Grace Marks in Alias Grace is based on the award-winning novel by Margaret Atwood and inspired by true events. Alias Grace tells the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a young, poor Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan), finds herself accused and convicted of the infamous 1843 double murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin).
Margaret Atwood began writing novels nearly 50 years ago, but 2017 has been a banner year for the celebrated Canadian author. First came the Emmy-winning adaptation of her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. And now Netflix is releasing a six-part miniseries based on Atwood’s 1996 novel Alias Grace, adapted by Sarah Polley, the Oscar-nominated writer-director of Away from Her.
Director Mary Harron, who helmed all six episodes, thinks it’s the perfect time for Atwood’s stories to reemerge in the pop culture consciousness, especially given the current political climate.
Back in 1996 when she released her first film, I Shot Andy Warhol, Harron was almost afraid to call herself a feminist in interviews.
“I would have to grit my teeth, because I knew if you said you were feminist the people would think you were shrill and dogmatic and gonna lecture people,” Harron said recently during a Netflix press event with the cast. “But I thought, I’m not gonna deny feminism. I’m gonna embrace it. … I would never deny feminism, because without feminism, I would not be making films. Feminism made it possible for women to direct films.”
While The Handmaid’s Tale is about a dystopian future in which women aren’t allowed to read, write, or hold any agency of their own, and fertile women are raped monthly and forced to bear the children of their masters, Alias Grace is a very different story about a real-life Irish servant charged with double murder in 1800’s Canada.
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