Margaret Atwood’s dystopian Republic of Gilead in her classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale might have a maddeningly vague ending for protagonist Offred — but the story is getting a fresh new beginning onscreen.
The impending 10 episode Hulu drama starring Elizabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes has unveiled its first photos. Among them is a glimpse at an eerie looking ceremony for the Handmaids.
As a brief refresher, in this alternate future that feels all too close, an Islamic extremist terrorist attack on the United States emboldens a theocratic military dictatorship to take over, suspending the constitution on the pretext of acting for the greater good.
Under the new regime, citizens live Old-Testament-inspired lives in which women are relegated to secondary citizens, hence the protagonist being called “Offred.” Fred, better known as The Commander — the man she is assigned to reproduce with — is the only relevant signifier of her identity.
In Gilead, women are classified into categories with rigid societal roles. The Handmaids are concubines. But bizarrely, when Offred has her sexual “ceremony” with The Commander, his wife must be present.
In the photograph below, the Handmaids assemble in their uniforms as a row of men — perhaps officials like the Commander; perhaps men like the driver Offred engages in an affair with — stands before them.
As the novel contains copious flashbacks, this could be a scene depicting Offred’s first meeting with the Commander.
Then again, it could also be a simple religious ceremony. As women are not allowed to read in Gilead, it’s fitting that they have pillows in lieu of prayer books.
Here’s Joseph Fiennes looking tormented as The Commander — perhaps tormented by his ambiguously inappropriate emotions towards Offred.
And here’s Elizabeth Moss as Offred, perhaps in The Commander’s bedroom.
The Handmaid’s Tale premieres in April 2017.