Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” may have been published 32 years ago, but the stars of a new and highly disturbing TV adaptation emphasized how the novel’s terrifying message has never been more relevant than it is today. At a time when women’s reproductive freedom is being threatened and the religious right is gaining more and more political power, the bleak world of Hulu’s series registers as not all that far-removed from ours. Featuring an impressively strong cast led by Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), it posits a society that has been environmentally devastated and now is governed by a brutally strict theocracy — one that strips women of economic and personal power and forces the fertile ones into subservient roles as breeders. “It’s prescient today,” actor Joseph Fiennes (“Shakespeare in Love”) told TV critics at a press session. “There’s not a level playing ground amongst the sexes for women still,” he said. “There are huge issues. So it’s prescient, and I think and I hope it doesn’t remain prescient in many ways. I hope we move on. I hope this becomes a thing of the past.” Fiennes, who plays one of the powerful men in the tale, said he was particularly stricken by the environmental parallels. “The state of our planet, toxicity, population,” he said. “Ecology and the world is what was startling to me. That’s at the forefront of my mind and a lot of our minds today, the impact we are having.” The first three episodes of “The…more detail
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