Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hulu Adapting Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Anna and Elena Balbusso for the Folio Society
If you're familiar with Margaret Atwood, you're also familiar with her use of fairy tales in her work. The Handmaid's Tale, while more obviously referencing Red Riding Hood in key phrases in the book, the often used motif of the isolated woman, or Rapunzel syndrome, is also part of the it too. There are other subtle fairy tale references throughout, such as to Cinderella, The Red Shoes and The Girl Without Hands, a constant, underlying presence in Atwood's work. There are nursery rhyme references too, (eg. The Spider and the Fly), all of which blend together, seemingly naturally, in Atwood's hands.

Now that Hulu is working on a 10 episode series, we're curious to see if any of those references and allusions are included. With Atwood as consulting producer and reportedly very happy with how the script and production are developing, we are optimistic there will be:
"I am thrilled that MGM and Hulu are developing The Handmaid's Tale as a series, and extra thrilled that the very talented Elisabeth Moss will be playing the central character.  The Handmaid's Tale is more relevant now than when it was written, and I am sure the series will be watched with great interest.  I have read the first two scripts and they are excellent; I can hardly wait to see the finished episodes,” said Atwood. (source)
Here's Hulu's press description of the production from a few months ago:
Adapted from Margaret Atwood’s influential and acclaimed novel, THE HANDMAID’S TALE is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted religious fundamentalism that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred navigates between Commanders, their cruel Wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead — all with one goal: to survive and find the daughter that was taken from her.
Golden Globe winner, Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) will play the lead and title role of Offred, the 'handmaid', and in August, Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) was confirmed to play the role of Commander Fred Waterford.
Fiennes will play Commander Fred Waterford, a founding father of the totalitarian society of Gilead. A powerful, high-ranking official, Commander Waterford rules the household where Offred (Moss) is a handmaid. This marks a returned to scripted television following his role in the second season of “American Horror Story” in 2013. 
... Reed Morano will direct and executive produce the first three episodes. The cast also includes “Orange Is the New Black” alumna Samira Wiley; “The Leftovers” star Ann Dowd; “The Mindy Project’s” Max Minghella and “Hemlock Grove’s” Madeline Brewer. 
The series is scheduled to begin production in Toronto this fall for a 10-episode order, slated to premiere in 2017. (source)
While on the subject of Atwood, we wanted to highlight this book which sounds intriguing as it combines all creative aspects of Atwood's expressions - from art to writing. We haven't yet had the chance to read it, and it has mixed reviews, are curious all the same. The title is Margaret Atwood's Fairy Tale Sexual Politics by Sharon Rose Wilson.

Here's the description:
An intriguing investigation of fairy-tale images in Margaret Atwood's haunting fiction, poetry, and artwork 
Sharon Rose Wilson's analysis of Margaret Atwood's sexual politics through a study of fairy-tale patterns offers a new reading of Atwood and a fresh appreciation of the traditional fairy tale's ability to illuminate modern literature. 
Not only is this the first study to explore systematically Atwood's fiction and poetry through fairy-tale images, but also it occasions the first time Atwood has allowed examples of her artwork to be published in a book. 

In relating Atwood's fragile, mysterious paintings, collages, linocuts, drawings, and cartoons to her writing, this study shows how such fairy-tale images-along with myths, the Bible, history, film, art, and popular literature-reveal archetypes in her work. The engaging writing and the eerie visual art of Margaret Atwood braid together fairy-tale themes from Grimm and Andersen with the feminist concerns for which this internationally acclaimed Canadian author is well known.  
In The Handmaid's Tale, for example, she presents her version of Little Red Riding Hood facing patriarchy's wolf. In almost all her novels she explores the "Rapunzel Syndrome," in which women experience internalized isolation. In joining Atwood's literature and her artwork, Wilson challenges feminist assumptions that fairy tales limit gender roles. To the contrary, fairy-tale motifs in Atwood's works are a liberating force. Indeed, Wilson discloses how the genius of this fascinating writer perceives the fairy tale to be a means of transforming the constricting images that tradition has placed upon sexual identity. 
Sharon Rose Wilson is a professor of English and women's studies at the University of Northern Colorado.

You can get a really good preview via Google Books HERE and the book is available for purchase HERE and HERE.

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