Maria IB English 05/31/12 How do the scenes, of both the book and movie, of The Handmaid? s Tale made changes for their own benefit? The Handmaid? s Tale book by the Canadian Margaret Atwood is a dystopian novel, science fiction first published in 1985. It won so many prizes such as the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Nebula Award, among others, that this novel was adapted to the big screen. The movie adaptation, named the same as the book, was directed by Volker Schlondorff and made in 1990. As every book with its corresponding movie adaptation they have differences and similarities, in the Handmaid? Tale we can observe those in the arrangement of the scenes and changes in the scenes itself. We will now analyze those changes. There are three main changes in the scenes: the one in which the commander is killed, the one in which the names of the characters are provided and lastly the scene of sex. To begin with we will start with what seems to be the most crucial difference in the last scene. As we know in the book the commander does not die, whereas in the movie the commander is killed by Offred.
In one hand the commander in the book, at the end, when Offred is taken away he remains almost incriminating himself; and in the movie Offred goes to the commander for some help and then she kills him. The fact that in the movie we see that the commander want to kill himself and in the book Offred kills him is very unwise since we see throughout the book and play that Offred is not even capable of harming herself, so even less she is capable of letting someone else harm itself, in this case the commander.
And not only for that reason I believe is unwise but furthermore because by having Offred killing the commander the screen players took away her innocence. Especially because in the book Offred was already accepting the Gilead society and therefore not getting in any issue, so when she is taken away we can see that she re gains her hope. Whereas in the movie by killing the commander it totally loses innocence in the character and it shows desperation and anger within her, instead of what should be a tranquil woman accepting her role as portrayed in the novel.
Secondly we can see that in scenes throughout the movie new names are introduced, names that are never mentioned in the book. For instance in the book we never really know Offred? s name while in the movie her real name is revealed, which is Kate. What is more the daughter of Offred is also given a name, Jill. This is a critical matter since the characters that are given names are principal characters and by giving those characters names it takes away the ambiguity that the book is trying so hardly to convey.
It takes away the uncertainty since by providing names one in providing identities, and the Gilead Society is the contrary of identities and individualism. As a matter of fact individualism is suppressed in this society and names are in a way censored. The handmaid? s themselves do not even know the names of the other handmaids because they are forbidden to talk among themselves and their real names are never used, but new names that the Gilead Society awards them.
The point that the book is trying to make by not giving them names is to suppress the freedom of women, and when in the scenes of the movie the names are reveled this displays hope in themselves and who they really are. So the giving of names in the movie defies the point that the book is trying to make. Lastly the scenes that contain diversity among the book and the movie is the one in which Offred is forced to have sex with the commander for the first time.
She is forced because that is her duty as a Handmaid; but the commanders as we all know has a wife, which has to be present during the sex scene, and furthermore grabbing Offred? s hands. This chapter in the book is presented in a calm way, Offred never moans and after the commander is done she stands up, goes to her room quietly and puts some butter in her skin to make it softer. On the other hand in the movie Offred moaned and lamented during the entire ritual and when the ritual was done she went off crazy, threw a milk glass to a wall and went desperate and cried.
I believe that the point that the book wants to portray by not having her whine is that they want to illustrate Offred as a mature woman that is starting to accept the Gilead, maybe not accept but just tolerant to the rules. However what the movie tries to convey, that is the complete opposite form the book, are really strong emotions, by the moaning we feel her, it feels much more realistic and her reaction to it provokes a much stronger shock to the audience.
While in the book they want to show a lost and defeated by the rules woman in the movie they want to display a desperate woman that just lost her freedom and dignity. The movie and book of The Handmaid? s Tale contain diverse scenes that expose poles apart of meanings. As mentioned before the book has more ambiguity and shows Offred as a woman who gave up fighting while on the other hand in the movie some individualism is shown, the naive innocence of Offred is taken away and she is a strong fighter.
The scenes alter significantly the meaning of both the movie and play, but regardless to that they are both excellent masterpieces. The way the movie was altered was perfect for a movie, because it wants to entertain and I believe that the reason they gave names to some characters was to avoid confusing the audience. And the point of the ambiguity of the book was to create an atmosphere of fear and mystery, which Margaret successfully created. Finally we can conclude that the changes were made for the benefit of the movie and book and turned out to be excellent works of genius.