This film, starring the late Natasha Richardson, is a timely reminder of the evils of absolute power, even within institutions which set themselves up as bulwarks against these evils. It is a story of a future where human fertility has diminished hugely, and this has led to the creation of a class of fertile handmaids, inferior to the wealthier class which enslaves them. The story focuses on a young woman, played by Natasha Richardson, who is fertile, and who therefore becomes a womb-slave for a wealthy infertile couple. This couple use the woman to conceive and carry their baby, but in the most oppressive and restrictive of circumstances. The young woman finally makes a bid for freedom.
The story took common social institutions, namely religion and patriarchy and developed what would happen if these grabbed absolute power, in a very dystopian vision of future western society. It is chilling to look at what these have done in the past eight years, with the escalation of tensions between the western world and the arab world. However, while this story focuses on what would happen to the status of women in such a scenario, with the appalling consequences for standards limiting torture and degradation, the lessons can still be learned. It's not too late.