‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Shares First Look of Gilead

Danielle Ryan

After releasing some teaser photos in December, Hulu has finally released the first official trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale. Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of the handmaid Offred. Offred was once a married mother with a good job. Following World War III and part of the United States forming the ultra-conservative Republic of Gilead, she is reduced to being a vessel for childbirth.

The teaser opens with Offred telling viewers that she had another name that is now forbidden. “Offred” isn’t her name, so much as her title. She is a handmaid in the home of a Commander named Fred, so her new designation is simple “Of Fred”. Women in Gilead are separated into several categories. Wives wear blue and are the female heads of household. Most of the Wives cannot bear children due to the environmental fallout of WWIII, so they require Handmaids to carry children for them. Science has been rejected in this dystopian theocracy, so Handmaids must live with the families they serve and share a marriage bed.

The teaser then shows some flashbacks to before the rise of Gilead, of Offred protesting among other women. She plays with her son in the ocean, and later is separated from him by military officers. In the novel, Offred has a daughter instead of a son, but because her daughter is only mentioned in flashbacks, it’s not a major plot change.

Like so many teasers, there are lots of quick flashes of images strung together. Offred’s best friend from before the war, Moira (Orange is the New Black‘s Samira Wiley), is depicted in one of the Handmaid classrooms. We also see Ofglen (Sin City‘s Alexis Bledel) being dragged down a hallway with a mask over her mouth. There’s a shot of an empty nursery (easy depiction of infertility!) followed by a wall of blood being hosed down.

The wall is especially important because it is a major feature in the novel. Criminals (or anyone the state disagrees with) are strung up from the wall after their executions. The wall is one of the few places Offred and Ofglen stop every day on the way home from getting the groceries for the day. Seeing the drab gray and the shocking red running down it is a great visual for such an important piece of the novel. The bright red handmaid’s costumes are also great to finally see, and they’ve designed the “wings” of their hats in a way that’s not quite as silly as previous designs.

The final line “My name is Offred, and I intend to survive” is a great summary of the character and her role in the novel.

The Handmaid’s Tale debuts April 26 on Hulu.

Danielle Ryan
A cinephile before she could walk, Danielle comes to Fandom by way of CNN, CHUD.com, and Paste Magazine. She loves controversial cinema (especially horror) and good cinematography; her dislikes include romantic comedies and people's knees.
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