Book challenge 5 of 24: The Handmaids Tail

The Book vs. The Silver Screen

I have never really had a problem watching a film based on the book and then reading the book or vice versa. I know book lovers out there will claim that the book is always better, examples being Harry Potter, Girl on a Train, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hunger Games, and the list goes on and on. To be honest, there have always been things that I preferred about the books, but understand that not every little detail can be incorporated into a 180-minute film. Yes, I would have loved to see Hermione’s organization of S.P.E.W make it to the big screen because it was wonderful and made me love her even more, but I understand why it was not incorporated. At this point, I am sure you are wondering, why am I going on and on about this, well for the first time ever I have a preference when it comes to book vs. film adaptation and let me tell it sure wasn’t the book.

As many know, I have a reading disability. When you struggle with reading, certain writing styles just will not suit you. For example, when there is a back and forth between tenses in within the same paragraph or even chapter. In other cases, when the book is written in the first person and then it jumps to third due to an internal dialogue that the character might be having with his or her self. These are not formal writing styles you learn in school and more often than not you are told not to do them, but when it comes to fiction one does not have to follow the rules. Because of this, someone who struggles with reading such as myself can be thrown off kilter.

While reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I would be reading a chapter and as I finished I thought to myself, “ I have no idea what happened.” I would then re-read the chapter trying to determine whether if what I was reading was past, present or future. Granted, when Offred would speak about the older days such as when she was in college, her daughter or her husband that I understood. The difficulty came when she would be talking to the Commander and then suddenly the storyline would change and she would be at the Women’s Center with Aunt Lydia. The transition between reality and memory was very hazy. After finishing the book I could see why the author made this stylized choice, but in short, I didn’t enjoy it. Although I didn’t like this back and forth of tenses while reading, this did translate to screen very well making it very easy for the viewer to follow along.

Another thing I struggled with was Offred while reading the book. While reading I thought that she seemed so weak. There was never a moment where I thought her brave and courage only modest and fragile. With being forced into is society yes you might live in fear, but you have to be strong to get up in the morning, have the courage to fight back when needed and Offred just didn’t have that.

As for the screen version, at first I thought it was going to be the same small girl, but Elisabeth Moss character soon developed into a strong woman to be reckoned with. She was willing to take risks in order to not only survive but help the ones she loved. I think this really hit me when Offred and Moira tried to escape Women’s Center. It happened very differently in the book, Offred didn’t even attempt in the book. Which, I found surprising that Moira didn’t have Offred come along or even tell her about her plan. If you love someone you don’t leave them behind. After the escape in the film, Offred suffered consequences, but that did not defeat her and she didn’t break and say where Moira went. This is bold, as it would have been a lot easier for her to give up her friend, but as I mentioned you don’t give up the ones you love.

I could continue on about how Elisabeth Moss partial of Offred trumped that of the book, the additional storylines of Ofglen and Luke were great additions and how the ending of the book was just rubbish in my option, but I will spear you. In the end, the story is an interesting one and I am grateful that the on-screen version is continuing the tale.

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