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‘The Bell Jar’: Kirsten Dunst to Direct Dakota Fanning in an Adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s Classic Novel

The summer they executed the Rosenbergs doesn't seem so strange lately.

“The Virgin Suicides”

Here’s some fitting news for the “queer, sultry summer” we’re currently in the midst of: Kirsten Dunst is stepping behind the camera for the first time to direct “The Bell Jar.” Dakota Fanning will star in the actress-turned-filmmaker’s adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s melancholy classic, which Dunst co-wrote with Nellie Kim. Deadline first broke the news.

READ MORE: Report: Sofia Coppola Directing ‘The Beguiled’ With Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning

Long a favorite among forlorn teens and undergrads the world over, Plath’s only novel (originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas) remains her best-known work, though her two poetry collections, “Ariel” and “The Colossus and Other Poems,” are revered as well. Plath, who famously struggled with depression throughout her life, committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30; “The Bell Jar” wasn’t released in the United States until eight years later, owing to the wishes of her mother and husband, the poet Ted Hughes. It was previously adapted in 1979 by Larry Peerce with Marilyn Hassett in the leading role.

READ MORE: ‘American Pastoral’ Trailer: Ewan McGregor Makes His Directorial Debut By Adapting Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize–Winner

Fanning will play Esther Greenwood, a wayward young woman whose descent into mental illness is thought of as mirroring Plath’s own. Dunst’s adaptation, which is slated to go into production early next year, would appear to echo one of her breakthrough projects: Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” another literary adaptation about young, unreachable lost souls.

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