Book Vs. Film: The Handmaid’s Tale (SPOILERS!)

Posted July 3, 2018 by Amber in Bookish Things / 0 Comments


I’m probably the last on board for this, but I’ve heard nothing but amazing things an have been meaning to watch The Handmaid’s Tale for an eternity.  When it came out, everyone spoke of how timely it is and I agree.  In fact, I think that any subtle dystopian like this is far too possible.

Bear in mind as I’ve only watched the first season, but I found it incredible.  How in the world did I want this long?

The book is told from Offred’s point of view, and we see that again in the Hulu show.  Unlike the book, Offred (June) has a bit more anger and sass that shows beneath the guise of perfect piety.  It fits better somehow – that swirl of mental thoughts underlining how incredibly insane the whole thing is.  I think they wove June’s memories into Offred’s experiences perfectly.

In addition to all that – Luke is so much better in the show?  I dunno… reading the book, I got this general sense of a below average guy who is better than the pious rapists that she’s in with now… but still not that great.  He seemed more fierce, more loyal on screen.  Maybe it was just something I needed to see.

You get a sense pretty early on that this is going to be deeper and more corrupt than the book.  It would have to be, in order to make it the type of story that spans across more than one season.  Offred’s story ends pretty abruptly in book, with just the far future epilogue to explain what happened.  There’s years and years of space in the interim, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t left wanting to see what happened in between.

I like that they gave Janine a bit of screen time. It humanized her well – in the books she came off as a selfish, reformed person.  In the show, she feels a bit unstable, but she has some of the most profoundly perfect lines.

The relationships in the show are really fantastic.  Offred’s station and her relationships with the people around her are very careful and nuanced in the books, and that is not the easiest thing to be bring to the screen.  Sometimes, it’s just a glance.  The relationship between Offred and Serena Joy is perfect.  It’s everything I wanted.

Moreso – I was so, so happy to get more of Serena Joy’s story.  Her flashbacks were my favorite.  When I read The Handmaid’s Tale last summer, I found myself constantly wanting to know more about her.  Even though the parts in the show aren’t strictly canon, they were so fulfilling and I couldn’t have asked for more from that character.

You can really tell when the folks scripting and shooting and acting in a film (or television show) care about the content.  In as far as books to film go, you can tell when the people involved are intimately familiar with their source material.  It’s clear when they are passionate about it.  I get that feeling with The Handmaid’s Tale – there is anger and passion and demands for change in each camera angle.  It’s the sort of thing that makes a bad adaptation forgivable and an amazing adaptation powerful.

I will not say for a moment that it’s perfect to the book.  But The Handmaid’s Tale is vibrant and powerful and accusing and demands to be seen.


Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?

Are you currently watching the show?

How do you feel about this dark, powerful story being brought to the screen?

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