Sylvia Plath devotees, this news should get your nose out of your poem books and have you eagerly awaiting something on the big screen. As reported by Deadline on Wednesday, a film adaptation of Plath's The Bell Jar is officially happening, and Esther Greenwood's story is being helmed by a surprising Hollywood star. According to Deadline, Fargo actress Kirsten Dunst will direct The Bell Jar, making Dunst's first feature film directorial debut the big screen adaptation of the iconic novel. Though Dunst has directed short films prior to signing on for The Bell Jar, most people know the Emmy-nominated star as being in front of the camera, making fans wonder if Dunst will be directing and starring in The Bell Jar.
Interestingly, this seems to be one film where Dunst is happy to stay behind the scenes. The protagonist in Plath's 1963 novel is Esther Greenwood, a young woman who grapples with depression and the pressures of being a woman before being treated in a mental facility. In the novel, Esther is supposed to be around 19-years-old and dealing with impending adulthood, which means that the 34-year-old Dunst doesn't quite fit the bill for the character. However, Dunst will be directing a woman who could knock the heavy role in The Bell Jar out of the park. According to reports, Dakota Fanning will play Esther in the upcoming adaptation, and given the star's natural emotional vulnerability — evident in films like The Runaways and Very Good Girls — this could become Fanning's biggest role yet.
This isn't the first time that The Bell Jar has been considered for adaptation. Though the book was adapted for a television movie in 1979, a big screen adaptation of The Bell Jar starring and produced by Julia Stiles was reported to be in development, but the project was eventually scrapped. Given that the original novel so heavily focuses on the problems that plagued (and still plague) women, it's important for women to be both in front of the camera and the ones in charge of production decisions. Though the Stiles version didn't work out, Dunst's should be able to grasp the nuances of Plath's important text.
Dunst may not be acting in this project, but I can't wait to see how she does bringing such beloved material to life.