Kirsten Dunst to Make Directorial Debut with Adaptation of The Bell Jar
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
The “Fargo” Actress Has Enlisted Dakota Fanning as Esther Greenwood
Of contemporary literary greats who’ve had their works (or lives) transposed for the big screen, Sylvia Plath has been comparatively unexplored. Aside from a 1979 adaptation of her most famous novel and the 2003 biopic Sylvia, The Bell Jar author has not been, nor have her works been, the subject of a movie. This is set to change with news, according to The Huffington Post, that Kirsten Dunst will head an adaptation of The Bell Jar as her feature-film directorial debut. Esther Greenwood, the book’s protagonist, will reportedly be played by Dakota Fanning. Greenwood is a young Bostonian who lands an NYC internship at a women’s magazine before moving back home and falling into a deep depression.
Tragic similarities between the author’s life and that of Esther Greenwood have long been drawn by critic and fan alike. In this way, it will certainly be difficult for the movie to replicate that experience of reading The Bell Jar: simultaneously suppressing, and taking heed of, the whispers of autobiographical veracity while following Esther. Perhaps it will help to know that Dunst already has experience with unique transposition of grief, depression, and melancholy to the silver screen: she starred in Lars von Trier’s strange and generally well-received film Melancholia.
I hope for the best, but maybe Plath has been avoided in adaptation for good reason. After all, if the movie was to get it wrong, she did once warn: “Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air.”