The Best Dystopian Hair Moments From the 1990 Handmaid’s Tale Movie

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From TV to books to movies, dystopian tales are in the air right now. All week long, Vulture is exploring how dystopias have been imagined in popular culture.

Some dystopian films have totalitarian governments. Some feature villainous technology. Others have perms. Volker Schlöndorff’s 1990 film adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel (with a screenplay by Harold Pinter!) has perhaps the biggest hair in dystopian cinematic history. There are voluminous curls, brushed bangs, and even jaunty hats, all filmed in a very flattering golden lens. Honestly, when you consider how many nipples are in this movie, the whole thing sort of feels like a soft-core porno, but Natasha Richardson owns every scene she’s in, and Faye Dunaway does the best side-eye in Gilead. These ladies are great, but trust us, the best part of the movie is the ridiculous hair. Grab a teasing comb and enjoy.

This is where our ladies (Natasha Richardson’s Offred and Elizabeth McGovern’s Moira) first meet. They’re obviously bonding over their love of L’Oréal Studio and Virginia Slims. Also, Elizabeth McGovern is pulling off this topknot better than all the dudes in Greenpoint.

Please look at these scrunchies. Are they made of gym socks? Hand towels? You know what they say in Gilead, “The bigger the scrunchie, the closer to God.”

This headband looks like the bandage they use in soap operas after a character has lost their memory. Which hopefully, for the sake of this woman, is what’s happening here?

Remember those really scratchy hair ties from the ’90s that itched your wrist and tugged at your flyaways? Those have clearly survived the apocalypse and made it to Gilead to further torture women.

This is just a photo of Faye Dunaway’s Serena Joy looking regal in a straw gardening hat. I plan on making it my new phone background. You can do with it what you will.

Now here is a perfect moment because it shows you all of the hair options available to the women of Gilead. The wives get tight perms with half a pillbox hat, like some deranged Jackie O; the daughters suffer through a look inspired by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; the aunts sport a practical bob for easy flagellation; and the handmaids have to wear these low ponies like they’re fourth-graders learning how to do their own hair for the first time.

There are no white-winged bonnets in this version of The Handmaid’s Tale. Instead, the handmaids must wear these wispy pieces of red tulle, which look like the fabric girls used to put over their lamps in teen movies. But on birthing day, apparently, you get to don this other veil that comes in you’re-about-to-steal-my-baby white.

Yes, Offred is using a pencil here to keep her hair up. Desperate times call for desperate styling accessories.

If I looked as good as Faye Dunaway did I would watch old videos of myself, too. Note the very tightly coiled curls of a pre-Gilead Serena Joy. Surely a sign of her blossoming singing career.

Now this is where my belief is suspended. How does she get that well-supported twist? Do you mean to tell me there are BOBBY PINS in Gilead?!?

There is so much going on here. The finger wave, the teased crown, the JEWEL-ENCRUSTED COMB. This look is very similar to the one I wore to my junior prom, except I was going to a country club in Staten Island and Offred is in the brothel from hell. More similar than you’d think, actually.

How much Aqua Net do you think went into this look? Can’t you just feel the stickiness of her forehead? I hope the hairspray shield Uncle Jesse invented in Full House makes it into the future.

Don’t act like you’ve never come from a terrible date and pulled out every single knot in your hair while replaying the evening’s events in your mind.

You know things have taken a dark turn for our Offred by how limp her hair looks. Truly, the sad locks of a woman who just murdered a man and is being torn away from her new lover.

In conclusion, we know Offred has escaped the prison of Gilead and is happily pregnant by the returning bounce in her hair. Look at that soft curl!

Best Dystopian Hair Moments From ’90s Handmaid’s Tale Movie