Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Last Wednesday, we started to study about The Giver in depth. We were given a worksheet with an oval drawn in the middle for us to do a mindmap. Miss Li then showed us a few clips from a movie called "The Handmaid's Tale" which was adapted from a Margaret Atwood novel of the same name.

Miss Li imformed us prior to watching the movie that it was a dystopian movie and was set in a utopian community called the Republic of Gilead. Miss Li explained that this community was founded in the post-pollution world where mankind had been badly affected to the extent that only one in hundreds of woman were fertile and able to bear children.

The women who were fertile were forced to become Handmaids to concieve children for the elite couple in the community.

When watching the movie, I was immensely disturbed by the practices and values cultivated in the community. Firstly, they used the Bible and twisted its meaning to justify their practices. The Handmaids, which are the fertile women, used as a vessel to produce children, had to sing Christian hymms which lyrics had been changed to brainwash the women.

Also, there was a scene when a handmaid had done something wrong and was punished by a multiple of brutal slashes on her legs. The punishments were extremely severe for minor transgressions. Also, the people running the community made themselves seem righteous by using God's name. The ladies running the handmaids' camp make the role to be one of "serving God and your country".

I was also very disturbed by the scene where they showed many nuns being hung in public for everyone to see because they refuse to engage in sexual activities and bear children. The movie showed some nuns being shoved into a truck while they were struggling and screaming that they would not go against their belief.

My heart broke during the scene where Kate, the protagonist, tries to concieve for Serena Joy and her husband Fred. When I heard her agonizing screams and tears, I was left speechless and horrified!

Also, when one of the handmaids was forced to share about her experience of being raped, the other women were forced to blame her for the traumatic experience and call her many derogatory names such as "whore" and "cheap". I was completely outraged! It was not her fault that she was a victim of rape at all!

Overall, just by watching that few clips of "The Handmaid's Tale" has left a extremely deep impression on me. My first reactions to the movie were shock, horror, disgust and being utterly disturbed. I was really haunted by the movie. While watching the movie, I was filled with sympathy and pain for the women being forced to be Handmaids, especially the protagonist Kate whose husband had died and child was wondering in the snowy landscape by herself.

I am so thankful that I am living in this modern day, in such a liberal society where I have the freedom of speech and choice! I am so relieved that I am living in such a society where gender equality and women's rights are practised!

Throughout the watching of the movie clips I was able to find many similarities between the movie and The Giver. In the movie, the woman are taged and given identification numbers just like how the people in Jonas' community also have numbers that indicate what number baby they were in their year.

Also, just like Jonas' community, Gilead is a very oppressed society that is very rigid and regimental. In Jonas' community, there are many rules that govern every aspect of life as well as many rituals such as the "Naming" and "Ceremony of Twelve". In Gilead, the handmaids have to sing hymms before bed and have to follow many rituals.

In Gilead, classes and roles in the society can be seen by the clothes and colour they wear. For example, the Handmaids were red while the commander's wives wear blue. Hence, the people are demarcated by the clothes they wear. Similarly, in Jonas' community, people have badges to identify their various assignments. Also, the people are labelled and known more for their roles in the community than as an individual. Also, the children in Jonas' community wear different clothes and have various belongings to distinct their ages. Lily, like all Sevens, wears a front-buttoned jacket. Fours, Fives and Sixes all wore jackets that were fastened down the back. Eights got jackets with pockets and smaller buttons. Nines got their bicycles and Tens get a new haircut.

The handmaids in the movie remind me of the assignment of Birthmothers in Jonas' community. Handmaids are the fertile women, who are used as vessels to bear children. The Birthmothers in Jonas' community do the same, to give birth to children so that they can be applied for by family units. Similarly, after the Handmaids give birth to children, they are taken away and raised by commanders' families just like how Birthmothers in Jonas' community donot ever see the Newchildren.

The way the girl was punished brutally with slashes on her feet in the movie reminds me of how unforgiving and uncompromising Jonas' society is. Similarly, when the pilot-in-training in the first chapter had read his navigational instructions wrongly and flew over the community, he was released for that mistake.

Lastly, there is also a effort at achieving uniformity in both the movie and Jonas' community. In the movie, certain races that different are irradicated. They are separated and sent off in trucks. (It reminds me of the holocaust when Jews are also brought away in trucks to concentration camps). The people left in Gilead are the whites. Similarly, in Jonas' community, everything is uniform. Everyone gets the same possesions, get the same haircut and have the same dark coloured eyes and many more.

Though I was greatly traumatised by watching the movie, having many oppressive images stuck in my mind after that, I feel that I have actually gained something from it. I must admit that it is quite meaningful. The movie shows the themes and issues raised in The Giver in a more blown up and extreme proportion.

My realization of the seriousness and graveness of the immorality in the Republic of Gilead must have been what Jonas felt of his community after he saw the release of the twin. The shock, horror and disgust I experienced must have been what Jonas had gone through when he realised how his community was not perfect at all and how horribly wrong it is.

I absolutely and strongly agree with what Miss Li had said about how when trying to create a utopia, elements of a dystopia come in. When trying to achieve perfection, many ugly, immoral things are done underneath to ensure that happens.

2 comments Louisa :) A world not ours @ 2:45 AM

A colourless world