to her) which is…boring.

    Oh, and yes, the movie poster is ridiculous! (Sorry for going a little off topic…)

  4. March 30, 2009

    Just to add to the discussion, I found an alternate cover for the movie at this site:
    While it has too much of a Red Riding Hood feel for me, I still think that it is preferable to the cover and posters that we have already seen. Something about the simplicity of just looking at a woman (not a specifically defined woman character) in a red dress/hood and a green background makes me feel better about the movie’s portrayal. I think the focus on the colors rather than the people helps it a lot. Any more thoughts on this one?

  5. Aline permalink
    March 30, 2009

    I like the alternative cover. I agree, the green background brings out the red, which is a big part of the book and movie. Also the woman is covered, which was another important aspect of the story. It’s much more fitting.

  6. prp permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I agree that I like the alternative cover better than the original one as it shows a more covered, docile handmaid. However, (and this may be a silly point), the material looks like it is velvet. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the picture. But if I am right about the material, then that doesn’t quite fit in, does it? Imagine having all the handmaids in velvet – completely against what the book portrays them as.
    I do like this picture of a handmaid though – red dress with white wings; mixture of light and darkness in the picture; closed eyes possibly depicting submissiveness, acceptance of situation, boredom even. The sealing of the mouth with pins adds a very dramatic and blatant touch to it.

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