The Handmaid’s Tale – Aug 2017
“Blessed be the soundtrack”
Here’s the soundtrack in all its dark glory, have a listen while you read, you know, if you like.
It’s rare, very rare in fact that a TV series hits every element for me but The Handmaid’s Tale did just that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Possibly because that creepy shit is a little bit ‘too’ real…
The way it’s shot, the use of colour, the acting, all faultless! What changed the game was the use of music. There is no music in the ‘Republic of ‘Gilead’, no books, no art, no freedom.
I didn’t notice the soundtrack until the end of Ep2, where we start to think Offred has claimed back a modicum of power. Simple Minds –‘Don’t you (Forget about me)’ kicks in as we see the back of Offred’s red cloak walking out of the house in slow motion to meet Ofglen.I’m chanting in my head “Offred, Offred!” It lifts us up, makes us believe something has changed, and then Ofglen turns to face her. “Where’s Ofglen?” the music pauses “I’m Ofglen”…………”Fuck”. Simple Minds kicks in again and the power is lost.
In Ep3 the first track we are treated to is Peaches –‘Fuck the pain’ away, a bold choice for a TV series but here it fits perfectly as we see June and Moira running with headphones in depicting their life ‘before’. The symbolism here is both uncomfortable and powerful. The eerie use of Blondie’s –‘Heart of Glass’ in the riot seen is an assault on the senses as we see the beginnings of their rights being stripped away…slowly. “Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”
I’ve been listening to the Cigarettes after Sex album for a while. ‘Nothings going to hurt you Baby’ appeared in the final scene in Ep7 where Luke realises June is alive and the track is now forever changed. Such is the power of music in a well-executed scene.
My final standout is the use of Nina Simone’s – ‘Feeling Good’ in Ep10. The Handmaids take a dangerous stand and we see them walking down the street in line with Offred leading the pack.
“They should never have given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.” BOOM!
I’m sure Atwood’s involvement in the series has contributed significantly to the brilliance and the subtlety. Appearing as an ‘Aunt’ in EP1 along with the scene where the first scrabble tiles turned over are ‘M’ and ‘A’ only add to my adoration of this woman.
Congratulations on doing the impossible.
‘Under His Eye’.