DVD Review: The Handmaid's Tale (Season 1)
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Though tough to binge-watch in succession thanks to its grim, thought-provoking themes, Hulu's Emmy award-winning adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale is every bit the definition of quality television. Set under a horrific totalitarian regime in modern-day America, the series follows the plight of the Republic of Gilead's 'Handmaids' - fertile young women who, in a sterile new world, are captured and indoctrinated into serving as child-bearers for government officials. The story's main protagonist, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) introduces us to this world of injustice with hauntingly blunt asides that reveal the brutal, merciless nature of Margaret Atwood's dystopian vision. For modern viewers with feminist or humanist sensibilities, this show will provide much in the way of shock value and thought-provoking, anger-inducing scenes. As we follow Offred into her new 'assignment' as the concubine for Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife (Yvonne Strahovski), we are faced with a multitude of appalling images and sequences that highlight the injustice of Gilead's social system. Chief among such scenes is what is referred to as 'the ceremony' - a scene of ritualised rape in which handmaids like Offred must submit to insemination by their masters in the hope that they might conceive. Though this is a difficult subject to tackle, even through the fiction of this dystopian setting, the act itself is filmed with thinly veiled delicacy. The scene is largely silent, earmarked by harsh, reverberating thumps that, accompanied by Moss' still, sullen expression, evoke Offred's resilience throughout the trauma.
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