Sunday, April 2, 2017

'The Handmaid's Tale' Proves More & More Relevant As Trailer Released & Air Date Approaches

The Handmaid's Tale will be premiering on Hulu this month and a lot of people are very excited for it. Or perhaps 'excited' is the wrong word. Since November 9, 2016 (and again January 20th 2017), The Handmaid's Tale has once again become a best-seller. The timing of this is perfect for the new series, though even the Atwood (who wrote the award winning book) and the Producers, aren't thrilled about the circumstances that make it so.

During the recent convention SXSW (South By South West) in Austin, Texas, dozens of 'handmaidens' walking around the city in costume made for very effective series promotion, perhaps with even more impact than was originally intended. Some called it 'effective street theater'. Some call it an eerie glimpse into an 'all-too-possible future'. (Even the 1990 film adaptation didn't have the same impact this series is already having, due to the current political and social climate in the US.) See some pics below:

The Handmaid's Tale deals with a lot of issues, the most obvious of which are the contemporary possibilities and parallels with real life current affairs and political news. But this is not a new thing and, this being a fairy tale blog, you may have been clued into the fact that it's firmly connected to fairy tales as well. The Handmaid's Tale is today's Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, albeit in a form most wouldn't recognize, though Atwood inserts some lines in her narrative to make it clear the parallel is intentional. (The red clothing probably gave you the biggest clue.)
  • In chapter 2 Offred sees herself as ‘some fairytale figure in a red cloak, descending towards a moment of carelessness that is the same as danger.'
  • In chapter 17 she imagines herself as a figure, ‘In the wood at midnight,' seeking, ‘a magic flower'. (Garden tales and legends are regularly referenced.)
  • In chapter 8 Offred comments on the barren wife she's assigned to as, ‘She's like my own reflection, in a mirror from which I am moving away.' (The fairy tale doppelganger.)
  • And the red and blue comparison between the fertile and barren women, have always reminded us of Bluebeard, which doesn't feel like too much of a stretch!
What this means,of course, is that this (essential situation) is not a new problem. We will be telling our newer variations of these fairy tales now, even as we try to find our way through to surviving these old ones.

Here's the official new trailer. Be warned, although it's not explicit, it certainly hits close to home. Previous trailers have shown the barren versus fertile women and the form of control. With the emphasis in the new trailer on the changing state of the world (pre to mid tale) we have to wonder if it was created specifically to reflect the possibilities of the western world in 2017. It's certainly effective. Take a look:

The series not only has Atwood's seal of approval as the originator (and yes, she is also Consulting Producer) but her enthusiasm and praise, something you don't often hear, whether they hold a credit or not.
In a Reddit AMA*, Atwood had high praise for the first three episodes of the TV adaptation, the only ones she’s seen so far. “Based on what I’ve seen it’s a 10. My criteria: puddle of goo on the floor [by the] end of Episode 3. Gasp. Shriek. It goes farther than I did in the book…” (FTNH Edit: YIKES!) Personally, this has me even more excited for the premiere. 
Atwood herself will have a cameo in the show, as she revealed in a piece for The New York Times. In that same piece, she also reflected on all the historical events she drew inspiration from, her mindset when writing the book, and the way Offred’s narration work as a “literature of witness.” 
“Having been born in 1939 and come to consciousness during World War II, I knew that established orders could vanish overnight,” wrote Atwood, reflecting on the novel’s inception. “Change could also be as fast as lightning. ‘It can’t happen here’ could not be depended on: Anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances.” (TheMarySue*AMA is Ask Me Anything

One of the 'redeeming factors' of this show - that is, considering the current circumstances in which watching such possibilities brought to life are not only deeply disturbing but have the danger of pushing folks to real despair - is that the show's overall emphasis isn't on losing hope but about keeping it, despite what may come.
"It's unquestionably a dark world, says executive producer Bruce Miller, "but it's not a dark show. The show is about perspective and not losing the hope of getting your life back."
The show is, as The Mary Sue reminds us "an example of how powerful art has served as not only comfort but as a manual for resistance. In a new featurette, the team and cast of the Hulu adaptation talk about how the show is ultimately one that wants to foster hope." Take a look behind the scenes to see how the cast and crew are viewing the show, and how they see this as an effort to remind us we are never without choices.
The Handmaid’s Tale premieres on Hulu on April 26, 2017.

For those feeling the need for a morale boost, here's an excellent article on how not to lose hope, and how to resist when you feel it's hopeless and you're exhausted. How, even if you're small and quiet, you can still effectively resist. Click HERE.

1 comment:

  1. This preview gave me chills. I am so looking forward to this series. It is incredibly disturbing how very prescient this book was. I first read this book in college for a class on religion in literature (Grimm's Household Tales was another text we read), and it blew my mind. I don't remember discussing the fairy tale aspect at the time though. I think it's time for a reread!