When I’m a famous movie director…
(Which’ll be about the same time I get my novels published, win an Eisner Award, and learn to sing…)
Two huges changes I’d put into place for a remake of the Handmaid’s Tale: modern day setting + animation.
One of the issues with making adaptations of any work is how to get the story to fit in not just a different medium, but also a different context. I think Atwood’s novel is a good book, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been almost a quarter of a century since the book was written and it feels like a little update would go a long way. Just think of what’s happened to us in the past not-quite-25 years: Oklahoma City, Columbine, 9/11, Katrina, Iraq, economic crises, an end to the Cold War, the internet, cell phones, reality television, and the entire realm of politics. There’s a different language used now than in the 80s when we’re talking about really scaring The Average American. What if Gilead had started as a grassroots movement on the internet, mobilizing millions of followers at once against their state’s legislative bodies? What if there had been more major terrorist attacks, or what if we decisively won Iraq and lead a new crusade for the rest of the Holy Land? The focus of the story could still be about the supression of women and sexuality (as well as homosexuals – I liked that idea a lot), but with modern tech I think Gilead’s forces are much, much scarier.
There are a couple reasons I wave flags for an animated Offred. Number one, you can do anything in animation. Was the ’90 movie too bright for you? Think of dark, depressive, and gorgeously detailed backdrops of urban decay, or Stepford Suburbia in washed-out sepia. Dingy and broken environments with the strongest colors being, of course, red, blue, and green. Two, animated movies feel like they age better. The ’90 move will always scream to me late ’80s/early ’90s, but animated movies around that time – Disney and Don Bluth, I’m looking at you – feel less rooted to the time they were made. Three, I really want America to let animation out of the just-for-kiddies box. It’d be an interesting juxtaposition; animation, usually reserved for kids, used to portray a terrible future where a religious regime enforces ‘normalcy’ by destroying anything that offends their morals.