A Handmaid's Tale : Summary

Length: 108 Min. Format: 35mm Colour

Premiere: 10.02.1990, Berlin, IFF (FBW "especially valuable")


This is the story of the handmaid Kate (Natasha Richardson) set in the near future. She lives in a faraway country, once the United States of America, which is now ruled according to the laws of the Old Testament. The few women who can still bear children are called "handmaids" and are allocated to the families of the ruling class.

Kate was herself a mother. But now she is supposed to not only fulfil her mistress's ardent wish for a child, but also satisfy the forbidden desires of her commander. However, Kate only appears on the surface to submit herself to these demands. She makes her mistress an accomplice, her master a friend, and the chauffeur her lover. Caught in the net of her secret relationships, Kate is in danger of losing her life. Each one of the three could betray her. All that remains is her hope, strength and will to survive.

Volker Schlöndorff's The Handmaid's Tale is based on the novel by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and a screenplay by the English playwright Harold Pinter.