Kirsten Dunst To Make Her Directorial Debut, But What Exactly Is ‘The Bell Jar’ About?

Kirsten Dunst has been in Hollywood , most notably as . However, despite her extensive filmography, she has never ventured into the world of directing or producing. That is all about to change, as it was just announced that Dunst will take on one of Sylvia Plath’s most notable works, The Bell Jar, in her directorial debut.


Dunst is set to direct the adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel and has also co-written the script with Nellie Kim. Alongside the star power of Dunst, former child actress Dakota Fanning has been cast in the lead role as Esther Greenwood and will co-produce the film.

What Is The Bell Jar About?

In short, The Bell Jar is about a young woman named Esther who takes a magazine internship in New York City, only to return back home to Boston after suffering a nervous breakdown. The novel deals with the subjects of suicide, sex, depression, and societal stereotypes. Esther’s descent into mental illness and struggle with finding her own social identity is thought have been a mirror of Sylvia Plath’s own life and it has been said the story is semi-autobiographical. Her own mother even tried to prevent it from being published.


In Sylvia Plath’s own words, she had this to say about her novel:

“What I’ve done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalizing to add color — it’s a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown…. I’ve tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen through the distorting lens of a bell jar.”

The Bell Jar served as Plath’s only novel and was published under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas. It remains to be her best known work despite her two poetry collections, Ariel and The Colossus and Other Poems, being highly praised as well. Plath suffered from severe depression and ultimately committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30. The Bell Jar was released in the United States eight years after her death in 1971.

When Will Production Start?


At the current moment, production is set to begin in early 2017 and the only casting announcement we have is Dakota Fanning. However, there are several other essential characters that will need to be cast including:

  • Doreen — Esther’s best friend in New York City
  • Joan — an old friend of Esther’s from Boston
  • Dr. Nolan and Dr. Gordon — Esther’s doctors
  • Mrs. Greenwood — Esther’s mother
  • Buddy — Esther’s ex-boyfriend
  • Constantin and Irwin — Esther’s main romantic interests
  • Jay — Esther’s boss
  • Lenny — Doreen’s boyfriend
  • Marco — Lenny’s friend who gets involved with Esther
  • Betsy and Hilda fellow interns in New York City

The Bell Jar received an adaptation back in 1979 starring Marilyn Hassett, which received less than positive reviews and is primarily forgotten. Sylvia Plath was also portrayed in the Hollywood spotlight when Gwyneth Paltrow portrayed her in a biopic back in 2003, which also was negatively reviewed. Sylvia Plath’s own daughter, Frieda Hughes, attacked the film and . Here’s to hoping Kristen Dunst and Dakota Fanning can bring some life into this project and deliver a worthy adaptation.

Revisit Dunst’s role as Marie Antoinette in this fabulous scene:

Who else would you like to see cast in The Bell Jar? Let us know in the comments!


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Former and certified graphic design student… I love movies more than I like most people. Feel free to discuss film with me! @icemyeyes