Books

Kirsten Dunst to direct Dakota Fanning in cinema adaptation of The Bell Jar

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Kayleigh Dray
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Kirsten Dunst may be famed for her talents in front of the camera, but the award-winning actress is set to take a seat in the director’s chair for her next big film project.

That’s right; the Melancholia star is set to bring Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, to life on the big screen.

The powerful novel follows a pessimistic young woman named Esther Greenwood, who becomes disillusioned with her life after taking on a magazine internship in New York. Bored with the society girls around her, Esther soon finds herself feeling frightened by her experiences – and slowly descends into a deep depression.

One month after the book’s publication in 1963, Sylvia tragically committed suicide.

The novel - Sylvia's only novel, in fact - is considered to be semi-autobiographical, as Esther’s battles with her mental health so closely parallel the poet's own struggles with clinical depression. 

Sylvia Plath working on a typewriter

Sylvia Plath

While The Bell Jar deals with complex and serious issues - including self-harm, mental illness, and sexism - there are many instances of dark comedy within the narrative, which Kirsten is reportedly keen to explore in her movie.

In fact, last year - without giving away the title of the book – Kirsten told IndieWire that she was working on adapting a well-read book for the silver screen “in a funny way”.

She said: “It’s going to be a dark comedy and I already have my actress —I’ve wanted to direct for a long time. It’s based on a book, but… it really could make it any way you [wanted].

­­“It’s the kind of book that — it could be so, so didactic and bad or you could really make a life of something [from it]. So you really need to make your own scenes up.”

Deadline reports that Dakota Fanning, who has consistently wowed audiences with her acting abilities from a very young age, is set to take on the role of Esther Greenwood. 

Dakota Fanning on the red carpet

Dakota Fanning

As of yet, there is no further casting news. This means that we will have to wait and see who Dunst will slot in to play the likes of Doreen, a rebellious young woman from NYC, Jay Cee, a strict magazine editor, Buddy, a small-town boy with dreams of a traditional marriage, and Mrs Greenwood - better known to readers as Esther’s overbearing mother.

Nellie Kim joins Dunst as the film’s co-writer, while Priority Pictures’ Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder and Greg Little will produce alongside Fanning and Echo Lake Entertainment’s Brittany Kahan.

Filming isn’t expected to begin until early 2017, which means that we will have to wait a while before we can see this hugely-anticipated movie adaptation.

However, on the plus side, it does give us all plenty of time to re-read The Bell Jar in the meantime. 

Images: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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